Stargazing dos and don’ts

The following is copied from a handout we give to everyone who attends our observing events. If coming to any of our outreach activities, it’s a good idea to read this before you come.


Due to this area being on a flight path into Gatwick, green laser pointing devices will only be tolerated if used responsibly. If you have one of these devices please speak to one of our members BEFORE you use it. This is very, very important for the safety of others, please act responsibly. 

As you are reading this it is assumed you have already met one member, please feel free to introduce yourself to the others with funny hats, warm shoes, red lights and who are standing by a telescope.  They will be delighted to talk to you about all aspects of Astronomy.  If they don’t know the answer it’s a sure bet that they will do their best to find someone who does. One thing that will not happen for sure we won’t find someone who knows all the answers, if you do find him let us know and we can all call him a fibber. However there are no daft questions in Astronomy, so please ask away.


We are a small group of amateur astronomers who are keen to share our hobby and viewing kit with other interested people. We use a variety of telescopes covering a fair range of what is available in the market place today.   Most members are prepared to talk about set up costs and availability of their equipment, its status and ability to cope with what will be required by its owner.

There are no Society rules, just polite tolerant behaviour when around the telescopes.



Please don’t hurry when moving between people and scopes, tripods have a wide leg span and are remarkably solid if banged into.  Plus the operator will not be happy if they have just spent twenty minutes doing the setup process that will have to be repeated.  Also please take care there are likely to be unmarked computer and power leads (and they are black) to and from equipment, although members will endeavour to keep a weather eye out for you and warn you accordingly.


White lights are not banned but are frowned upon.   If you have to use them please point them at the ground when in use. It takes twenty minutes or so for eyes to establish night vision so the careless use of a white light is a major timewaster.  Red lights on a viewing night are much appreciated; they don’t interfere with night vision nearly as much.


When viewing through a telescope please listen carefully to the owner’s instructions, they really do want you to have the best possible sightings with clarity through the eye piece of their equipment, so please don’t twiddle knobs without being told to!!  It also may appear that we are taking our time handing the eye piece over to you.  The reason for the delay is to make sure that the image is correctly lined up in the centre of the field of focus and not just a blurred dot on the periphery, please bear with us.



Try to use the scope with both eyes open it will help to lessen eye strain over the course of an evening.  Also remove fingers from the focus wheels and don’t use the scope as a leaning post, all of our kit picks up body vibration and the images will appear as dough nuts or worst still, will not appear at all. Don’t worry about wearing spectacles; we should be able to compensate for most people who use them without asking for their removal or major adjustments to the scope.



Clear Skies and happy viewing, but do remember to keep your feet and body warm and dry – standing still on a cold night your body temperature will drop very quickly and soon spoil a great evening.



Enjoy yourself and the wondrous skies above!!