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Breech of lighting etiquette at star parties.....

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#26 amicus sidera

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 06:29 PM

Music? A couple in their 20’s near me at Black Forest 2011 had an Australian bullroar (not exactly the kinda thing you expect to hear in the dark) and a guitar, felt the need to sing, and from the smell, I’m sure they weren’t smokin’ tobacco! ….and this was in a state park!!


Can one safely assume that they were immediately expelled and/or arrested - and if not, why not?


I’ve also seen people tripping and falling over stuff like black cases and tripod legs, and if they fall over your gear left out in the dark, guess who gets sued: both you and the organizers. When you have large groups of people together you will have issues.


In my opinion, in this litigious day and age, any star party organizers that don't have a fairly ironclad contract that attendees must sign stating that that one is responsible for one's own clumsiness/lack of perception in a dark environment, and that holds harmless both the organizers and attendees for any accidental injuries they might suffer, even if caused by the carelessness of others, is playing with fire... as is anyone attending such an event.

Even such precautions are no guarantee, of course, which is one reason among many for why I've sworn off attending other than private events for the last two decades.

#27 okieav8r

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 12:13 AM

I just read Uncle Rod's astro blog this evening, and it has a little piece about light abusers and other undesireables at star parties. I've encountered everyone of them, and that's what made it so hiliarious to read. Find it here, about halfway down the page under the heading, Star Party Zoo. Funny, he calls those who don't get lighting etiquette 'Whiteliticus Rex'. :lol:


#28 Cow Jazz

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:35 PM

"If the organizers of your star party don't enforce the lighting policy then you just need to find another star party. And be sure to let them know why the attendance is dwindling."

We have tried VERY hard at Starfest ™ up here in Canada to strictly enforce lighting. We posted signs in many areas, had it in emails, Facebook, and our registration forms. Several of us are always walking the field. The biggest problems are computer displays, cars that drive in and out at all times (nothing we can do about the movement, but we do cover the lights with red as best we can), and red and green lasers (now banned). It's very difficult to get everyone to "behave", and we have had issues with some folks, including telling them that they can leave the next day if they continue with the lights.

Our other issue was people "stealing" power from the lines we run out that are for astro use only. We were always resetting circuit breakers because of coffee pots, tea kettles, coolers, etc. This year, we increased the cost of the power (all the way up the $5 a day) and strictly enforced it's use with tags on all power cables. The response from those in the field was really positive, and we had almost no issues once people realized that we were serious about it.

The people that run these events work their butts off for many months leading up to the starparty, and even harder at the party. So please go easy on us, we're doing the best we can. We like to spend some time observing the skies, too.

#29 Lew Chilton

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:16 AM

I have also noted the same breaches of star party etiquette at the monthly public Mt. Pinos star party. I call it the monthly 3-ring circus.

I've solved the problem by choosing an alternate observing nite, usually a few days before or after the regular Saturday nite star party. On one Thursday nite, only 6 of us shared the observing site instead of the usual 200 or so. It was a nite of tranquility and utter enjoyment.

#30 Cotts

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 10:17 AM

It amazes me that some people who go to Star Parties do not prepare their vehicles for the lights they may produce. Do you have dome lights, side door lights, headlights etc. that come on? Then cover them with red plastic or red electrical tape or cardboard or whatever before the first night of the star party.

Cover all your pilot lights, especially the green and blue ones with electrical tape. Keep all your gear on your tarp/carpet. (Corollary to this: don't walk THROUGH a person's site.) For tripod legs and black tent ropes I've found 'glow-in-the-dark' rope to be a wonderful and inexpensive way to mark your trip hazards - dim but visible and a MUCH better solution than some of the ridiculous, to the point of overkill, flashing lights or red glowing plastic strips etc..

Ounce of prevention........

About music. While there is observing going on? An absolute no-no IMHO. Put on your headphones. No 'live' jamming either (it's clear out! what did you come to the star party for?)

"Live" music - something I've been known to be involved in (hi John!) should be confined to cloudy nights (not too late) or during the day.

There. I feel better now.

Dave

#31 operascope

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 01:03 AM

Right on Dave!
-Lance

#32 PAW

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 05:52 AM

Expecting perfect (or even close to perfect) lighting etiquette/conditions at a Star Party borders on the ridiculous.

Keyword here is: Party

Can't have your cake and it eat it too.

If it's that much of an issue find a different location or date.

#33 mogur

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 12:11 PM

Expecting perfect (or even close to perfect) lighting etiquette/conditions at a Star Party borders on the ridiculous.

Keyword here is: Party

Can't have your cake and it eat it too.

If it's that much of an issue find a different location or date.


Well, PAW, the rest of us are there to do some observing. Please keep your "partying" done during the day, OK? If this is too difficult for you remember that partying can be done at other places. Go to a campground where lanterns and loud revelry is rampant. I pay good money to attend an event where all are as interested as I to do some observing. There are those of us who live in an area where observing at home is futile for anything but the moon and planets. For instance, I live in an apartment and have no yard to use. I can set up a scope in the driveway where cars are constantly going to and fro, but there is no where to use my dob unless I pack up the car and drive several miles to a park. There cars are also constantly coming and going, and I may get kicked out at any time because the park closes at 10 PM. Therefore, star parties are my only decent opportunity to observe DSO's in a dark setting.

