Rules and Etiquette for Galway Astronomy Club Viewing Events
Galway Astronomy Club strive to promote the hobby of astronomy among as wide an audience as possible, and to share our love of the activity with new entrants and ‘old hands’ alike. To maximise the enjoyment and benefit from those few occasions when we can observe on a clear night from a dark site, we ask anyone coming to any of our observing sessions to familiarise themselves with, and agree to follow, the following rules and pointers:
- Arrive in good time to set up before viewing begins.
Start times for viewing will vary throughout the year, and will be posted on the club’s Facebook age and website before each month’s viewing session. In all cases we ask guests to arrive in good time to set their equipment up well before the start time, to avoid interfering with other observers. In all cases we ask guests to ensure they are parked up at least 30 minutes before the start time.
- Red Lights only after the observing session starts.
Once the observing session begins we ask that observers refrain from using any type of torch or light, other than a properly filtered red light. This is to avoid ruining the night vision of other observers. Normal lights are of course permitted in any emergency situation.
- Park Facing Away from the Observing Site.
This is to ensure that when leaving the observing site you won’t flood the area with white light before going! We also ask guests who have no equipment to park a bit further away from the observing site, to allow those who may be transporting heavy equipment to park closer.
- Children are welcome, but must be under adult supervision.
This is particularly important once it gets properly dark, as only red lights will be permitted thereafter.
- You Don’t Need to have a Telescope to Attend.
We want to encourage as many people as possible to share in the joys of the hobby, so please don’t feel you need to be any sort of expert, or to have any sort of equipment, in order to join in. Most owners will be happy to allow guests to observe using their equipment. We ask when doing so that you respect the equipment in question and follow the owner’s requests. But by the same token.
- Try not to monopolise the time of others.
Amateur astronomers love their hobby and enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with others, but especially here in the west of Ireland nice clear nights are a rarity, and so we ask that guests attending without equipment try to strike a balance that allows those with telescopes to also do some observing of their own.
- Respect the Environment:
Please don’t litter, and make sure you take any rubbish home with you. Please be careful of any fences or gates in the area, and try as far as possible to leave the area exactly as you found it.
- Respect the Enjoyment of others.
Astronomy tends to be a quiet and contemplative activity, so as ask that guests keep noise to a minimum, and definitely no radios, novelty ringtones or music!
- Be careful moving around in the dark.
Both for your own safety and in order to avoid damaging expensive equipment. Try to use a red light pointed towards the ground when moving about, to avoid tripping over obstacles such as tripod legs.
- Leave those in the ‘serious corner’ to their own devices.
Depending on circumstances we may designate an area for serious observers who are there for a specific purpose, or who are trying to achieve a particular goal that night. Any such area will be clearly designated, and we ask that those in it be left undisturbed to get on with their nightly activity.
- Set up Safely.
When setting up your equipment have a mind to safety. Try to avoid trailing power cables or other obstacles that can cause problems in the dark. Wherever possible have power packs, cables etc, stored inside the area marked out by the legs of your tripod.
- All pets must be on a lead.
We ask guests not to bring pets along unless strictly necessary, and any pets that are there on the night must be on a lead.
- No alcohol of any sort is permitted.
Wait till you get home and have a nice hot toddy instead.
- Come prepared.
Especially in winter astronomy can be an extremely cold activity. Make sure you are properly clothed and set up to deal with the elements. A flask with a hot drink is a good idea.
- Smoke considerately.
Smoking is permitted, (be careful not to ruin people’s night vision when lighting up), but please ensure that you smoke in such a way or location that it doesn’t interfere with other observers. Make sure not to leave stubs or other litter behind you.
- No Lasers Allowed.
Green lasers can be very useful for pointing out objects in the sky, but are inherently dangerous and can pose a risk to aircraft. They can also ruin hours of photography work if they flash across an area of sky being imaged. For that reason they are not permitted at observing sessions. A member of the Club Committee will have one laser on the night, to point out celestial objects for beginners, but this will be put away when the observing session proper begins.
Observing sessions are held at a site beside Bearna Wind Farm on the first Friday of every month; weather permitting. We will post an announcement on the club Facebook page on the Thursday before each session, announcing whether it’s going ahead or not. You don’t need to be a member of the Club to attend, nor do you need to own a scope, but if you have any equipment such as binoculars or a telescope feel free to bring them along.
You can find a map to the observing site here:
And the club Facebook Page is here: