There’s nothing like enjoying a starry night away from the big city lights, and there’s no better time than summer to enjoy star gazing at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. It’s one of the darkest spots east of the Mississippi and a Gold Certified International Dark Sky Park.
Star Gazing at Its Best
Cherry Springs State Park’s gets its name from the large stands of black cherry trees found there. And despite the Park’s proximity to urban areas, it offers a 360-degree view of the night ski that’s free from light pollution.
That’s because the 82-acre park is situated on a hilltop surrounded by 262,000-acres of the Susquehannock State Forest. The Park is an ideal destination for nature loves, because it’s almost as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago, making its dark skies the perfect retreat for astronomers.
Short Term Star Gazing Area
If you’re visiting the area and would like to enjoy the bravura night sky at Cherry Springs for a few hours, they provide a Night Sky Viewing area located north of Rt. 44 (opposite the gated Astronomy Observation Field). Public parking is available and information kiosks and waysides are handy to help answer questions.
Guests should follow the walkway to the public program area equipped with benches which are strategically situated to shield from passing vehicle lights. A backlit summer sky map wayside is also available on this pathway.
Long-Term and Overnight Star Gazing
Long-term and overnight star gazers wishing to use the Astronomy Observation field are required to register and pay a user feed. Check the park bulletin board for the fee schedule and to list your location so you can be contacted in the event of an emergency.
Galaxy Passes are available for a one-time fee that provides access to Overnight Stargazing for the rest of the year. For more information, call 814-435-5010.
What to Bring
Bring a flashlight (a red filter or cover is recommended). For long-term and overnight stargazing, no white light is allowed on the observation field. When using your flashlight at the Park, don’t forget to always point the light downward.
Plus because Cherry Springs State Park is located at the top of a mountain, the weather can be cool so be sure to bring a jacket or sweater. It may also be damp, too, so plan accordingly with proper clothing and footwear. Guests are invited to bring their own blankets, lawn chairs, binoculars and telescopes, too. Check Park’s calendar of events for more information.
Photo credits: dcnr.state.pa.us