South Plains Astronomy Club

Observing Under The Dark West Texas Skies

Public Star Party Etiquette

If you’ve never been to a star party, please take a moment to read these guidelines. It will help all of us have an enjoyable and safe time! Above all, please ask if you are unsure.

  • Don’t use white lights! Your eyes take 15-30 minutes to fully adapt to the dark and looking at a white light resets the clock. Your eyes should adjust well enough to walk around without a flashlight in just 5 minutes or so, but it will take longer to see the most detail in the eyepiece.
    • White flashlights, cell phones, and interior car lights all ruin your night vision instantly.
    • Red lights preserve your night vision and will enable you to see more in the dark.
    • Use red cellophane to convert your white light to red light, but this only works with dimmer lights. A really bright red flashlight will still overpower your night vision.
    • Vehicle lights are particularly devastating to night vision and can cause extreme disruption to the star party if your backup, daylight running lights, or especially headlights hit the star field.
  • Please don’t touch the equipment without permission, but don’t be afraid to ask!
    • Bumping the equipment could cause damage and will knock the scope away from the object.
    • We will be glad to show you how to view the object through our scopes.
  • Never touch an optical glass surface such as mirrors, eyepieces, and lenses.
    SCT fork mount
  • Please watch your step
    • Be careful of tripping hazards near our equipment such as cables, tripod legs, and mats
    • Our astronomers will be glad to use their red lights for your convenience.
  • Stargazing is a peaceful activity, so please:
    • No loud music
    • No running around
    • No boisterous behavior
    • Laughing and “OH WOW!” is encouraged!
  • Pets are allowed at our public star parties but must be controlled.
    • Please keep them on a leash.
    • Our astronomers appreciate well-mannered dogs, but hyperactive dogs represent a real problem in the dark. We don’t want your pet, humans, or our equipment to come to harm!
  • Dress warmly – it will feel 10-15 degrees cooler because you’re standing out in the breeze.
  • Please keep the area clean and pick up any trash.
  • If you smoke or vape, please do so down-wind and well away from our telescopes.