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HomeAstrophotographyThe Cherry Springs Star Social gathering is a Stargazing Paradise

The Cherry Springs Star Social gathering is a Stargazing Paradise

The Cherry Springs Star Social gathering has develop into an more and more common vacation spot for stargazers alongside the east coast, for good purpose. Now that the phrase is out concerning the pristine skies of Cherry Springs, the occasion sells out faster yearly. 

It’s held at a state park between Coudersport and Galeton in Potter County, Pennsylvania throughout the new moon in June. 

It takes place on the in a single day observing discipline at Cherry Springs State Park, which sits at 2,300 ft. elevation. The sphere gives nice views of the core of the Milky Manner and a 360-degree view of the night time sky. 

Cherry Springs State Park is an Worldwide Darkish Sky Park and one of many darkest places on the east coast. Its darkish skies are protected by the undeveloped forest across the park and the shielded lights from the close by communities.

Since that is the closest Darkish Sky Park to us, we attempt to attend this star celebration yearly. It takes us roughly 4 hours to get there and it’s effectively well worth the drive for the Bortle 2 skies. 

Arriving at Cherry Springs Star Social gathering

Registration for Cherry Springs usually opens in March and has offered out rapidly the previous couple of years. On the time of penning this submit, registration is simply over $55 USD per particular person. That features tenting on the in a single day observing discipline at some point of the star celebration, entry to energy in your gear, and an awesome lineup of scheduled talks and actions.

After registering, you’ll obtain a affirmation e-mail along with your digital tickets. It’s a good suggestion to print these out and produce them with you to the star celebration for checking in on the entrance gate upon arrival. 

The star celebration usually runs from Thursday – Sunday. In case you resolve to indicate up early (or keep later), you can be required to pay the state park charges for the additional days that you just resolve to remain.

While you arrive, you get a bundle with a schedule of occasions, star celebration guidelines, and a ticket for the raffle. 

Tenting on the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering (2022)

The place to Keep for the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering

As talked about in different star celebration posts, it’s at all times simpler to camp on-site on the star celebration. This is without doubt one of the places that we are able to drive to and due to this fact, we love tenting on the sector with our camper, Voyager 1.

There are three areas accessible for stargazing, although just one is related to the star celebration. 

  • In a single day Astronomy Statement Discipline: that is the place the star celebration is held. Your registration consists of entry to this discipline for glorious in a single day viewing.  White mild is prohibited on this space and solely dim, pink lights can be utilized. 
  • Evening Sky Public Viewing Space: this operates like a drop-in/short-term stargazing expertise and is positioned throughout the street from the in a single day commentary discipline. Lighting restrictions are usually not enforced right here, although, in your personal observing expertise, you might wish to have a pink filter or cowl in your flashlight to protect your night time imaginative and prescient.
  • Rustic Campground: additionally throughout the street from the observing discipline, there’s a campground for in a single day stargazing for informal stargazers. As a result of there aren’t any lighting restrictions, this space shouldn’t be advisable for severe stargazers.

Please observe, there aren’t any showers on web site. In case you are tenting, and wish entry to showers, there are some accessible at Lyman Run State Park (6 miles away) for a small payment.

Cherry Springs Star Party MapCherry Springs State Park Map

Along with the choices above, some folks choose to arrange their tools on the star celebration observing discipline and keep off web site at a close-by resort. In case you select this feature, you should definitely park your automobile throughout the street within the public parking space earlier than darkish. The gates shut at nightfall and there might be no in or out on the observing discipline. 

Meals and Meals Choices

In case you are tenting, think about that open flames are usually not permitted on the sector. This may affect what you pack for meals. If in case you have a cooler with meals, there are close by choices to purchase ice (just like the Cherry Springs Nation Retailer). Be aware of bears within the space and you should definitely retailer your meals and cooler in your automobile. 

There may be additionally a meals vendor on web site. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with their late-night hours till 2 a.m. for espresso and light-weight snacks. Like the remainder of the star celebration, the meals vendor tent might be adorned with pink lights. 

The city of Coudersport can also be a 21-minute drive and has further meals choices. There are different (smaller) choices accessible within the speedy neighborhood of the park. 

