We’ve established some rules to help assure the very best possible “TSP experience” for our attendees. Adding rules is something we would prefer not to do, but is essential whenever you bring hundreds of people together in one space for over a week. Your awareness of these rules will make a difference in helping things go smoothly for everyone.
Please Read the following information!
You and members of your family, if attending, are expected to know and understand all of the TSP Rules, Procedures and Policies contained below.
- Lighting Restrictions – After dark, lighting is limited to “Red Light”!
- No Driving On Ranch at Night – A real safety issue
Staying offsite? Park outside front gate and walk in!
- Electricity Use Rules – TSP power cords are only for telescope equipment!
- Computers and Displays – limits on brightness and power usage
- Observing Field Usage – how and where to set up
- Dry-Camping Your Car, Truck, or RV – camping with vehicles
- Internet – Wireless internet on Ranch
- Smoking – No smoking ON THE OBSERVING FIELDS and in various areas
- Music – Lasers –Dogs/pets – Drones/airplanes – Alcohol
The Texas Star Party is well-known for restricting activity and banning all lights after sundown. This provides a unique opportunity for you to become fully dark-adapted and remain so while observing under the dark skies. The Ranch will be dark from Sunday night through the final Saturday night, giving seven nights with no lights on the Ranch. The following rules will be strictly enforced. We hope everyone will cooperate so that we can guarantee “star party dark” skies to each observer.
- Vehicle headlights, parking lights, tail and brake lights, and interior dome lights must remain extinguished.
- All RV, trailer, and camper lights must be extinguished, unless proper shielding is installed on all windows and doors to prevent light escaping. This includes excessive lighting from the interior of open-ended observing trailers, which will require either dark curtains or facing away from observers.
- Coleman-type lanterns, campfires, grills, and outdoor lighting are NOT permitted at night.
- All flashlights must be equipped with red filters and should be pointed toward the ground at your feet. Red cellophane or fingernail polish is useful. Dim RED lighting for reading star maps and equipment illumination is allowed.
- Laser pointers and any other form of lighting is not permitted during dark out, as these interfere with the observing/astrophotography by other attendees.
- In the event you must give off some light, give a yell! A precious photograph could be saved with a little warning.
The lighting ban will be in effect when the sky is more than 10% clear. If it is raining, the ban will be lifted. If it is cloudy with the potential for clearing or there are some holes in the clouds, please keep white lights to a minimum to protect other people’s dark adaptation. Drive only if you must and use normal headlights.
Exceptions to the ban may be provided to certain persons or vehicles only by consent of the TSP staff. Please understand that Ranch employees have business to conduct from time to time, but will keep driving to a minimum to avoid disturbance.
No Driving On Ranch at Night:
You will be permanently banned from any future Texas Star Party, if you drive a vehicle on the Prude Ranch when the Lighting Controls are in effect!!
Law Enforcement, Emergency Vehicles, Ranch Staff, Security Staff and TSP Management are the only persons who have the authority to drive on the ranch at night. (Except in a declared Emergency-Attendees can drive on the Ranch when “Dark Out Rules are in Effect”). When they are driving on the ranch at night, they have a work and/or safety related issue(s) they are dealing with. Stay off of the roads and out of the path of their moving vehicles. They have the right of way, you do not…even if you are walking. They cannot see you in the dark. Ranch staff and TSP Management and Security at times will need to drive on the ranch at night to address maintenance issues and security/emergency issues. During those times, vehicle lighting will need to be used for their safety and your safety. Also during these maintenance and security/emergency periods other white light sources can and will be used to address these maintenance/safety/emergency related issues. TSP and the Prude Ranch Staff will endeavor to minimize the amount and duration of white light use. Your patience and understanding will be appreciated.
Trying to drive in the dark without lights is dangerous and can injure or kill people, damage telescopes and other property, none of which are yours to risk.
Normal headlights are justified in true medical emergencies.
For Late Arrivals and Non-Ranch Guests: The front gates of the Ranch are closed at 9:00 PM to restrict traffic and minimize disturbance to observers. DO NOT plan to arrive and drive-in at night. Park your car outside the gates if you plan to leave during the night. When you park your vehicle outside the gates, please park your vehicle with its headlights facing away from the ranch. You can read more at outside front gate.
