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Cherry Spirngs Star Party 2014

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#1 George N

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 10:41 AM


Link: CSSP web page

Just 3 months away..... and I'm registered.

Who's going?

#2 Bob Moore

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 06:48 PM

ME!!!

#3 Brett Carlson

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:35 PM

I think I'm in for this one! I have the time off. Just hope the weather is better this year than last!

#4 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 10:26 PM

I should be there barring any more problems with my shoulder.

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#5 RobTeeter

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:20 PM

Dave,
Going to be dusting off the 15"? :D

#6 George N

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 11:11 AM

I think I'm in for this one! I have the time off. Just hope the weather is better this year than last!


I was 'on the field' for 5 nights last year. Great first night (Wed), the three in the middle were mostly heavy rain (but a few hours of sick skies on Thur), good last night. On that last night I 'fried' my dew heater just as it was getting dark, but survived the night by rubber-banding hand warmers onto the side of my secondary holder. It worked - good thing, 'cuz that was a really dewy night. I now have a life-time supply of fuses for the dew-heater.

#7 star drop

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 09:26 AM

Do the cherries have springs inside them?

#8 George N

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 12:54 PM

Do the cherries have springs inside them?


....not since the Gypsy Moth caterpillars ate 'um all.... :shocked:

#9 Seanem44

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 02:05 PM

I am very tempted to check this out.

The price is very favorable. I will definitely be going to Spruce knob for AHSP, but Cherry Springs isn't much farther.

Is CS considered a true dark zone or is it Blue? I have seen conflicting data.

#10 George N

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 04:41 PM

I am very tempted to check this out.

The price is very favorable. I will definitely be going to Spruce knob for AHSP, but Cherry Springs isn't much farther.

Is CS considered a true dark zone or is it Blue? I have seen conflicting data.


I guess you’ll have to check out Cherry Springs for yourself, but….. I’ve gotten SQM readings of 21.65, and others have gotten darker. Some folks have concluded that recent gas drilling has resulted in somewhat brighter skies at Cherry Springs. They have agreed to not flair during the star parties.

Personally, I think that the amount of humidity impacts sky brightness at CS, so actual conditions can be variable. On misty nights vehicle lights can create short-lived glows as they climb the hill that the park is on top of. Cherry Springs is an IDA Gold level Dark Sky Park, but that designation may be under review.

I’ve never been to Spruce Knob, but friends who have been to both locations are of differing opinions on the relative darkness. The observing field at CS is better and larger – specifically set up for astronomy, with good 360 degree horizon.

I have rented a “camp” in the central Adirondacks for 35 years, and conditions there are pretty similar to CS.

One good friend, the owner of a premium Dob company, was at CSSP 2013 and later attended the TSP – to sell his scopes as a vendor. He was of the opinion that the sky at CS is just as dark as at the TSP, and at least last year, the seeing was far better at Cherry Springs (late-night seeing can become excellent at CS). Others of course have different opinions.

Other considerations: the organizers of the Cherry Springs Star Party do a great job. It is well run. There have always been good speakers, and raffle prizes. There is a good selection of on-site vendors. The observing field is level and grass covered, with AC power, water, and some concrete observing pads. Taking a shower required driving about 20 minutes to another state park, and hotels and restaurants are a similar drive. Most folks just leave their equipment on the field when going out during the day. The food vendors have been OK, but pretty basic ‘fast food’, and each year it is a *BLEEP* shoot as to if there will be one. PA state parks do not allow booze. The observing field is open to walk-on ‘public’ on Saturday night for a few hours, but I’ve never had a problem with them. The number of public (who park across the road) has been maybe a 100 people. On the down side, the CSSP has had more than its fair share of bad weather and in June the length of nighttime darkness is the shortest of the year. Last year I arrived on Wed and the field was already half filled. I stayed thru Sunday night, and had 3 cloudy/rain nights, and two clear nights.

#11 Seanem44

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 11:22 AM

George... Thanks for your assessment.

I am thinking this June I might head to Spruce Knob during the new moon if the weather looks good. I can fathom driving 4 hours for a night a disappointment if the worse happens a lot easier than 6-7 hours. The other factor is that I am already taking off work for AHSP. I would not be able to for CS giving me only two nights.

#12 Alvan Clark

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 01:52 PM

One good friend, the owner of a premium Dob company, was at CSSP 2013 and later attended the TSP – to sell his scopes as a vendor. He was of the opinion that the sky at CS is just as dark as at the TSP,


I've been to both and feel Texas is darker. I agree with you that CS has a lot of variability. It's quite good when it's good. For an east coaster though I think Cherry Springs is a great site for astronomy.

#13 djpontone

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 03:23 PM

These is no comparison between texas and cherry springs.Texas is awesome!Going to T.S.P.this year .