Occasions at Cherry Springs Star Social gathering

There are two days (Friday/Saturday) filled with actions on the star celebration, together with:

  • Audio system: there are a number of audio system all through Friday/Saturday. You’ll be able to verify the schedule for occasions, matters and speaker bios. 
  • Gear Swap: deliver your previous gear to swap or promote on the occasion. Examine the schedule for when this occasion takes place.
  • Raffle: there’s a door prize raffle with tons of prizes. Be sure you get your ticket once you register and verify the schedule for the deadline for submitting your ticket(s). Like most raffles, you should be current to win. 

Along with the onsite actions, there are different close by sights, comparable to different state parks and an Ice Mine

What to Convey

Along with your gear, you will wish to be sure you are ready for the cool climate.

As talked about, Cherry Springs State Park is positioned on a mountain, which implies the climate is usually cooler and might get very damp. Regardless that the occasion is held in June, it would be best to be sure you deliver loads of heat garments, together with heat footwear and a heavy jacket.

It additionally helps to have issues like blankets, garden chairs, binoculars, and tarps or telescope covers in your tools. 


Unspoiled Darkish Skies

The darkish, Bortle Scale class 2 skies of Cherry Springs are unbelievable. This web site is darkish sufficient for Venus to solid a shadow, and zodiacal mild is seen on a great night time.

On a very unbelievable night time at Cherry Springs (throughout the Black Forest Star Social gathering within the fall), I used to be in a position to see the Triangulum Galaxy with my bare eye.

The timing of the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering in June means that it’s the good time to observe the Milky Manner core rising above the southeastern horizon.

Milky Manner images and nightscape images are common selections at this occasion. It’s also an awesome location to take a timelapse of the night time sky with a sea of pink lights beneath. 

The Milky Way from the Cherry Springs Star Party

The Milky Manner from the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering.

Some of the gratifying experiences at Cherry Springs is just mendacity down in a zero-gravity chair and looking out up.

You don’t want a telescope to benefit from the skies at Cherry Springs, your bare eye will reveal numerous stars and even vibrant nebulae when your eyes have tailored to the darkness. 

Deep-Sky Astrophotography

Whereas on the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering, we wish to benefit from the darkish skies and shoot unfiltered, usually going after one thing within the core of the Milky Manner. 

It’s smart to benefit from the darkish, new moon skies of the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering, and seize a deep-sky object that isn’t doable to shoot from residence. 

Which means narrowband imaging shouldn’t be a sensible alternative, as this sort of astrophotography could be achieved efficiently in areas with heavy mild air pollution.

As an alternative, concentrate on more difficult broadband targets comparable to darkish nebulae, or reflection nebulae that require darkish skies and loads of publicity time to seize. 

We’ve shot a wide range of targets from this location, together with:

Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complicated taken by Ashley at Cherry Springs (2022).

When taking photos from this park, I normally take exposures of about 2 minutes lengthy relying on the goal I’m taking pictures.

With high quality darkish skies like this, an integration of 1-hour will present a wholesome signal-to-noise ratio, with an extremely clear picture.

A typical deep-sky undertaking from this location consists of 2-3 hours of complete publicity time, utilizing exposures between 90-120 seconds every.

Blue Horsehead Nebula

The Blue Horsehead Nebula taken by Trevor at Cherry Springs (2022).

Guidelines at Cherry Springs

Like most star events, there are guidelines for guaranteeing that everybody enjoys their star celebration expertise. Beneath are the principles for the Cherry Springs Star Social gathering. 

  • No Driving after sundown: the entrance gate to the observing discipline will shut at nightfall and reopen at daybreak. All the time comply with the posted velocity restrict when driving within the park.
  • No campfires: no open flames allowed on the in a single day observing discipline. 
  • No white mild: Dim pink lights solely after sundown, no white mild allowed after darkish. This consists of inside and exterior lighting for automobiles, tents and RVs, and electronics. 
  • Electrical pedestals on the sector are for powering astronomical tools, computer systems and small home equipment solely. 

Cherry Spring Star Social gathering Impressions

The parents on the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg throw an awesome star celebration. It’s at all times rather well organized, with loads of communication and signage main as much as and on the occasion. Employees are round all through the length of the star celebration and are at all times very welcoming.

It’s also a first-rate location for capturing the core of the Milky Manner with nice views of most of the summer season constellations and deep-sky objects. 

After coming for a few years, this has develop into one in all our favourite star events. We love that we are able to benefit from the full star celebration expertise tenting on the sector in our camper and get the prospect to satisfy many new (and infrequently repeat) astrophotographers and visible astronomers. It’s an awesome place to ‘geek out’ and discuss store about astronomy. 

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