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Wish Upon a Star - Astronomy & Stargazing in Pennsylvania

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Several state parks in north central Pennsylvania are recognized as some of the darkest spots in the United States. In particular, Cherry Springs State Park, in Potter County, is the first official dark sky park in the Commonwealth. This park has become a mecca for amateur astrologists from all over the Northeastern United States and Canada. Based on satellite images, the park offers the darkest skies in the state and has a 360-degree view of the sky with no light pollution.

Stargazing Tips
Whether you view the night sky with telescope, binoculars or the naked eye, here are a few tips to enhance your stargazing experience:

  • It takes a minimum of 15 minutes outside in the dark for your eyes to adapt to the lack of light.
  • Be careful not to look at any bright lights. Cover your flashlight with red cellophane or use a red lens. Red light will not lessen your night vision.
  • The best viewing occurs during the dark of the moon lunar phase that produces the darkest skies.
  • Binoculars at 7 x 50 power are the most popular size for stargazing.
  • Star maps and charts will help you learn the position of constellations at different times of the year, and the positions of major stars and constellations, many of which can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Astronomy Web sites also give up to date information on when the space station and other satellites pass overhead, the time and direction of iridium flares, solar flares, aurora bulletins, and the occurrence of comets and meteor showers.

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