From the Director

by Rex Parker, PhD, Director





Tuesday June 9 (7:30 pm) at the New Jersey State Museum Planetarium will be the last regular monthly meeting of the season. You are welcome to bring family and friends for our gathering at the Planetarium, at 205 West State Street in the capitol area of Trenton. AAAP member and Planetarium staffer Bill Murray will give us a private show (no charge) using the state-of-the-art “Full DomeVideo” technology which immerses the audience within images covering the entire dome.

The meeting continues the tradition of AAAP sharing the vision of the Planetarium to bring astronomy experiences to the public. After the show, we’ll review club plans for summer observing activities at the Washington Crossing Observatory, and discuss the upcoming Cherry Springs State Park astronomy observing field trip (see below).

Officers and Committees. At the May meeting, a new Board of Trustees was elected to lead the club in the next season. I would like to congratulate and thank my colleagues on the Board: Assistant Director Larry Kane, Program Chair Ira Polans, Secretary Jim Poinsett, and Treasurer Michael Mitrano. Deep appreciation goes to former Program Chair Kate Otto for bringing in so many good speakers the last three years, and thanks to Prasad Ganti and John Miller who form the new Program Committee with Ira. Thanks also to continuing Outreach Chair Dave Letcher, and Observatory Co-chairs Gene Ramsey and Dave Skitt, along with Jennifer Skitt, John Church, and the Keyholders for improving the observatory and running our weekly public observing operations.

Upcoming Events

  • June 2: Mallincam training for Keyholders at WC Observatory
  • June 13: Members-only night at Washington Crossing Observatory (family & friends are welcome too) including unveiling the Mallincam astro-video, a new Paramount for the Hastings refractor, and two new telescopes. Please join us at the Observatory beginning after sunset to see what the excitement is all about.
  • June 19-20: Observing weekend at Cherry Springs State Park in northern PA, a remarkable dark sky site. Arrive Friday before sunset, return Sunday.

Astronomy Observing Field Trip to Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania, June 19-20.  This will be the dark sky observing event of the year! Plan for both Friday and Saturday nights, June 19 and 20. The trip is contingent on good weather and sky conditions to be decided the week of the event.  We don’t have a backup date at this time.

The park is situated at 2300 ft elevation deep in the wild forests of north-central PA.  It has some of the darkest and best skies for astronomy in the entire eastern U.S.  All interested AAAP members are invited to attend, but please understand that this will be a “roughing it” type trip.  We will happily offer telescope viewing access and share knowledge of the celestial sphere to members and family/friends,  attendees must provide their own transportation, equipment and supplies including tent, sleeping bag, food and drink.  Please read carefully the information on the Cherry Springs State Park website:

Pennsylvania State Parks
Serious Stargazing at Cherry Springs State Park

It’s about a 5 hour drive from Princeton (important – see recommended directions, below).  You must arrive well before dark to set up even if you don’t have a telescope (i.e., setting up tents etc).  White flashlights or other white lights on or near the observing field are strictly prohibited.  Red flashlights are accepted and are a necessary item.  It’s important to understand there are essentially no amenities except for 110V AC electrical plug-ins and concrete telescope pads.  You must bring all of your own supplies, tents and camping equipment, food and drinks, etc. Water for washing dishes is supplied at several pumps located around the site. There are modern bathroom facilities and sinks, but no showers at Cherry Springs State Park, and the nearest showers are at Lyman Run State Park about 10 miles down the road. Those are good private showers with hot water. There are no motels or restaurants nearby. Some have complained about the taste of the water available at the site; fracking is done in the area. The water is fine for washing but if you care about this point, it is recommended that you bring drinking water with you.

Be ready for dew at Cherry Springs. If the sky is clear there will be dew, probably more dew than you have ever seen. Everyone should have dew heaters and/or “hair dryers” for their scopes. Dew shields are useful but not enough. Bring an extension cord as well.

Directions. The directions given on the Cherry Springs Star Party website are not the best. They will take you through ~50 miles of unpaved logging roads to get to Cherry Springs State Park. It has been suggested by observers from recent years that the best way to get there is the following.

  • Take the PA Turnpike (276) to the NE Extension (476 northbound)
  • Continue on NE Extension (476) to I-80W
  • Go west on I-80W to I-180N (beltway around Williamsport, PA)
  • Take I-180N to Rte 15N
  • Follow Rte 15N to Rte 6W
  • Go west on Rte 6W to Galeton, PA
  • Get off Rte 6 at Galeton. It’s then about 15 miles of paved back roads to Cherry Springs (Mapquest or GPS will give a route).
  • There is a local-detail map on the park website.

Please respond by e-mail if you plan to make the trip ( I look forward to having you join us at Cherry Springs!  

This entry was posted in June 2015, May 2015, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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