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
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.
Although white light is permitted, a red filter or cover for your flashlight is recommended to preserve your night vision. Please remember to always direct your light downward.
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.
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. 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.
Arriving After Dark
It is in your best interest to arrive early. If you arrive after dark then you must park in the visitor parking lot across Route 44 and walk in.
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.
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.
Closing the Gate
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.
Food, Wildlife, and Trash
Food on a picnic table or in a tent will attract pests. Store food in a vehicle to prevent damage to your equipment. Please wash dishes in a dish pan, then dispose of the water. No dishwashing is permitted in the restrooms or at the hydrants.
Food scraps invite scavengers, such as black bears, raccoons, opossums, and skunks. Cherry Springs has a carry-in, carry-out trash policy.
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.
Emergency information and phone numbers are posted at the registration kiosk. Potter County is a part of the 911 Emergency Service System. A free, local-use phone is located at the camper check-in station.
Cherry Springs is very remote and most cell phones do not have network coverage. Currently, available providers are Verizon and T-mobile.
Lights and Flashlights
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.
Night Sky Public Viewing Area
All lights should have red filters – red cellophane and rubber bands are available at the information kiosk adjacent the unpaved walkway to the amphitheater. It is recommended that white light not be used to aid with night adaptation of your eyes. Any visitor using white light during public programming will be asked to extinguish the light.
There are no lighting restrictions on the Rustic Campground, however, to aid in creating a more enjoyable experience for all visitors, it is recommended to use red filters on all lights. Campfires should be kept as small as possible and interior vehicle or camper lights should be turned off or shielded with red filters.
Green Lasers Prohibited
Green laser pointers are prohibited in the park at all times and for all reasons.
Open fires are prohibited. Grills are located in the picnic area at the pavilion. Traditional campsites with fire rings are located in the park campground across the road.
Driving on the Field
The speed limit on the astronomy field is 5 mph.
Pets are prohibited on the Night Sky Public Viewing Area, the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field, and in the Rustic Campground.
No Alcoholic Beverages
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in Pennsylvania state parks.
Rules and Regulations
All state park regulations apply.
Dark Sky Fund/Association
The Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund/Association is a “Friends” group under the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. Their mission is the protection of the dark night sky at Cherry Springs State Park and enhancing the astronomy experience through facility improvement and educational outreach programs.
Dark Sky Fund donations will be used to enhance the stargazing and astronomy experience at Cherry Springs State Park. Physical improvements to the park will help to eliminate any outside light pollution and remove overhead obstructions. Donations will also be used to educate local residents and visitors about the value of the night sky resource and why it needs to be preserved.
Fund donations have been used to:
Plant light screening trees and shrubs
Convert all park lighting to shielded, red-light fixtures
Bury overhead electrical lines
Install electrical pedestals on the astronomy field
The fund also has provided educational materials about astronomy and environmentally friendly lighting in the park and surrounding communities.
Decisions about how the fund monies are spent are a collaborative effort of the park management and the Dark Sky Fund Advisory Council. The council is made up of astronomers from all over the country who regularly observe at Cherry Springs.
How to Donate
Donation forms and envelopes for the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund are available at the astronomy information bulletin board, located adjacent to the restroom on the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field and donations may be inserted into the Dark Sky Fund’s donation tube -- a square, blue fee tube located next to the astronomy information bulletin board. Please do not combine park fees and donation fees. Use the separate forms and envelopes. Thanks for your support!