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Stargazing Tips

Interested in observing the dark night skies? The following information will help you make the most of your first visit to Cherry Springs State Park.

Short-Term Stargazing

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 Viewing area located north of Rt. 44 (opposite the gated Astronomy Observation Field).

Public parking lots are located here along with several information kiosks and waysides.

Follow the walkway out to the public program area where benches are located and you will be shielded from passing vehicle lights.

A backlit, seasonal sky map is 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. Always direct your light downward.

Cherry Springs State Park is located on top of a mountain and the weather tends to be cool and damp. Dress accordinaly and feel free to bring blankets, lawn chairs, binoculars, and telescopes when you visit the park.

Explore the Calendar of Events for astronomy programs being presented at the park.

Pets are prohibited on the Astronomy Observation Field while astronomers are present.

Getting Started Stargazing

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 of 7 x 50 power are the most popular size for stargazing, but the more-standard 7 x 35 will work fine to get started.
  • Meteor showers are an excellent time to view the night sky, adding the excitement of ‘falling stars.' The park offers public programming each August during the Perseids Meteor Shower.
  • Explore the Calendar of Events for scheduled programs.
  • Star hopping is a common method to learn to navigate the night sky and begin to identify constellations.
  • Visible constellations in the evening sky change with the seasons. These guides show some common, easy-to-find constellations for each season.

Long-term and Overnight Stargazing

For information on stargazing overnight on the Astronomy Field, explore serious stargazing.

Online References

Astronomy websites 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.