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.