Have you been invited to a UFO Watch party? Well, what is it and is it the same thing as a Sky Watch party?
While similar, these two functions are different due to the different goals for each watch party.
Sky Watch (aka Star Party) parties are functions put on by astronomical groups/clubs with the goal of observing the night sky for astronomical occurrences such as finding planets, constellations, meteor showers, watching a comet, viewing the moon, viewing eclipses, etc. A sky watch is done usually with a telescope, specialized camera equipment, and/or binoculars. A sky watch is typically held away from the city lights and other light pollution for a better glimpse of everything beyond our atmosphere.
"How to Throw A Star Party" Space.com
"Party With The Stars" Sky & Telescope
"Star Parties" Ft. Worth Astronomical Society
UFO Watch parties are functions put on by UFO groups/enthusiasts with the goal of possibly seeing a UFO. People might show up with telescopes, specialized cameras, and binoculars - just like the Sky Watch people; but, they might also show up with short-wave radios, parabolic ear, thermal imaging cameras, and other equipment that is perceived to possibly pick up UFO activity. A UFO Watch might also have plans to try a CE5 event (close encounter of the 5th kind), as detailed by Dr. Steven Greer (LINK). UFO Watch parties tend to find a spot where people can hang out and chit chat, watch the sky for UFOs, and not be bothersome to others. They aren't as worried about light pollution, but sometimes finding a spot where they can overlook their city is preferred or where they can clearly observe a local UFO hot spot.
Unfortunately, there aren't many guides or articles on a UFO Watch. Odd since it's not a new concept.
"UFO Spotting Has Replaced Bird Watching as Pandemic Obsession" Wall Street Journal
As seen in 'Close Encounters of The Third Kind' - where Roy and Gillian first meet
As seen on 'X-Files' in episode "E.B.E." s01e16
The DOs and DON'Ts
Portable Lights - Yes, UFO Watch. No, Sky Watch - unless there are guidelines to follow for portable lights. For a Sky Watch, often there are "light tents" (a tent where light can be used, but doesn't allow light pollution) or designated areas for light use.
Toilet Paper - Yes, UFO and Sky Watch. Often you're not in range of a bathroom or port-a-potty and must find a bush to go behind.
Music - No, Sky Watch. Sometimes Okay, UFO Watch. Mostly people will just tune into the local AM station that plays 'Coast to Coast AM' because not everyone likes the same music. Don't blare your music.
Lasers - No, UFO and Sky Watch. In general, just say no to people using a laser at an event. If a powerful enough laser is aimed at an aircraft or drone, that is illegal. (LINK to FAA information)
Food & Drink - Limited Yes, Sky and UFO Watch. Easy to eat foods like cookies, trail mix, sandwiches, fruit, or veggies are totally okay. Setting up a grill is NOT okay unless agreed upon ahead of time. Since these events are typically at night, avoid anything that will lure unwanted animals to your area. With beverages, most people bring water or coffee. Alcohol is NOT okay unless agreed upon ahead of time (typically only if you're camping at a spot overnight).
Trash Clean Up - Yes, Sky and UFO Watch. The best way to keep your group off the radar of just about everyone is to clean up after yourselves. There shouldn't be a whole lot to clean up, so just do your part to help the planet not be an open trash bin.
New Tech - Yes, Sky and UFO Watch. People are always encouraged to try new technology and new techniques for these events. You'll probably have to explain what it is and how it's supposed to work. This keeps it exciting!
Campfire - Limited Yes, UFO Watch (if permitted in the area and okay with the group). No, Sky Watch. If you are allowed to have a campfire in the area you're in and everyone agrees to it, during a UFO Watch, it is acceptable. It's best to announce it before the event so people can bring camp chairs. Be aware that the light from a campfire can throw off the night settings of digital cameras/video. It can also cause lens flare.
5 Fun Food Items for a UFO Watch Party
Just for fun, I thought I'd list some foods you can make for a UFO Watch Party. I suppose they might work for a Sky Watch as well.
Chocolate-Sunbutter UFO Cookies - Recipe Link
Homemade Moon Pies - Recipe Link
Earth Cookies - Recipe Link
Star Sandwich - Recipe Link
Galactic Brownies - Recipe Link