I’m just back from Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania and I can’t say enough about the fabulous dark skies there!! I’ll blog my experiences and hope that others add to this post.
Jim, Jackie and I arrived on Wednesday under a clear, blue sky. Jim’s scope was acting up on him and he didn’t get to use it that night, so he made good use of his binocular mount. I had my homemade 8” dob and had no trouble at all star-hopping because there were so many stars visible. At midnight, I checked the SQM reading and it was 21.93!
The Milky Way swung overhead in the early morning hours and it drew us away from our telescopes. The dark lanes and star clouds were amazing. We spent a fair bit of time just sitting in our lawn chairs to soak in the view!
Steve arrived on Thursday evening – another fabulous night (SQM at midnight: 21.84 - with the Milky Way overhead later on, the SQM dropped to 21.74) – and he treated us to fantastic views through the GWS.
Jim found the problem with his scope (faulty batteries, I believe) and spent the night touring the sky. I tracked down Markarian’s Chain – a line of galaxies in Virgo/Coma as well as the Bug Nebula, the Antennae galaxies and many other deep sky objects that just aren’t visible in an 8” scope here in the southern Ontario light pollution dome.
Thursday afternoon, the park finished up installing WIFI and we were able to access email and the internet from Jim’s laptop. With the installation of WIFI, I would have to say that Cherry Springs is now the perfect astronomy field!
We did some sightseeing on Friday morning. While Jim was navigating a narrow, winding road through the beautiful Pennsylvania forest, Jackie spotted a black bear and hollered for Jim to stop the van. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t a bear, just a big, black dog. As Jim said: Ursa Major turned into Canis Minor!
Jim, Jackie and I ended up leaving on Friday afternoon – earlier than planned. Sunstroke, black flies and sleep deprivation had me fantasizing for home and a weather report of less than perfect skies for Friday night was all it took to set me packing. Jim agreed and he and Jackie decided to leave as well. Our fearless leader, Steve, had planned on a week’s stay and he remained along with Jackie’s campstove, whatever supplies we could offer and our promise to take the clouds back home with us!
Next month, there is a star party at Cherry Springs State Park. The Cherry Springs Star Party runs from June 18 –21 and I hope you can join us there! Here is a link to their website: http://www.astrohbg.org/CSSP/Information.html
P.S. An extra big THANK YOU to Jim's mom for supplying tons of yummy food for all of us to enjoy. Her butter tart squares gave us the energy to observe all night!
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