Please try to have a little consideration for others during your "partying". Perhaps star parties should adopt a policy where certain areas could be held separate for partiers like PAW. They could have light shields around them so the lights wouldn't bother those more serious about observing. It's an idea anyway.

#34 okieav8r

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:51 PM

Expecting perfect (or even close to perfect) lighting etiquette/conditions at a Star Party borders on the ridiculous.

Keyword here is: Party

Can't have your cake and it eat it too.

If it's that much of an issue find a different location or date.


So, you're saying it's a stretch to expect people who should know better to follow set rules?

The whole idea of a star "party" PAW, is for people to have a chance to observe under dark sky conditions that they usually don't otherwise have ready access to. My issue isn't with whether or not lighting conditions are perfect--I simply ask that persons who attend star parties use common sense and common courtesy, and follow the stated rules of the event. I would suggest that those who have a cavalier attitude toward following the light restriction rules are the ones who need to go elsewhere.

#35 George N

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:21 AM

Expecting perfect (or even close to perfect) lighting etiquette/conditions at a Star Party borders on the ridiculous.

Keyword here is: Party

Can't have your cake and it eat it too.

If it's that much of an issue find a different location or date.


....The whole idea of a star "party" PAW, is for people to have a chance to observe under dark sky conditions that they usually don't otherwise have ready access to.......


While correct as far as it goes, a star party is also a social event, meaning that you are there to be with people of similar interest, in addition to observing under excellent conditions. Those other people will have widely differing ideas on what to expect, what ‘amateur astronomy’ is, what their level of commitment is, and what their level of expertise is. While one can reasonably expect “light and sound discipline conditions”, one needs to understand when dealing with people at a social event, there will be a variety of opinions, each of equal weight. If you need absolutely pristine conditions with behavior according your personal needs, ya need to find a private observing location, far from “the maddening crowd”.

#36 jrcrilly

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:36 AM

If you need absolutely pristine conditions with behavior according your personal needs, ya need to find a private observing location, far from “the maddening crowd”.


...or attend any properly-organized star party. Those always have rules in place forbidding intrusive light on the observing field.

#37 edwincjones

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:28 AM

all good points, all reasonable, but contradictory
so we need to pick the star parties that meet our needs
-hardcore dark sky folks to TSP
-families to GCSP or Cedar Key
-AP need small private

for me, I would rather take the RV, wife, dogs, grandkids to a state or national park to enjoy nature and the semidark skies (many star parties would prefer that also)

edj

#38 BlueGrass

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:41 AM

Inviting the 'general' public to any star party, it's expected that light etiquette will not be followed. For star parties organized specifically for visual / imaging amateurs, light etiquette should be a given, Golden Rule. If you've been into this hobby for even a few months, you know the absolute value of dark sites and skies. For example, the F-150 I purchased for towing our RV has the ability to turn ALL lights off except for the odometer and engine status lights even when locking /unlocking / opening the cab doors and starting the engine. Put in this stealth mode, you never know when I get in or out of the truck and if it's locked or not. Being 95% an imager, my main concern when out with visual only folks is to try not and offend them. I really appreciate their need in maintaining their dark adaption. This year, I'm going even further with my home built equipment by installing higher value resistors to dim the status LEDs... I've attended a number of star parties over the years and while most have been enjoyable, I find that after midnight: Most of the non-dedicated public / amateurs have packed it in and left and those that are left, have their equipment setup and working, pretty much 'in the zone' ...

#39 Zamboni

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 07:48 PM

One trick I've picked up to minimize chances of dome light infractions on the star party field is to replace all interior lighting bulbs with red LEDs. You can order them from www.superbrightleds.com

The red bulbs from this company are reasonably dim, too.

Typically, my only big annual star party is Rocky Mountain Star Stare, which my club organizes. It's largeish, but not ridiculously huge. Attendance is typically in the 300 range. I've come to prefer the smaller star parties because you get less of the riff-raff ruining everyone's observing.

#40 MadHungarian

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 10:35 AM

And violaters of lighting etiquette should be punished by being forced to live in Western Washington State.

#41 David Knisely

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:48 PM

At the Nebraska Star Party, we have definite lighting restrictions, but it is hard to enforce them. We publish the restrictions in the registration packets, explain them at length during the Beginner's Field School, and mention them on the observing fields during the evening meals and programs, but with the site being a public park, you do get an occasional white light coming down a road into the area. If someone does violate those rules who really should know better, they do get talked to, but again, there are limits to what we can do. Even amongst experienced amateurs, some people still do not know just how dim (and shielded) their lighting must be to avoid impacting others. Still, there are setup locations away from the center of the observing fields which are shielded enough that one need not be bothered at all. Most people there are pretty well behaved when it comes to the proper use of lighting while observing. Clear skies to you.

