Cherry Springs State Park- A Portal to the Universe

 

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Waiting for the show to start, the horizon at Cherry Springs State Park.

 

Cherry Springs State Park has emerged as one of the PA Wilds premier destinations, for reasons that aren’t even on the ground.  Cherry Springs has some of the darkest skies in the East and is famous with astronomers and star gazers.

It was the second International Dark Sky Park, and under ideal conditions, the Milky Way can even cast a slight shadow.  Over 10,000 stars can be seen with the naked eye.

The park has a campground, open fields for watching the stars, hiking trails, and even impressive architecture from the CCC era.  It is located at an elevation of about 2,400 feet and is close to the Susquehannock State Forest, Susquehannock Trail, and several other state parks.  A network of hiking and mountain biking trails surround the park.

We were fortunate enough to be in the area on a clear night during the Perseid meteor shower.  I was surprised by all the people who were there, from many different states, speaking a variety of languages, sitting close to each other looking up at the heavens.  It seems the dark, and stars, can bring people together.

As the sun melted over the horizon and the last light of the day drained from the sky, the stars began to make their appearance.  The sheer number of stars were amazing-layers after layers of stars as the cloudy band of the Milky Way stretched across the entire sky.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many stars.

Soon the meteors arrived, shooting across the sky.  Some were quick blasts, others stretched across the constellations.  Satellites also appeared, moving more slowly below the stars.  Planets in our solar system tried to hide among the countless stars in the galaxy.  Cherry Springs makes you realize just how vast this universe is.

Some tips about visiting Cherry Springs:

  1. It gets cool up there, so dress a little warm.
  2. Bring something comfortable to lay on and a pillow, it’s the best way to see the night sky.  Don’t want to lay down? Bring a chair where you can comfortably lean back.
  3. Limit the use of light, and only use a red light.
  4. Be prepared to be amazed.

A clear night at Cherry Springs State Park is an experience you won’t soon forget.

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