Stargazing at Cherry Springs State Park
Located just to our south east is The Dark Skies Preserve at Cherry Springs State Park. Truly a national treasure, it is the second international Dark Sky Park in USA and the only one on the east coast. On clear nights you may see the sky as you have never seen it before.
Operated by the DCNR (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) Cherry Springs State Park is nearly as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago. Its dark skies make it a haven for astronomers. Named for the large stands of black cherry trees in the park, the 82-acre state park is surrounded by the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest.
Due to it’s exceptionally dark skies, Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best places in the eastern seaboard for stargazing and the science of astronomy, which is the study of observation of planets, nebulae, galaxies, stars and other heavenly bodies.
A dark night sky is a natural resource, just like plants, waterways and wildlife. Recognizing that this unique resource needed to be managed and protected, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources declared Cherry Springs State Park the first Dark Sky Park.
The dark sky experience-a combination of attributes making Cherry Springs ideal for stargazing astronomy.
• The field is at the top of a 2,300 foot high mountain. The surrounding state forest is relatively undeveloped and nearby communities are in valleys, shielding any light that might affect the park.
• The location of the park, 41.6501° north, 77.8164° West, offers a great view of the nucleus of the Milky Way galaxy.
• The airspace over the park has little commercial air traffic, making the park ideal for astro-photography.
• The astronomy field offers excellent 360° view of the night sky.
• All lighting in the park is shielded and all white light is converted to red.
Plan to attend a Star Party! A star party is a gathering of amateur astronomers and stargazers. There are telescopes, guest lectures, camaraderie, astronomy equipment vendors and an evening of public stargazing.
Cherry Springs Star Party, is held each June and is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg.
The Black Forest Star Party, is held in the fall and is sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Observers of State College.