Print the MAS Star Party Guidelines.
MAS Star Party Guidelines
If this is your first star party, or it has been a while since you’ve been to one, please take a few moments to review these guidelines.
- PARK FEES AND HOURS OF OPERATION: Carver County Parks no longer charge for access to their parks. The main gate to the park opens at 6:00 am. During a Public Star Party we are usually open from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, but frequently stay until the last guest has left. Note the main gate to the park typically closes at 10:00 pm.
- RESTROOMS: During the summer observing season, we’ve had a portable restroom behind the observatory building. Indoor ADA restrooms are available in the large barn at the park entrance (entry is on the building’s north side). There are also outhouses northwest of the observatory, beyond the baseball diamond. During the summer, restrooms are available in the building by the lake.
- AVOID USING WHITE LIGHT: Do not use a white flashlight. The human eye requires 30 minutes to fully adapt to darkness. If exposed to white light, even for a second, this “dark adaptation” is lost and the thirty minute process starts all over again. Using a dim red light ( a flashlight with a red filter for example) is appreciated at star parties.
Red flashlights are available from retailers but can also be made by placing a red film over a regular light. Films such as red cellophane or tail light repair kit from an auto supply store are readily available. Note that more than one layer of the film may be necessary to dim the light to an acceptable level. Red “glow sticks” may also be available at the observatory for a small donation.
- Similarly, AVOID USING YOUR VEHICLE’S HEADLIGHTS until you are well away from the observing area. Star party participants appreciate your use of your vehicle’s parking lights for illumination while driving near the observing area. If possible, turn off internal and accessory lighting (trunks, interior lights, etc.) as well. Use common sense regarding use of headlights when arriving or departing a star party. Balance your need for driving safety with star party participants’ desire to that you limit their use. (Note: Temporarily dimming the interior dashboard lights will make it easier to see the road when using your vehicle’s parking lights ).
- PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE: Back into your parking space in order to avoid flooding the observing area with the light from your back-up lights when you leave. Park away from the main observing area when possible.
- CHILDREN ARE WELCOME WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT. Consider carefully the child’s age and attention span before bringing them along. Star gazing can quickly become boring for younger children. If you do bring children, please supervise them at all times for their safety and the safety of the astronomical equipment in use at the star party. No running or playing in the observatory or around any telescopes. Also, PLEASE do not have your children wear shoes with flashing lights.
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY: It can become much cooler than you think during spring, fall and winter nights. Bring a coat, gloves, hat, extra clothing and especially heavy socks & boots with you just in case it becomes colder than you anticipate.
- BUGS: Mosquitoes and gnats are a nuisance in the summer. If you need to use an insect repellent, please use a lotion. If you have a spray repellant, only apply it DOWNWIND and well away from any telescopes.
- NO LITTERING: If you brought it, take it with you when you leave. Please, do not to leave anything on the walls of the observatory and search the area before leaving to check for items you may have dropped. If you have trash, please dispose of it in one of the trash cans in the observatory.
- PHOTOGRAPHS: It is understandable that you may want to take photos of the observatory or of what you are viewing through the telescope eyepiece. However, once the sky becomes dark avoid using a flash to take any pictures. Regarding images through the telescopes, we generally would give you additional time to take a photo, but if there are others waiting in line please limit this to about 10 or 15 seconds. We may ask you to step out of line and return with your cell camera on an attachment we can provide once the line has gone down.
- BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS: Avoid loud radios or music. ALWAYS ask permission before touching or using someone else’s equipment.
- NO SMOKING is allowed within the observatory or in proximity to observers or equipment to ensure no damage is caused to equipment. If you must smoke, please do so only DOWNWIND and away from the observatory, the observing area and any equipment.
- NO FOOD OR DRINK NEAR THE TELESCOPES: Avoid having food and especially drinks near the telescopes. Some telescopes have an open design and can be damaged easily by someone accidentally dropping something onto a telescopes optics. Also, NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES at the observatory during our public star parties.
- RESPECT OTHERS: The Minnesota Astronomical Society is open to all, regardless of age, gender, ethnic background, religion, etc. Inappropriate comments or actions will not be tolerated, and after a suitable warning, offending parties will be asked to leave.
- CONSIDER LEAVING YOUR PETS AT HOME: Not everyone is comfortable around animals and their presence introduces the possibility of personal injury or damage to expensive astronomical equipment.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! — MAS members enjoy talking about their hobby and are often willing to share their love of the universe with you. But also consider that some members may be involved in specific observing activities or projects that might limit their ability to answer your questions in detail.
- HAVE FUN! Star parties are meant to be enjoyed by all. That’s why they’re called parties!