12th Annual Black Forest Star Party, Aug 25 – 27

Photo: Terrence Dickenson

The Black Forest Star Party is an annual dark-sky amateur astronomy observing event hosted by the Central Pennsylvania Observers (CPO). Held every year since 1999, the BFSP generally spans a weekend in the late summer or early fall in Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pennsylvania.  This year it will be held August 26 – 28.  This is a pre-paid, pre-registered event and information on registration is available at the Central Pennsylvania Observers BFSP website at http://bfsp.org/starparty/about.cfm.

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the darkest sites in the state of Pennsylvania and has been designated as Pennsylvania’s first Dark Sky Park by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The park was also designated as a Gold Level Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association – the second park in the world to receive this classification.  The amateur astronomers who have attended the BFSP can testify that the skies can be great!  Star party attendees take the time not only to observe the spectacular night skies, but also attend lectures held during the day and visit with many astronomy related vendors who are set up to sell their wares at the star party.

The general public is invited to come visit the star party on Saturday, August 27 from the hours of 7 pm to 11 pm.  Many of the astronomers will be volunteering the scopes for the public to look through and coming just before dark will allow visitors to see the hundreds of different kinds of telescopes that are on the field.  Visitors should not arrive any earlier than 7 pm. Please bring a small flashlight with a red lens cover or if needed, a Dark Sky Team member will be able to provide flashlights with a temporary red cover.  Visitors will need to park their vehicles in the Night Sky Viewing Area public parking lot located on the north side of the park and walk onto the Astronomy Observation Field.  The gate to that field gets closed at dark and no vehicular traffic is permitted in or out at that time.  It can get quite cool and damp so appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn.  Flip flops are strongly advised against. Also, absolutely NO PETS are permitted, so please leave them at home.  Visitors are reminded that they must vacate the Observation Field by 11 pm so the star party attendees can continue with their own observing.  Anyone wishing to stay later my continue to observe the star at the Night Sky Viewing Area amphitheater located adjacent to the parking lots. There are benches for sitting in that area as well.

Close to 500 astronomers will be attending this year’s Black Forest Star Party and the public visiting night is an excellent opportunity to see deep sky objects through different telescopes of varying powers.  This is also a great time to talk to different astronomers about telescopes if you are planning on purchasing one…they have the knowledge and experience and are willing to share that information with anyone who is interested in pursuing the hobby of amateur astronomy.  In the event that the skies are overcast, or it is raining, the program will not be held and will be cancelled.  You may check with the Lyman Run State Park office prior to driving out to Cherry Springs if the weather isn’t cooperating.  The park office phone number is (814) 435-5010.

Park sponsored Tours of the Night Sky will continue until mid-October.  Stargaze programs are held on the dark-of-the-moon weekends, and lunar and nocturnal wildlife programs are held when the moon’s brightness blocks the view of the stars.  Program information is available on the DCNR calendar of events webpage at ww.dcnr.state.pa.us/Calendar/list.asp or by calling the Lyman Run State Park office at the number above.  General information about Cherry Springs and stargazing is available at the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund/Association website at: www.csspdarkskyfund.org.

 


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One Comment

  1. anonymous says:

    really up to the minute news ya got ur self here!

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