Star Party Dos and Don’ts

So that we can all safely enjoy the night sky, we encourage you to review and follow these guidelines.

  • Proper behavior is expected at all times, particularly when the public is in attendance.
  • Alcohol and illegal drugs are not permitted at observing events.
  • Smoking is allowed, but please ask permission of telescope owners before approaching their equipment.
  • Please avoid loud and boisterous behavior — stargazing is a quiet activity.
  • Music is permitted but should be kept at low levels. Not everyone enjoys the same music.
  • No littering. Pack your trash and dispose of it appropriately.
  • Children should be instructed that running around the vicinity of the telescopic and other personal equipment is not permitted.
  • Pets should be leashed and controlled at all times.
  • Do not touch other people’s equipment without permission. They are usually more than willing to share their equipment and viewing.
  • Use a sturdy ladder to assist with viewing as necessary. Better safe than sorry.

Arriving and Parking at a Starparty:

  • When parking your car, please be aware that headlights can be blinding. Use parking lights if possible. Drive very slowly. If you can’t see properly — STOP!
  • Arrive early to set up your equipment before sunset.
  • Park facing towards the exit to avoid having to back up.
  • If you don’t bring a telescope, or you have to leave early, please park close to the exit.

White Lights:

  • White lights are discouraged, but when used should be low power, pointed down at all times and well shielded. If you must use lights, please ask first.
  • Red LEDs or flashlights with a red filter are preferred.
  • Be careful with lights when people are engaged in astrophotography.
  • Turn the brightness down on your laptop computer and digital cameras screens and use a red filter placed over the screen.

Laser Pointers:

WAA discourages the use of laser pointers at its star parties unless required for valid educational purposes.

  • Laser pointers are teaching tools and should only used for pointing out stars, planets and other celestial objects.
  • Lasers are limited to 5mW or less.
  • The beam must be on for the shortest period necessary and then shut off.
  • Users must ensure that no aircraft are within 60 degrees of the beam at any time, regardless of aircraft altitude.
  • The beam must not be pointed at people, animals, cars, planes, buildings or reflective surfaces.
  • Users must ensure that no one looks directly into the beam, as it could cause blindness.
  • Lasers (including telescope collimators) may not be left unattended.
  • Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to use laser pointers.

Leaving a Starparty:

  • Use parking lights if possible.
  • Announce in advance that you are leaving in your car.
  • If you can’t see the exit have someone escort your out with a red flashlight.
  • Don’t leave someone alone at the park without first checking with them.


By participating in any activity sponsored by Westchester Amateur Astronomers.Inc., you expressly acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Westchester Amateur Astronomers, Inc., its membership, officers, and Board Members assume no responsibility for any claims that may arise out of participation in any of its activities.

Participation in star parties carries certain risks of injury, including, but not limited to: injuries arising from falls or bodily trauma while observing through telescopes, tripping over unseens objects in the dark, insect bites, cold or heat-induced injuries, and other potential injuries. Appropriate caution during the activity will reduce, but may not completely eliminate any likelihood of injury.

Your participation in any Westchester Amateur Astronomers, Inc. activities is an indication of the knowledge, understanding and acceptance of these terms.