Field Nights

Financial Members only

This page explains our protocols, customs and courtesies which apply in general to members private observing sessions at all sites.

For further information please see: Stargard. Then, if relevant please also see:
Beginners Workshops or
What’s On? or
Public Nights

Our Members Private Observing nights are for the benefit of financial members only and for insurance and other reasons are not open to the general public. If there is a special reason why you think you might wish to bring a friend or family member, please discuss your reasons with the President at least 24 hours in advance.

Provisions

You should bring your own refreshments and a camping chair to relax on. Our observing sites can become extremely cold and damp after sunset, so you will need layers of warm clothing and please wear sensible footwear.

Don’t forget your mosquito repellent!

Transport

Members must arrange their own transport to and from observing sites. Location maps for our observing sites are located on the website.

Health & Safety

We want to keep our members healthy and safe. Please follow all public health rules and MAS requirements. Do not travel if you have any symptoms.

Astronomy is carried out in darkness and MAS is not responsible for any accidents. This is one reason why we insist on arriving before sunset. You are responsible for your own safety, for any under your charge and for your own equipment.

It is also essential that you bring a red light torch with you.

Please help us maintain our excellent safety record in the field. If any hazards are found please alert a committee member immediately.

Arrive in Daylight

In the interests of your own personal safety and that of others, all members are requested to arrive at the observing field prior to sunset. This is particularly vital for first time arrivals to familiarise with the surroundings in daylight.

If the field is soft enough to make tyre marks then do not drive on it.

If you are delayed and arrive in darkness, please switch your headlights off and sound your horn and wait. You will be met at the gate by a member and guided to a vacant spot. Please proceed with extreme caution.

Please do not exceed 5 kph on the field during darkness.

Field Etiquette

Please consider the needs of others around you, especially when using laser pointers, camera monitors, computers, car boot and interior lights, radios etc. Also during arrival and departure.

While on the field, please either disable or cover your vehicle interior light and boot light with a red filter. If unlocking your car causes your indicators to blink, then a good solution is not to lock your car. Do not use flash photography.

To maintain optimum darkness adaptation, only red lights may be used on the observing field after sunset. Suitable red torches are available from optical telescope retailers, electronic dealerships and bicycle shops.

To cut down on white light spillage and to prevent loss of dark adaptation for the visual observers, please make sure that all computer and camera monitors are shrouded and/or covered with a deep red filter.

Please refrain from smoking in the vicinity of others.

Assistance for Beginners

Whilst astronomy is not a dangerous hobby, a little thought and care by everyone will help with the enjoyment of this great passion that is astronomy.

When approaching any equipment that is not yours, please do not attempt to touch or move anything without the permission of the owner. Please also be aware of any cables that may be draped in and around the telescope.

Our experienced members are more than willing to help our new members.

However, experienced astronomers need daylight time to unload and set up their own equipment, and as darkness falls they need time to calibrate their gear. Once their setup is complete they will be happy to help you.

Dew heaters for your telescope are essential and you will need your own electrical battery power as mains power is not available. We do not recommend utilising your car battery.

Waste Material

To preserve the Society’s reputation, please always take every single scrap of your litter home with you.

Laser Pointers

Laser pointers must be used responsibly, to avoid injury to any person and must never be aimed near aircraft or wildlife. Remember that wildlife reside in the trees and shrubbery around the field and there may be cattle in the next field. Only aim your laser pointer at the sky.

Since the observing field is shared by both visual & imaging astronomers, please coordinate your laser use with those around you. See our Laser Pointer page in the “About Us” menu at the top of this page.

Departure

If leaving early and you need to use your car headlights, please warn others in advance. If uncertain, ask another member to guide you to the gate.

Watch Out For The Locals

Wombats, (Dmitry Brant, via Wikimedia Commons)

When driving to or from observing fields, always be on the lookout for wild animals such as kangaroos, wombats and foxes which frequently the vicinity, especially at night.


Lunar Cycle

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We select our dates for members dark sky observing nights based on the Lunar cycle:

Saturday closest to New MoonStargard.
Second darkest Saturday:Stargard.
Third darkest Saturday (often near First Quarter Moon) Winter series of Public Nights or other public events. Otherwise potentially Stargard.
On or near Full MoonGenerally avoided but may be suitable for public outreach.

Weather

Field nights might be rearranged at short notice to suit the weather conditions.

If weather conditions look doubtful, please check for news on the “What’s On” page AND the Facebook page AND your e-mail or Private Messages before leaving home – and please ensure you have saved the relevant contact numbers on your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Please check out the MAS Weather page.