the weekend nearest the New Moon of each month, the members and friends
of the Auburn Astronomical Society load up their telescopes and meet under
dark skies at remote locations, away from the glare of city lights, to
share the unearthly beauty of celestial objects that are invisible to the
Aside from the aesthetic value, much can be learned from the shared experience of seasoned observers. Those considering purchasing a telescope can find no better setting for trying out a wide assortment of optical and mechanical telescope designs as well as myriad accessories such as eyepieces, charts, and filters.
Here are a few suggestions to help make the evening enjoyable for everyone:
1. Avoid the use of bright lights. It takes at least an hour for our eyes to dark adapt for optimal observing. A blast of photons to the retina starts to process over from the beginning. The worse offenders include unfiltered flashlights, interior / dome automobile lights, back-up lights, and headlights.* The best approach is to arrive at the site well before dark so that you can see how to set up your equipment and let it cool to ambient temperature while waiting for twilight to end. It's also a good idea to park your vehicles headed back toward the entrance in case you have to leave early in order to minimize headlight trauma for those staying later. Parking lights are tolerated if you have to leave. If headlight use just can't be avoided, it's not a capital offense. If you have to use them go ahead. We'd rather lose night vision for a while, that have someone run over the telescopes. ;-)
Photo by Aaron Wilson
Many people find that listening to music while observing enhances the experience.
Just remember -- not everyone shares your taste in music. Keep it low or
3. Always ask permission to view through someone else's telescope. Most of us enjoy sharing our toys if we're not busy working on an observing list or doing astrophotography. If there's some special object you like to see, just ask.
4. Remember that we are guests on someone's private property and that these sites are not easy to come by. Let's be sure to leave the place as we found it.
* If your GM vehicle has "daytime running lights", they can be disabled by depressing "1 click" on the parking brake pedal. Just remember to hit the parking brake release as you leave.