Electricity Use Rules:
Due to heavy demand in the telescope fields, we are limiting the use of electricity by providing top priority to telescope equipment. The following rules are in effect at all times, day or night:
- Only telescope drive equipment, anti-dew gear, laptop computers may be connected to TSP power outlets.
- Appliances such as hot-plates, coffee pots, fans, heaters, and refrigerators are NOT to be connected to TSP power outlets.
- Use the LOWEST-HEAT setting on your hair-dryers and avoid running yours when you hear another one being used nearby.
- TSP reserves the right to limit an observer’s total power usage to 1 Amp for all power cords serving your equipment in cases where there are too many users on TSP power circuits. You may also be required to relocate your setup or move your power connection to a less dense area. TSP reserves the right to disconnect your power cords to insert power measurement equipment.
- Power wires are not permitted inside sleeping tents/trailers/etc, except with approved medical-waiver tag or if located in a Prude Ranch RV site.
- If you have a power wire leading into your unattended (enclosed) observing tent/trailer/etc. you must disconnect from TSP power lines until you return the next day. Anything that remains connected (low-power chargers, etc) must be placed outside where TSP staff can see/access it (safety/consumption reasons).
- TSP reserves the right to disconnect and/or remove any power cord that is in violation or that appears to be a safety hazard.
These rules do not apply to personal RV electric connections. “Full size” computer users should obtain an RV site or make arrangements with an RV site user.
NOTE: Power Generators – Inverters Type Generators can be run between the hours of 11am to 5pm. This includes both Inverter-Portable Generators and Inverter-Generators in RV’s. Non-inverter electric generators are not allowed because of the loud noise they make. When you run your Portable and RV electric generators (even if they are of an Inverter Type of Electric Generator) if they emit enough noise to cause a noise complaint to be lodged, you will NOT be be allowed to continue to run your electric generator. Please do not abuse this privilege and cause us to revert back to the no generator rule. Thank you. TSP Management.
Computer & Display Rules:
If you are going to bring a Personal Computer to use at TSP during “blackout”, the following rules apply:
- Only Laptop computers/viewers to be connected to TSP power cords.
- Display screens must be used at very low intensity (0.10 lux when measured 22″ from center of screen displaying black star map)
- Computer displays where the screen has been changed to “Red” are still emitting “White Light” unless the display is a QLED or equivalent Display. All other displays, even though the screen looks “Red” it is still putting out “White Light”. These displays must be covered with a physical “Red Filter”.
- Display screens must be covered with red material or sufficiently shielded so light from them will not disturb neighboring observers. No white light should be visible from your laptop. That includes your keyboard. Only red keyboard light is allowed.
- If you plan to operate your PC or viewer from inside your tent or trailer, install proper shielding to prevent light from escaping.
Observing Field Usage:
Also see smoking rules below. No smoking or vaping on any observing field. Starting last year in 2022, a smoking ban was instituted on all fields and a 50 foot perimeter around all fields and building. There will be no permitted smoking or vaping areas on any observing field.
Also see Dry-Camping Your Car, Truck, or RV.
There will be no tents (sleeping or storage) allowed in the middle of the observing fields. On the Upper and Central fields, tents are permitted in marked areas of the field perimeters, but not blocking roadways/entrances.
Approved areas for setting up tents on the Upper and Central fields will be marked. A road through the Upper field will also be marked. A map will be available at the Ranch Office. Do not leave cars parked on the observing fields, remove them as soon as you have loaded/unloaded.
SPEEDING!! DON’T DO IT!
The vehicle speed on Ranch roads is 5 MPH or less. One the upper field, vehicle speed is limited to less than 5 MPH. If you speed on the upper field, you are damaging everyone’s telescopes and related equipment with the dirt and dust you are throwing up in the air. If you are reported to TSP Security, you will be told to leave the property. This is serious business. Not only are you damaging other people’s equipment, you run the risk of hitting someone. SPEED KILLS! DO NOT SPEED on the Ranch roads and on the observing fields. IF YOU SPEED ON THE RANCH, TSP SECURITY WILL NOT BE HAPPY! AND IF TSP SECURITY IS NOT HAPPY, WHEN HE CATCHES UP WITH YOU, YOU WILL NOT BE HAPPY!
