I've had a few requests on guidelines for Star Parties and thought I would do a post on that. I've gathered information from a few local people and a few books. Having stated that I am going observing next Friday and Saturday at either Wolf Creek Pass or Lakeside. Wolf Creek Pass will be in the low 70's by day and the low 30's by night. That means winter dressing for me; layers. I wear hunting under garments (like long johns but meant for hunting and very warm); then some sweat pants, then wool pants and then snow pants. Upper body is a hunting under garment/long john, followed by a LONG tee shirt that is tucked in and then a long sweat shirt, followed by a wool shirt followed by a hooded sweatshirt and then if needed a military outer sweater I have and then my coat. Also a camo or black balaclava is on my head, and either wool mittens that allow my fingertips and thumb tips out or a pair of gloves that do the same. I'll post up pictures and a post on winter gear later.
Lakeside is forecasted next Friday to be clear in the low 50's and that is sounding better temperature wise, but I love Wolf Creek. I'll post later in the week which site I am going to.
Back to etiquette. One, if you come with me, realize all my sites but SPOC have no restrooms. Well, Wolf Creek Pass Campgrounds are about 2 miles from the observing site and there are restrooms there but all others require a shovel, and about 6 to 10 inch hole dug before one does their business; number two that is. Number one is easy unless your female and then you just have to go out a ways from the observing site. So the first rule is find out about restrooms and the rules for them. It helps to know if you need a small shovel with you and toilet paper (I always bring both).
Next, though I am a celiac and have to eat gluten free, my food is tasty and I share drink and food if someone did not bring any. However, I have to admit, I have someone I share with and I always find the wrapper or the can on the ground after they have left and before I leave (I always check the area before I leave or tear down). Leave the area your observing in, in better condition than when you got there. Take a garbage bag to clear out your garbage and anyone else who is there and doesn't.
Take your time if viewing in someone else's scope so you can compare. I want to hear what others say when they are done. A quick view doesn't do the owner justice. Also ask, but don't be afraid to focus the viewer. My eyes are not your eyes, and I expect you to focus. Unsure, I'll tell you how otherwise I assume you know how.
Brought music? Ask before you blare it or bring an iPod or MP3 and use headphones to respect others in the area viewing. By yourself, blare away if you want.
Don't bring pets if your observing with others. If someone brings a pet I'm more worried about my equipment then about viewing. Want your fido/dog with you, observing alone.
Driving in be aware others may already be there so when you get close on a dirt road, slow down and minimize your dust impact. No one wants a cloud of dust when you show up so just be careful.
Bring your own food, be willing to share, but bring food and water or a drink (no alcohol, I don't like observing with drunks), or save it for after the session. Your body need the energy and the liquid while your observing.
A chair. I recommend an observing chair and one to just sit in and relax and talk in.
Smoking. Ask before smoking or if you must, move down wind and be away from the observing area so your light and smoke does not interfere with those observing or their equipment. I don't mind if someone is a smoker, I just don't want to breathe it, have it near my optics or equipment or clothing. Please just go down wind and out of the sight of those observing.
Respect those who may be astro-imaging. There are times they are heavily engaged and times when they are not. Offer to share views but if they ignore you, don't take it personally.
Arrive 1 hour before dark if at all possible. It gets hard to find a site after dark and scopes are up. Also, people don't like headlights coming down on them after setting up and observing for awhile.
Tell several people where your going and how to get there. Just in case something happens in terms of health, a run in with someone or something it is just common sense to do this. I do this with camping and with hiking and it can save your life.
I teach this to my students, and it is good here. Be respectful, be courteous and be kind. There is far too much anger; far too much hate; far too much hurt feelings in this world. Saying "Please" and "Thank You" really are not out of style, at least in my world. If we each would commit to being a little kinder and understanding, I personally feel the world could slowly become a better place to be in.
There are others, and feel free in comments to add some, but I felt these are a good start. My skies tonight are partly cloudy with winds around 30mph with gusts to 50mph so no observing for me. Perhaps tomorrow night. I will post up my other posts tomorrow I've been talking about.