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Dark-Sky Sites:

Pennsylvania

 

 

 

Sites:

 


Town: Cherry Springs

Observing site: Cherry Springs State Park
 
Address: Route 44

Zip Code: 16922
 
Contact:  Thom Bemus
 
URL: http://www.upstateastro.org/stars/cssp.html

Any restrictions: State Camping Fee required
 
Directions: From the north, take Route 6 to Sweden Valley, then turn south on Route 44 for 11 miles to Cherry Springs.  From the southeast, take Route 220 to Jersey Shore (blends with I-180 in Williamsport) then head north on Route 44 for 55 miles to the park.  From the southwest, take I-80 to Route 53 north (exit 21).  Continue to Route 144 north in Moshannon.  Take Rt 144 north into Carter Camp.  Turn left onto Rt 44 and proceed about 7-10 miles to the park.  Create a map using Mapquest.com.

Current weather:     Click for Galeton, Pennsylvania Forecast

Clear Sky Clock © Copyright A.Danko

How are the sky conditions?  This site was chosen based on light pollution satellite image of PA and offers the darkest skies in the state.
Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 7
     East: 6.5+
     West: 6.5+
     North: 6.5+
     South: 6.5+

Best horizon: not specified
 
Worst horizon: not specified
 
Comments from contributor:  Cherry Springs State Park, in Potter County, has a 360 degree view and is located at an elevation of 2,400 feet.  This sight has NO light pollution sky glow; absolutely none in all directions.  This is one of the darkest observing locations in the state of PA.

Cherry Springs, site of the annual Black Forest Star Party, has been designated as the state's first official "Dark Sky Park" by the DCNR. Plans are in the works to protect and enhance the dark-sky resource in the area, including plantings along the road to block the visibility of car headlights passing through the area.

Click here to go to the “Stargaze Cherry Springs” Yahoogroup, where you will find the latest e-mail updates on happenings at CSSP.

 

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Town:  Potato City (about 10 miles east of Coudersport, PA.)

Observing site:  Old Potato City Airport

Address: 1 mile off Rt. 6 at airport sign

Zip Code: no longer has its own post office

Restrictions:  none (PA. state game reserve land), although the road is not maintained during the winter and is blocked by snow from early Dec. through late March.

Directions:  Turn south off of Rt. 6 at airport sign near Potato City Inn.  Go to first road on the left and turn left.  The abandoned airstrip and hanger are on the right side of the road about 1/2 mile further on.  Create a map using Mapquest.com.

Current weather:    Click for Coudersport, Pennsylvania Forecast
 
How are the sky conditions?  On a clear, cool, low humidity night, some of the best in the eastern U.S.

 
Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 7
     East: 6.5
     West: 6.5
     North: 6.5
     South: 6.5

Best horizon: east, west and south are nearly flat

Worst horizon: north horizon is cut off at about 25 degrees depending on how far out on the airstrip you are

Comments from contributor:  There is not a town with a population of over 3,000 within 50 miles in any direction and the nearest larger town (50,000) to the south is State College, PA. which is about 100 miles away through nothing but state and federal forest land.  Elevation at the site is about 2100' on the highest ridge in the area.   Coudersport, PA. (pop. 3,000) is about 10 miles to the west down in the river valley and has basic supplies and a few good places to eat.  The Grand Canyon Of PA., the PA. Lumber Museum,  and several state parks are nearby.

 

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Town:  Shippensburg

Observing site:  Big Flat

Address: Shippensburg Road - Michaux State Forest (10 miles East of Chambersburg, PA)

Contact: Thom Bemus

Phone:  (716) 386-7150

Restrictions:  none known

Directions:  Drive east of Chambersburg from Rt. 30.  Turn northeast on Rt. 233 at Caledonia Sate Park.  Follow Rt. 233 about 8 miles to the intersection with the Shippensburg Rd.  Turn left, climb up to the top of Big Flat ridge about 2 miles. There is a good place to observe right next to the small Appalachian Trail parking area.

Current weather:   Click for Shippensburg, Pennsylvania Forecast

How are the sky conditions? This is one of the few easy-to-access spots with a fairly dark sky still available in south-central PA.

 
Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 6
     East: 5.5
     West: 5.5
     North: 6
     South: 6

Best horizon:  South - about a 2 degree cut-off

Worst horizon: Northwest - about a 10 degree cut-off

Comments from contributor:  This is a primitive site with no restrooms, though camping and restrooms are available in nearby state parks. There is a good parking area.  This is the site where I had my first astronomy experience, watching the Perseids with my Dad at age 12. Though the skies are nothing like they were in that August night in 1969, they are still pretty good considering the rampant development of this once quite farming region near Gettysburg, PA.

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Town: State Camp

Observing site:  Dennison Overlook

Address: The entrance to the Keiper hiking trail - 1 mile south of State Camp, PA along Rt 144

Zip Code: 16845

Contact: Greg Granville

Restrictions: This is State Forest land. According to the signs in the area, a permit is required for overnight camping.

Directions: The entrance to the Keiper hiking trail - 1 mile south of State Camp, PA along Rte 144. Exact location is latitude 41:14:12 North, longitude 77:46:58 West  Create a map using Mapquest.com.  

Current weather:   Click for Pottersdale, Pennsylvania Forecast

How are the sky conditions? When humidity is low, 40% or less, it is very good.

 
Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 6.5
     East: 6.0
     West: 6.4
     North: 6.3
     South: 6.0

Best horizon: South and west cutoff virtually 0 degrees.

Worst horizon: North and East cutoff no more than 5 degrees.

Comments from contributor: This site is located at the southern end of the state forest region that also encompasses Cherry Springs and Potato City. It was also chosen based upon light pollution maps, but reasonable driving distance from State College, PA was also considered. The elevation is ~2200 ft. This is a favorite observing site for the Central Pennsylvania Observers, and the Susquehanna Valley Amateur Astronomers.  State Camp, PA is not a town or settlement of any kind as far as I can tell.  There is absolutely nothing, not even a small village, for at least 10 miles in any direction. State College is 30 miles due south, Lock Haven is about 23 miles to the east. The overlook also provides spectacular views to the south and west in the daytime.

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Town: Warren

Observing site: Heart's Content

Address: Allegheny National Forest south of Warren, PA

Contact: Thom Bemus

Phone: (716) 386-7150

URL: www.UpStateAstro.org/stars/stars.html

Restrictions:  Day-use area, no camping on-site (there is a campground a few hundred yards south of the observing site)

Directions: 15 miles south of Warren, PA. Turn off of Rt.6 onto Pleasant Road and follow it up the mountain until you come to "Y", go straight onto Heart's Content Road for about 3.5 miles, day-use area is on the left, campground just a little further on the right.  (Click on the map at right for a larger version.)

Current weather:     Click for Warren, Pennsylvania Forecast

 

How are the sky conditions?  On humid nights there is a slight brightening to the north from Warren, PA, which is mostly blocked by a dense, tall stand of pines.  Otherwise the skies are quite dark.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:
     At the zenith: 6.5
     East: 6.5
     West: 6.5
     North: 6
     South: 6.5


Best horizon:  South - about 5 degree cut-off

Worst horizon:  North - about a 20 degree cut-off

Comments from contributor:  This is a nice site, not as dark as Cherry Springs, but much closer to Erie, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and more accessible in the winter. There is no camping on site, but there is a clean pit toilet and covered picnic shelters.  There is a nice National Forest Service primitive campground just a few hundred yards away, but it is not open during the winter.

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