by Theodore R Frimet
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Recently, a member forwarded a link to an online article detailing New York States Stargazing Permit programs. Clearly for 2020, the Empire State has gone above and beyond. The permit for the hermit, in all of us, has both its pros and cons.
Here is a link to the Official Website of New York State:
Keying in “2020 Dashboard Permit Guide” into their Search feature leads us to the first hit. This describes, among other fishing and windsurfing permits, the Stargazing Permit. A PDF describing more detail can be found below, last accessed on February 2, 2020, Sunday, 9:46 AM EST.
Click to access 2020DashboardPermitGuide.pdf
I have been known to pine away the evenings in my own Pennsylvanian back yard. I always think about seeking the darkness of our local County Park system. I am shooed away by researching the inevitable. That the park closes after sunset. Sigh.
Imagine my surprise to learn that New York has upended the apple cart! They have facilitated lawful, licensed access for after sunset parking. They have done so for not less than six locations. One such notable restive makes me shudder with memories of my childhood. Having spent a few summer days at Montauk Point, I do miss NYS. Yet having spent that luxury of time digging for piss-clams in the sand, I am wanting to know more of just where the Upper Parking Lot domain lay?
Simmons (1) writes, “Along comes a park ranger demanding to see your Stargazing Permit, and issues you a citation because you didn’t know you needed such a permit.” Ah, the yesteryear of my youth. Baiting flatfish out of the inner harbor of Staten Island. The rustling of rats after dark. Time to go home, now. All the while, knowing that if ye venture to the shoreline a permit is a requirement. And that knowledge, my friends, was the venue and tale of a 8 year old. Certainly an adult New Yorker would know the difference between lawful access at night, and scurrilously venturing into the park, after dark.
We amateurs seek the shelter of dark skies. I am filled with fond memory when Scouts from New York trekked to Washington Crossing Park, NJ. They chose not their local Wolfs Pond Park of Staten Island. That evening they happened across two AAAP members cruising the soccer fields’ open horizon and starlight. Forgive my memory as I vie to recall if Jupiter was out, in the company of the last sighting of Saturns Rings?
I cannot speak for the Scouts or any New Yorker for that matter. Our price of admission for the AAAP keyholder is your membership, and ongoing dedication to advancing Amateur Astronomy. Coupled with the membership at UACNJ, we sport even more dark skies than Titusville can deliver. Both memberships come at a cost. It isn’t hefty, and is reasonable beyond all comparison. The value is great, and the camaraderie of our mutual affiliations are gilded with gold.
New Yorkers now pay for regimented night time access. They may flee no more to the haven that is the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton. This is presumptuous at best.
The park system that includes Jenny Jump State Forest, and the observatory at Washington Crossing Park, is manned by amateurs and professionals alike. We are open during the clear dark nights as proscribed by our respective websites. That, my dear reader, is truly what is valued.
Come press your eye against the eyepiece. Talk, discuss, and be happy to be among those that wish to learn the night sky. With the help of those that care, we continue to host a guided view to the Universe. No permit required.
(1) The Gateway Pundit. (2020). Can’t Make This Up… New York State Is Now Mandating “Stargazing Permits” For Looking At The Sky. [online] Available at: https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/01/cant-make-this-up-new-york-state-is-now-mandating-stargazing-permits-for-looking-at-the-sky/ [Accessed 2 Feb. 2020].