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Company Seven's Star Watching Suggestions for the News Media

Star Party white light warning sign at Greenbank, W.V. 2011 (67,030 bytes) If this is your first event with us, or if it has been a while since you have been to one, please take a few minutes to review these guidelines. Understanding the intent of these will help to make your presence more welcome at these activities. Also, it will minimize crowd abuse of camera men and their lighting, and it should result in a better story (video and audio) for your organization.

  1. NO WHITE LIGHTS! In a dark environment, the human eye requires at least thirty minutes to dilate (or Rdark adaptS) so that it can see more of the faint objects to be viewed. Any observable white light will cause the eye to constrict. If one absolutely must turn on a light on site (especially where where people may be taking time-exposure astrophotography), then first yell out a warning "WHITE LIGHT", then wait 30 seconds. This may be relaxed during events such as a Lunar eclipse, or at others involving bright objects.

    Plan to arrive and set up your equipment before sunset. Daylight (or twilight) aids setting up anyway.

    Try to shoot whatever video footage of equipment (telescopes, etc.) you think you will need during the set up of that equipment, and before sunset or at twilight. Shooting with natural lighting will allow a more comfortable interview for the person (no squinting eyes from spotlights in the dark, etc.).

    If you need a live interview after dark while others are observing, then try to shoot any video portion of the interview near your van and pointing away from the general crowd.

  2. GET SUPPORT EARLY As you arrive, try to "Check-in" with our staff. They will be knowledgeable, and experienced to assist you with technical or scientific questions. They may be available for interviews. If so, then the appointment time and duration should be scheduled to avoid any last minute confusion or inconvenience.

    Company Seven has the optical and electronic systems available which will allow us to provide live feeds from our telescopes or lenses via distribution amplifiers to your transmitters or recorders. Please have your camera staff contact us (301-953-2000) in advance to assure we have available what will be required to support you.

  3. USE DIM RED LIGHTS For walking about the site, or reading notes, etc. Dim red lights will not affect night vision. Use these instead of unfiltered lights, but keep them dim. Remember, even bright red lights could ruin someone's astrophotography efforts.

  4. PARK BASED ON YOUR OBSERVING PLAN If you plan to stay all night, park away from the exit. If you are leaving early, park near the exit. Park so that you will not have to back up (white lights!). If you do not have a telescope, park away from the observers and walk over.

    If your vehicle arrives after dark, enter the site only with parking lights on; proceed slowly.

    If your vehicle departs during the event, exit the site only with parking lights on; proceed slowly.

  5. PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE We try to organize departure times usually of 10:00 P.M. and midnight at our (C-7) sponsored activities. If you absolutely have to leave at any other time, please yell a warning five minutes before you leave so that astrophotographer have time to save their photos, and others can shield their eyes. Remember your vehicle interior lights; you may simply cover the side and rear windows if it is convenient.

  6. NO SMOKING NEAR EQUIPMENT Be careful while lighting up if you smoke; and keep any smoke away from telescopes and accessories. Smoke is inhibitive or even corrosive to certain optical systems.

  7. PREPARE for the weather. Bring proper gear for any possibility (cold, or hot). Do not plan on rainwear - we typically will not be out if it is highly probable, but have a shelter (vehicle or tent) available to you.

  8. DRINK/FOOD You may bring provisions (a thermos of hot coffee or tea, or a jug of water); in the cold dehydration can be a problem. Do not bring alcoholic beverages - these have no positive effect physiologically or mentally at events such as these where your senses must be at their best.
Otherwise, feel free to mingle, ask questions. Most observers enjoy talking about their hobby!

We do not wish to appear as though our star parties are regulated by Nazis, but these guidelines help all to enjoy the opportunity.


Reinhard Heydrich, Jr.
Head of Corporate and Star Party Security


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