Williamson County Astronomy Club

Stargazing Etiquette For Group Observing


We call the outdoor observing events "Star Parties" or "Stargazing". Our guests are encouraged to have a wholesome evening under the night sky and learn more about the interesting and beautiful sights just beyond the views afforded us by our unaided eyes.

Keep these guidelines in mind as we share our love for the natural wonders the universe holds.

Ask Lots of Questions

The telescope operators just love to talk about astronomy and space! Ask us anything you want to know about the objects you are viewing or things you always wondered about in the sky.

Avoid the Use of White Lights

White light can ruin your "Night Vision" for up to 15 minutes making faint objects much more difficult to see. You can wrap your flashlight in red plastic or brown grocery bag paper to dim and redden the light. Please don’t use cell phone “flashlight” Apps.

Use Only Subdued Red Light

Red light is best as it interferes with the eye's dark adaptation the least.

Keep all Lights Pointed Downward

If you are using a flashlight (either red or very much dimmed), try to keep them aimed downward at all times. Even a brief exposure to a flashlight can interfere with other guests preventing them from getting the best views of faint objects.

Take Care While Walking Around Telescopes

There are likely to be power cords or computer cables which may pose a trip hazard.

Don’t Touch the Telescopes

Unless directed by the telescope operator, refrain from touching or grabbing the scopes. Telescopes can be easily pushed off their target with even a gentle touch. Reacquiring the target in the telescope may take a couple of minutes depending on how far the telescope was moved. Please keep children from touching the telescopes and let them know that they should listen to any guidance provided by the telescope operators.

Postpone Taking Photos

Wait until near the end of the event when long lines have shortened before requesting to take photos through the telescopes.

Most telescope operators will allow and help you to try to take a photo through the telescope. However, this is often much harder than it might seem and can take some time. Please wait until most visitors have seen the views and then ask to attempt a telescopic photo.

No Flash Photography

Flash photography is permitted only before dusk or at the end of the event as the telescope operators are ready to dis-assemble their scopes.

Visit All the Telescopes

Even though some may be viewing the same object you've seen in another, often the views are very different or the operator will be pointing out a different aspect of the target.

Be Patient

It is possible that long lines may form at the telescopes. The telescope operators will try to keep the lines moving but it may take several minutes before it will be your turn.

 

If you are part of a community or educational group and would like our help in some aspect of astronomy education, please contact us to make arrangements.