Pamela Cooper offers 13 rules on how to behave at a celestial gathering
- You must be able to stay up all night.
- You must be able to get up early to see the planets rise above the horizon before 5am (helps if you achieve 1).
- You must not turn on a light, a phone screen, a candle (!) or even a torch after sunset, unless it has a red cover. This red cover must be so thick that if you turn on the torch in daylight it will not show a red mark on your hand. About 8 layers of cellophane should do it.
Once you have the red light in place, do not expect to be able to read anything with it.
- Memorise all the star charts pertaining to the areas of the sky you will be looking at, because of 4.
- Do not wear high heels. You will be moving between telescopes on a lawn in the dark.
Don’t push to the front of the queue to look through the eyepiece. The object will still be visible (although in different parts of the sky) for at least 6 hours.
- You can go to the back of the queue for another look.
- A flask of coffee or your favourite tipple (can result in seeing double the number of stars) and a big chocolate will go a long way to adding comfort to your viewing.
You will be in the company of some seriously intelligent people. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
- Be prepared to be amazed and awed by the vastness of what is out there.
- Don’t worry if you can’t remember the names of any of the stars or constellations. Just enjoy the view.
- Do try to identify the planets. There are only a few to remember and you are already standing on one of them.
The event held near Bonnievale was tremendously enjoyable, the company scintillating, and the weather at night absolute perfection. Ready to do it again!