Cherry Springs State Park Milky Way Photography
Understanding when the best time to go is before taking your trip is imperative if you want to see the Milky Way. June and July are the optimum times to go. The dark-sky field at Cherry Springs is open all year. There are about 60 to 85 nights a year that are ideal for doing milky way photography. You can see our gallery below. The basic principle of doing Milky Way sky photography is to go when the moon is not visible. The week before the new moon, with clear skies, is an ideal time to go. You can shoot about a week before the new moon since the moon does not rise until very late, or should we say early a.m. Check out the moonrise times and see our dark sky resources page for the new moon chart. Remember, pick the correct month for optimum milky way visibility. After October, the milky way goes below the horizon and returns around February or March.
Cherry Springs State Park is an 82-acre Pennsylvania state park in Potter County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The park was created from land within the Susquehannock State Forest and is on Pennsylvania Route 44 in West Branch Township. Cherry Springs, named for a large stand of Black Cherry trees in the park, is atop the dissected Allegheny Plateau at an elevation of 2,300 feet (701 m). It is popular with astronomers and stargazers for having “some of the darkest night skies on the east coast” of the United States and was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of the “Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.”
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania Dark Skies
Astronomers and stargazers appreciate Cherry Springs State Park for the darkness and clarity of its skies, which make it “perhaps the last best refuge of the natural night sky” in the eastern half of the United States. The sky at Cherry Springs has been classified as a 2 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, meaning it has almost no light pollution. With optimum conditions, 10,000 stars are visible with the naked eye at the park, clouds appear only as black holes in the starry sky, and the Milky Way is so bright that it casts a discernible shadow.
Two of the park’s three astronomy domes, the walls prevent the wind from moving telescopes during observation. Nighttime visitors may only use flashlights with red filters, and may only point them at the ground. The Astronomy Field has further restrictions on lights, and parts of the park are light-free zones. The DCNR spent $396,000 in June 2007 to buy mineral rights under 1,980 acres (800 ha) of the park and state forest to prevent natural gas drilling and associated development there.
When To Go Milky Way Hunting
When should you go milky-way hunting?
In mid-February, the core of the milky way becomes visible in the pre-dawn hours before sunrise. It is only visible for a short time. It will be above the horizon during the day when you can’t see it. Of course, not the time to go hunting. The core becomes visible for a longer time frame each night. It peaks in June & July when the center will be viewable all night. In June, we see the milky way shortly after sunset, and the skies go black. The best time is around midnight in the mid-summer. After this, the cycle goes in the opposite direction. Milky way visibility begins to decrease and go in the opposite direction, becoming more and more visible after dusk. It will then disappear again in the winter months. Around the beginning of November, it is no longer viewable.