#42 DeanS

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:43 AM

Here is a good example of what NOT to do at star parties. This guy was asked numerous times to keep the light off but continued for several nights. One night at around 2 am he came out in his robe and told us to keep it down as people are tying to sleep and we where being rude. I suggested to him that this is what people tend to do at star parties and perhaps a hotel room might have been a better choice ;)

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#43 csa/montana

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:04 AM

Complaining about others being rude; when he lights up the entire area, with no thought to others? :ohmy:

#44 The Planetman

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:46 AM

Several years ago, when we hosted our star party at the observatory, a guy decided that he'd plug in his popup camper, which was a no-no, so he could have his TV on all night. He did this without asking or anyone noticing it.
Being the star party chair, when he started snoring, I took it upon myself to unplug it. When he woke up and complained, I explained that the TV was bright and distracting. Not to mention that many had come from great distances to enjoy some dark sky. He told me, in a hateful tone, that he'd driven 3 hours, and no one was going to tell him that he couldn't run his TV. That when I told him he had two choices; leave it off or pack up and go home. He left early the next morning. Wouldn't have been so bad if he did this when most everyone had gone to sleep. But it was 9:30! Haven't seen him since....
I was the hero that night. Especially when it turned out to be the best night of the party.

#45 WadeH237

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 01:20 PM

This guy was asked numerous times to keep the light off but continued for several nights.


It's good to be polite when reminding people about their lights, but why wasn't this person ejected after the first night?

#46 DeanS

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 01:33 PM

They would turn it off, then would come back on later for a while, then on and off like that until they went to sleep. Several different people had asked them to turn it off, and they would at the time.

When he confronted us about talking he reminded us that every time we asked him to turn off the lights he did. Like he was doing us a favor???

I can understand someone turning on a light by accident, but they should figure it out after being asked a few times.

Oh well, just bound to happen with a lot of people.

#47 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 04:43 PM

I wired around my back up lights and my day time running lights with switches so I could turn them off. I often get frustrated with weather and remind myself I have a cold wife and a hot bed waiting for me at home.

During outreach events it is expected people have white lights in your face. I now just use my computer screen to show people what my camera can see. I typically use a laptop tent and I make sure I am in a position where there are no other astronomers behind me but again, outreach, white light is expected.

I am non-confrontational for the most part so the worse people can expect from me is a dirty look. That and I have a temper so I make sure not to start any problems knowing I'll probably end up in jail.

#48 bicparker

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:22 AM

Being the light police at a star party is a difficult task. It is a balancing act to ensure that everyone at the star party has a positive experience. In my experience, most everyone who I have had to talk to about lighting problems did not intentionally create these issues and they were more than helpful in rectifying the problem. Many folks who breach the etiquette are seasoned veterans of star parties who just didn't realize they had some sort of light leak going on. Most people don't go to a star party with the sole intention of ticking everyone else off.

The bad situations that some have described where the person with the problem is confrontational are rare, but they do happen. And these are the ones that get all of the attention. There is no magic way to handle these situations, and on a very rare occasion, things have to be escalated.

Here a just a few things I would encourage for everyone to remember when you are at a star party. This isn't an all encompassing list. Just some thoughts that bubbled up to the top for me.:

1. If a problem affects one person, it is affecting twenty others, as well. The star party organizers are trying to make this a great experience for up to several hundred people at once in close proximity. At night, this means that actions by a single person can affect many others. This is a group activity and it only really works when folks are part of the group, not separate.
2. It is dark on the field. You are not being singled out on a personal level if you are asked to change some lighting. Often the volunteers have no idea who the responsible parties are until they are right up on the situation, especially if some equipment is unattended. Don't get offended.
3. The volunteers monitoring for light violations are looking at the light levels on a large field level. If they are picking out a problem, it is often because they can see it across the field, not just right around in your area.
4. Set a good example for others. Work together with others in your area of the field and be "light aware". Talk it up, especially before the sun goes down. People around you will hear you and follow by example.
5. Help the volunteers. If you see a lighting problem, try to work it out. But if you don't feel comfortable doing that, talk to one of the staff and they may be able to help (it is sometimes easier for me, as a staff person, to talk to someone as a third party in resolving a light problem).
6. Remember that the volunteers policing the lights are star party attendees, also. They would rather be at their scope than policing lights.
7. Many light violations are created by reflected light situations, not direct ones. One example would be where someone sets up their laptops to face away from the field, only to have the light reflecting off of the white trailer behind them, which gives everyone the joy of a light dome.

#49 George N

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 10:35 AM

>.....One example would be where someone sets up their laptops to face away from the field, only to have the light reflecting.......

Has there been a discussion somewhere on CN about shielding laptops? I know about the red screens, but I'd also like some sort of 'cave' to put a laptop in.

#50 hm insulators

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 10:39 AM

Complaining about others being rude; when he lights up the entire area, with no thought to others? :ohmy:


I was asking myself the same question. Gotta sit down one of these days and figure that one out!






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