Warm clothes: Good dark sky
sites are often at high elevations. Once the sun goes down, the
temperatures drop, and chilling becomes a factor, even in the summertime.
Warm dress is a must and don’t forget a hat. Dressing in layers is an easy
way to prepare for a variety of conditions. You might consider: insulated
underwear, a couple of shirts, jacket or windbreaker, head covering,
scarf, earmuffs, heavier socks, boots or other warm footwear, and
gloves. You can peel off or add layers as temperatures vary. Some people
even bring a sleeping bag to wrap up in if it gets particularly cold. One
way to keep your hands and feet warm in really cold weather is to keep a
supply of the “air-activated” hand warmers. Slip one in each glove and you
can keep track of your fingers!
Red filtered flashlights: Once
eyes are dark adapted, any white, blue or yellow light can hamper night
vision. Red filtered light, however, does not damage night vision and so
ALL lights used at the observing site should be covered by red
filters. You can easily modify a standard flashlight by covering the lens
with red construction paper, red fabric, red cellophane (thick layers), or
red tail-light tape.
If possible turn off the
interior lights of your vehicle, or cover the lights with red tape or
plastic covering BEFORE you arrive. If arriving before dark, back into
your parking space so that you won't be using the backup lights to get out
to go home. If arriving after dark please park on the edge of the viewing
area so as to least disturb those already viewing. Please use parking
lights and not the headlights when arriving or leaving after dark (on some
of the newer cars you can't turn off the lights, but you might try
clicking on the emergency brake ONE click and see if that works. It's not
enough to engage the brakes but enough to get you out of the parking area
and then release the brake). Sometimes people make a dark red covering for
their headlights and attach it temporarily with the blue painters tape
just to get in and out of the parking area.
Warm clothes: we can't
emphasize this one enough, it will be cold after dark.
Folding chair, camp chair, or
lawn chair. Some use their tail gate as a table.
Star charts, eyepieces, extra
equipment and batteries.
Bring your binoculars. It's amazing how much you
can see with them if you know where to look. Sometimes you just want to
take a break and sit back and look up.
Pen or pencil (be careful
about water-soluble ink - it smears in the night dew) and a notebook. Keep in mind, red
ink will not show up in the red light (experience is talking here).
We are banning
green lasers, except with the approval of the event coordinator. Many of our members
are doing astrophotography and you can inadvertently
ruin someone's once-in-a-lifetime 30-minute exposure at the 27-minute
mark! Also there has been a problem with non-astronomers shining the green
lasers at airplanes and not only is that a federal offense, it gives
astronomers an unearned bad rap.
Map to the area and driving
directions (see the RCA website for directions and maps).
Anything YOU think would make
you more comfortable during your observing sessions!
A good idea is to keep a bag
ready in your car or home that contains some star party supplies so you
are already half ready to go if an impromptu party is called.
Warm clothes: it will be cold
after the sun sets. Even star parties at high elevations in August have had below freezing
Some snacks and warm beverage
might be nice if you're viewing more than a couple of hours. Hot
chocolate, coffee, or ever hot cider and warm your insides while you add
another layer of clothing (you did bring multiple layers, right?). Alcohol
and night viewing and/or driving home do NOT mix at all.
Develop your own permanent
check-off list of star party supplies. It is pretty shaky to rely on
memory - forgetting your eyepieces 100 miles from town puts a damper on
your observing session.
All of our organized star
party sites have restrooms or outhouse/portapotty facilities. But for the
more remote outhouses and porta-potties, you may want to bring a small roll
of toilet paper and some sanitizing wipes or Purell. There are a few
impromptu sites that have no facilities, so plan accordingly.