We want to maximize the amount of telescope space available, prevent tents from blocking the horizon for telescopes, and to limit the possibility of injuries caused by tripping on tent/awning support ropes and spikes.
Use of Kendrick type tents and other “portable” observatories and “wind breaks”: cannot be setup ON ANY FIELD where it blocks view of a neighbor’s scope more than 30 degrees above horizon, without permission of your nearby neighbor. Upper and Central fields: Can be set up in observing area, but only along outer edge of observing area (no other scopes between you and the edge of field), except if you are with an observing group that is on the field edge.
In fairness to other attendees, please do not stake-out spots in advance for your friends who have not yet arrived. Our observing fields are on a 1st to arrive, 1st to setup their equipment where ever they find an open spot. Do not approach anyone and tell them that the location they have setup their equipment is “Your Spot”. There is no “Your Spots”. 1st one there get the location of their choice. Play nice! This is a pet peeve of TSP Security’s. If someone has set up in a location you have been in before. Find another location. Do not create a scene!
Upper Field maps will be available in the Front Office, showing camping areas, field rules and setup guidelines. Or you can download here. Upper Field Map
North (Upper) field Rules, if you decide to camp or observe here!
Internet Usage at TSP:
Also see the Prude Ranch Internet page.
TSP is no longer providing internet service in the observing fields, except that which occurs incidentally from nearby housing/public areas. The Ranch is the provider of the internet service not TSP.
Telescope-related Internet and Bluetooth devices are NO LONGER BANNED at nighttime!
- SkyFi Wireless Telescope Controller (Wi-Fi)
- Hubble Sky Hub (bluetooth)
- Orion StarSeek Wi-Fi Module
- Meade Wireless Autostar II Computer Controller (bluetooth)
- Starry Night BlueStar Wireless Telescope Controller (bluetooth)
We are unable to support a high density of these devices in our area, with so many people. You should anticipate that the wireless internet capacity on the fields will be greatly reduced and your observing neighbors with similar devices will likely experience interference, contention, and other problems. TSP cannot increase the capacity other than to pay for an increase in the bandwidth but that is not always sufficient to accommodate all of the device that are active on the Ranch during TSP. Click Here for More Explanation.
One possible solution is to use a wired-connection, such as the SkyWire Serial Accessory, which uses a direct wire to your telescope.
Internet service is provided by Prude Ranch in other areas of the Ranch (not the observing fields) such as in/near the dining hall and meeting room, and near some housing/RV areas.
- Do Not operate your own Wireless Router, Access Point, Range Extender, Wireless Print Server, Wireless Peer-to-Peer Network, Wireless Remote Control System or Bluetooth device during TSP. There are a limited number of open frequencies in the area and Prude Ranch uses all of them to deliver Internet access. Turning on your Wireless Router (or any device listed above) will slow response times for everyone else unnecessarily (due to radio switching) as the competing routers work out whose computer goes to what router.
It is okay to use your own
- wire-only router or switch to build a network
- built-in or external wireless access adapter or card to connect to the TSP system as a client.
- USB or similar wireless access device that gives your computer wireless connection to the Prude Ranch wireless system as a client.
- Bluetooth devices use the same frequencies as the Prude Ranch wireless routers and can cause interference to users connecting with their network. Bluetooth devices include wireless headphones for cellphones, MP3 players and I-Pods, as well as some remote controllers for telescopes/focusers.
- Not intended for intensive applications such as video, music, or Internet games, which demand high-bandwidth for GUI or data transfer.
- We reserve the right to disconnect your computer access and/or exclude offending wireless equipment from TSP for this or similar abuse, without notice.
