Head Lights – Many cars have a switch on a stalk on the steering column or on the dashboard where you can control the head lights. If you have automatic on headlights they are probably on a Auto setting, but you will have others. Find the one that lets you keep the headlights off even when you take it out of Park. If you don’t know how, consult your owner’s manual.
Arriving – Got to parking lights only and turn your headlights off as soon as you get close to the observing area. While your parking lights are annoying they are not as destructive as the headlights.
Parking your Car – Always park your car so the headlights face away from the observing area. This is especially important if you are at a group observing session. When leaving, if you have your headlights blazing, at least they are turned away from the group. No telling where they will find your body Winking smile if you flash everyone with your headlights.
Brake Lights - When you step on the brakes, those brake lights will blaze brilliantly and the fact that they are red won’t help much, but it is better than bright white headlights. Minimize your time on the brake pedal. Don’t sit there with your foot on the brake while you buckle up or adjust the radio or ???
Interior Lights – every car I have ever owned has a switch on the ceiling lights that sets them to off/on/automatic so they come on when you open a door. Find that switch, often on the light or a ceiling cluster, and set it to off when you are going to a dark location. If you have an SUV or similar vehicle, there is probably a separate control for the rear light on the light itself.
Dashboard lights – there is an intensity setting switch or dial so that you can adjust how bright your instrument panel is at night. Find it and set it as low as possible, perhaps even all the way off. Otherwise every time you open a door you instrument panel lights may come on and there goes your dark adaption.
Parking and/or perimeter lights – These can be the hardest to control. The often come on if you lock or unlock the car or open the door. See if you can control these too. On my car, if I turn the headlight control to off the parking/perimeter lights stay off too.
Key Fob – if you use your clicker to lock and unlock your car, you will most likely have the perimeter lights come on, lighting up the area. See if there is a way to lock and unlock your car without the lights coming on. Or, leave the car unlocked and see if the perimeter lights stay off when you open a door. Mine stay off if I have them turned off.
I have attached photos of the control zones on my Nissan Rogue. Chances are yours look similar.
How do you figure this out? The Owner’s Manual. It will tell you how to control the lights in your car.
I have had people tell me that they can’t control the lights in their car. What that means is that they never looked or never thought it would be important. But once you become an astronomy enthusiast, it becomes important.
How to operate your car’s lights
Edited by aeajr, 18 February 2020 - 04:53 PM.