Stargazing and Astronomy at Cherry Springs State Park
A combination of attributes makes Cherry Springs ideal for stargazing and astronomy:
The field is at the top of a 2,300-foot high mountain -- the surrounding state forest is relatively undeveloped and nearby communities are in valleys, shielding any light that might affect the park
The location of the park, 41.6501 degrees north, 77.8164 degrees west, offers a great view of the nucleus of the Milky Way Galaxy
The astronomy field offers an excellent 360 degree view of the night sky
All lighting in the park is shielded and all white light has been converted to red
Three areas of the park are available for stargazing:
Night Sky Public Viewing Area --
Best short-term stargazing for a few hours. Although white light is permitted, a red filter or cover for your flashlight is recommended to preserve your night vision.
Rustic Campground --
Suggested for overnight stargazing for casual stargazers. Not Recommended for serious stargazers. There are no lighting restrictions in the Rustic Campground, however, to aid in creating a more enjoyable experience for all visitors, it is recommended to use red filters on all light. Campfires should be kept as small as possible.
Overnight Astronomy Observation Field --
Excellent overnight viewing for serious stargazers with equipment. All lights must have red filter or need to be fully shielded. White light is prohibited.
Short-term Stargazing at Cherry Springs
If you would like to come out and enjoy the magnificent night sky at Cherry Springs and only wish to gaze for a few hours, you may do so at the Night Sky Public Viewing Area located north of Rt. 44 (opposite the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field).
Public parking lots are located here along with several information kiosks and waysides. You may follow the walkway out to the amphitheater where benches are located and you will be shielded from passing vehicle lights.
There is also a backlit summer sky map wayside located on this pathway. Press the button at the lower side of the display to activate the red light.
Cherry Springs State Park is located on top of a mountain and the weather generally tends to be on the cool side. It can also be damp. It is recommended that you wear proper clothing and foot gear.
When you visit the park, feel free to bring out your own:
Pets are prohibited on the Night Sky Public Viewing Area and the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field.
Lights and Flashlights
All lights should have red filters. It is recommended that white light not be used to aid with night adaptation of your eyes. Please remember to always direct your light downward. Any visitor using white light during a public program will be asked to extinguish the light.
Overnight Stargazing at Cherry Springs
Astronomers wishing to use the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field are required to register and pay a user fee before setting up. Users must follow all Overnight Astronomy Observation Field Permit Conditions (PDF).
Please see the park bulletin board, located on the exterior wall of the restroom, to acquire a fee payment envelope. Please follow written instructions, posted fee schedule, and list your location on the field so that you can be located in an emergency, then deposit it into the round green fee tube located next to the three-sided registration kiosk.
During your stay, all Rules and Regulations of the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field (PDF) must be obeyed. To enhance your experience and that of other visitors, follow Overnight Astronomy Observation Field Etiquette (PDF) as well.
For a one-time fee you can have access to the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field for the rest of the year rather than paying the per night set-up fee. Galaxy passes are only available through the Lyman Run State Park office after January 1. There are a limited number of passes available.
Lights and Flashlights
On the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field, all lights must have red filters or need to be fully shielded. White light is prohibited. Interior vehicle lights should be turned off or shielded with red filters.
It is in your best interest to arrive early. The speed limit on the astronomy field is 5 mph. If you arrive after dark, then you must park in the visitor parking lot across Route 44 and walk in.
Observation Field Amenities
Light Block Tarp -- When the field is in use, the gate may be closed at dusk (do NOT lock) and the light block tarp can be dropped. Please undo the end straps first, then the center strap. Tarp may have water in it, so step back when lowering.
The last person to leave the field is responsible for rolling the tarp back up and securing. Roll the tarp up from the center section first and secure.
Wi-Fi Access -- Wi-Fi access is available within the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field for patrons. Some restrictions may apply. Wi-Fi is not available in the campground, day-use, or Night Sky Viewing areas.
Electricity -- Electricity is available on the astronomy field from 120-volt ground fault protected power outlets in RV style pedestals (six per pedestal). When the field is in heavy use, outlets must be shared.
Please be courteous of your fellow stargazers. Electrical pedestals are for the charging of telescope batteries and small appliance or laptop use. Camper hook-up is prohibited.
Concrete Telescope Pads -- Pads, ranging in size from 4 feet to 6 feet, are located randomly across the field. Some astronomers prefer the pads while others like to set up directly on the grass.