Music and… “Star Wars” (lasers!):
We love music. What do you think are the chances of 700 people agreeing on what music you get to play? There is a ban on the playing of music through speakers from 12 midnight to 10 AM. You may continue your private enjoyment through headphones however. All other times, music through speakers must be kept at low volume, so as to not disturb nearby people. (Preference is for headphones at all times. Please use discretion.)
“Star Wars” devices (lasers) are permitted (except during dark-out rules), however you are not allowed to point them at other people. Shoot the sky or nearby mountains by pointing your device above the ground (away from people). While playing with cooperative friends is fine, there are usually innocent (and unhappy) bystanders that get blinded.
Alcohol & Pets…
Boisterous or loud/obnoxious behavior will not be permitted at TSP, especially during observing conditions, or late at night. Drunken behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion from the TSP event.
Dogs are no longer permitted at TSP (except in RV’s and service dogs). TSP and Prude Ranch does not allow any pets inside any room unless that pet (i.e. is a service Dog or in an RV) Unless approved by TSP Security, pets are not allowed on any observing field. Anyone who walks their pet in or around an observing field will be told to remove their pet from the ranch property. This is due to persistent problems with barking, uncleaned messes (a problem in observing fields at night!), as well as TSP liability over unpredictable dog behavior in night environments in the outdoors with strangers around. Walk you pet in areas of the ranch that are not populated by attendees and pick up your pets stool and dispose of properly. Any pet exhibiting aggressive behavior, the owner will be told to remove their pet from the Ranch property. Attendees with pets will not be given a warning. They will simply and clearly be instructed to remove their pet.
The Ranch also has rules banning attendee dogs in rooms and public buildings. If your pet has an emergency, the local vet is Fort Davis Veterinary Services at 432-426-3086.
There is an exception to the Dog Ban.
With this exception, dogs must have all of their vaccinations current and show proof of the pet’s vaccinations if requested. Attendees who are RV’ing while at TSP can have their dogs with them. The dogs must stay inside their RV except to go outside for leashed walks that are not on or near an observing field, building, road, used foot-path and/or any area where people gather. You must pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s stool. You must control your dog at all times. You are responsible for your dog’s behavior. Any reported/observed aggressive behavior that your dog displays will be justification for you to be asked to remove your dog from ranch property. Any refusal to comply, will be justification for you being asked to leave and possibly being banned from attending future TSP Star Parties and Event. You must notify the Front Gate team and/or TSP Security that you have a dog in your RV and what RV space you have been assigned. Do not leave your dog alone for long periods of time. Please observe and follow our requirements. Your cooperation will help insure that TSP will be able to allow RV’ers the ability to keep their dog with them at future events. If we encounter problems in compliance, the previous “No dogs except Service Dogs” will be reinstituted. Thank You TSP management.
To fly any (RCC) remote control craft (DRONE PLANE, HELECOPTER, etc) over any PART OF THE RANCH, the owner must first obtain an RCC Permit from TSP Head of Security. A member of the TSP HAM SHACK can contact TSP Head of Security if you need to obtain your RCC Permit. Even if approved, you cannot fly during the TSP lighting ban (Blackout). All craft must follow FAA Rules, if applicable.
There is a NO FLY ZONE OF 100 FOOT RADIUS AROUND THE HAM SHACK.
The decision to ban smoking on all of the fields is a health and safety concern for all attendees.
No smoking of cigars, pipes, cigarettes, and electronic/vapor cigarette devices on any of the TSP observing fields. Do not smoke on any observing field. There will be TSP Staff monitors on each field to monitor for tripping violations, smoking and lighting violations. They will be empowered to ask you to stop smoking and/or help you find a red light solution for your white light violations and any tripping violations.
All of the North Field is NON SMOKING. All observing fields are non smoking. This ban includes all tobacco products, vaping and e-cigarettes.
There will be a 50 foot non-smoking perimeter around all observing fields.
The Ranch has also implemented a no-smoking policy for all buildings. If you smoke, please do so outside and 50 feet OR more away from any doorway/entrance. Please clean up your cigarette butts from the ground and dispose of them or field strip them and throw the paper and filter in a trash can.
Now that you know the rules! Have fun!