COUDERSPORT, Pa. (WHTM) – Cherry Springs State Park is located in Potter County and it’s known as the “Dark Sky Park.”
People from all over the United States and the world visit this park to see the stars.
“We are surrounded by state forest, which really cuts down on the light pollution, and we are on top of a really tall mountain,” environmental education specialist Marissa Galeotti said.
Most of us live around a lot of light, which prevents us from seeing all of the stars in the sky.
“Today, eight out of 10 people never get to see the Milky Way,” Galeotti said.
You can see the Milky Way at Cherry Springs. Many visitors go to the public viewing area, which has bench seating. You don’t need to be an expert. Park staff set up telescopes and help you navigate the night sky.
“This summer we can see Saturn and with our park telescopes you can see the rings of Saturn, which is really cool,” Galeotti said. “Shooting stars and meteors also get a lot of oohs and ahs because people don’t get to see them a lot of times where they are from.”
The park also features an Astronomy Observation Field for more serious astronomers. That’s where the Harrisburg Astronomical Society holds their annual Cherry Springs Star Party.
“The idea is to get people together to have the camaraderie of fellow astronomers, to look at interesting objects, as well as here’s some excellent speakers,” said Doug Grove, vice president of the astronomical society.
It turns out what we see in the night sky is a picture of the past.
“To look at a star that is 500 light years away and know that that star exists now, as we see it now, but it may have actually blown up and we don’t know it yet, and that is what’s so interesting,” Grove said. “We are actually seeing the universe how it was, not how it is.”
If you plan to visit for star gazing, get there early so you can find your way in the daylight. Leave your pets and white lights at home.
“If you don’t have a red light, you can bring your white light and pick up a piece of cellophane at the kiosks,” Galeotti said.
Adventure PA Checklist:
Location: Cherry Springs State Park is off Route 6 on Route 44 between Coudersport and Galeton. It is about three hours and 15 minutes from Harrisburg.
Accommodations: The park has rustic camping and rustic bathrooms.
Cost: Camping rates range from $13 to $36 dollars a night. There is no cost for the public viewing area. The park typically holds programs Friday and Saturday nights. You can register online. The Astronomy Observation Field costs $15 a night and you must stay overnight. You can get a Galaxy Pass for the season for $65.
Best time to visit: If you want to see the stars, plan your visit during the new moon.
For more information: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/cherrysprings/index.htm