Astronomy is a great pastime and provides us all with countless hours of enjoyment – but remember these simple precautions if you’re heading out:
The Golden Rule – Don’t go it Alone
Remember, you’re going out to a public place, in the dark, with probably a few hundred (maybe thousand) pounds worth of kit. ¬†Make sure you take someone with you.
If you’re meeting a new group, consider taking someone you know with you, at least the first time.
When it’s time to leave, never leave a person on their own. ¬†The last two should always leave together.
Check the Area First
Astronomers aren’t the only people using remote car parks and beauty spots at night, if you know what I mean. ¬†It’s worth making sure the area is safe. ¬†Be aware of parked vehicles with people sitting in them. ¬†If you feel unsafe, take a rain-check.
It’s sometimes a good idea to visit a site in the daytime first – because there may be hazards that you won’t spot in the dark, such as low fences (I’ve been caught out by that one myself), rabbit holes or boggy ground. ¬†This will also allow you to properly take in any warning signs, so that you won’t accidentally get in trouble (e.g. with landowners).
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. ¬†If you’re going to be late, give them a call or agree another method such as text message.
Keep Your Vehicle Secure
Beauty spots such as National Trust car parks are often hotspots for vehicle crime – if you’re not right next to your vehicle, make sure it is locked with no equipment on display.
If you’ve got any more tips for safe observing, please add a comment!