#14 dtripz

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 07:48 PM

I've spent a lot of time at cherry springs, and visually spruce knob is a fair bit darker, but weather is very difficult to predict at spruce. If you plan on going there, stay at the mountain institute, they get lots of astro folks visiting. As much space to set up camp as in cherry springs, however without power. Showers and warm meals are available, plus the daytime scenery is gorgeous.

#15 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 02:07 AM

TSP and Spruce Knob are both darker than CSSP. I've observed from all three locations and have been going to CSSP since the late 1990s. The summit of Spruce Knob is twice as tall as CSSP but has limited space and facilities.

http://cleardarksky....l?Mn=meteorites CSSP

http://cleardarksky....Mn=apochromatic Spruce Knob

http://cleardarksky....ml?Mn=astronomy Prude Ranch

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#16 peleuba

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 02:25 PM

TSP and Spruce Knob are both darker than CSSP.



I would absolutely agree... Spruce Knob is darker then Cherry Springs; I've not been to the TSP. But, Cherry Springs has an awesome, flat observing field with very good horizons. I've been observing there since 1997 and there is not a better place as close with as many ammenities that cater to the amateur astronomer.

I will be there for the entire week leading up to the starparty staying through Sunday if the weather is good.

#17 George N

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 11:26 AM

These is no comparison between texas and cherry springs.Texas is awesome!Going to T.S.P.this year .


I guess it's going to be a race to see which area is impacted the fastest by gas drilling: LP threats to west Texas astronomy (and also see the discussion in the LP forum)

#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 05:03 PM

Unfortunately, George, I believe that is exactly the case.

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#19 Peter D.

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:55 AM

Personally, I think that the amount of humidity impacts sky brightness at CS, so actual conditions can be variable. On misty nights vehicle lights can create short-lived glows as they climb the hill that the park is on top of. Cherry Springs is an IDA Gold level Dark Sky Park, but that designation may be under review.


I've never been to Spruce Knob or TSP (but I've always wanted to try both). I was at Granite Gap in SW New Mexico last month and I go to Cherry Springs (and other sites in that vicinity) several times a year. I've also experienced Green Bank, WV (not far from Spruce Knob), the Outer Banks of NC, the Florida Keys, most of Utah and Wyoming, and many areas of the Adirondacks including Twin Ponds, Indian Lake, and Wakely Dam (where do you camp up there, George?).

Granite Gap is the most consistently dark place I've ever observed (that wasn't on top of a mountain like Kitt Peak). Cherry Springs, the Adirondacks and Green Bank can be nearly as dark, but they're EXTREMELY weather-dependent: the slightest haze or humidity (not to mention clouds) will immediately hurt the transparency: skies comparable to Granite Gap occur less than 10% of nights when the moon is not in the sky. Granite Gap was a perfect Bortle 1 20% of the time, Bortle 3 or better 50% of the time, and Bortle 5 or better 80% of the time (TSP is probably very similar to Granite Gap), and most nights you could see the Milky Way right down to the horizon (obstructed only by mountains many miles away).

So you take your chances; other than the variable weather, Cherry Springs is a really nice field. The lack of showers there is the only serious negative, and there are public shower facilities only a few miles away. I'll be there for sure; it's easily my favorite star party.

#20 star drop

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 04:22 PM

Just a bit more than a month to go. :jump:

#21 tag1260

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 04:33 PM

I don't quite understand the build of this place without showers. The bathroom facility is new and really nice but why no showers? Is there a reason I'm not seeing?

#22 star drop

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 04:47 PM

They sometimes run out of water as it is and have to truck it in.

#23 Deep13

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 05:22 PM

I believe one of the nearby parks may have shower facilities. Anyway, it wasn't long ago that they had no electricity, mobile phone service, or running water.

#24 George N

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 10:14 AM

I believe one of the nearby parks may have shower facilities. Anyway, it wasn't long ago that they had no electricity, mobile phone service, or running water.


Cherry Springs State Park is something of a satellite of Lyman Run State Park. The ranger staff and offices for both are at Lyman Run.

There was a development plan to include showers, but there's just not enough water on top of a mountain. You can get into Lyman Run for free if you paid at CS, but you do need to pay for the shower (quarters). The total trip time, including shower, has taken me a little over an hour. Also, if you want, you can go swimming, rent a canoe, etc, at Lyman Run.

As others have pointed out, for years this little-used park had nothing but a pit toilet, no water, "sometimes" AC power supplied by a private club, and little in the way of observing field maintenance. I'm totally amazed that the state has put so much money into a state park aimed almost entirely at dark sky observing, with special facilities and rules for amateur astronomers.

#25 peleuba

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 01:23 PM

I'm totally amazed that the state has put so much money into a state park aimed almost entirely at dark sky observing, with special facilities and rules for amateur astronomers.


You are exactly right - I am amazed too, and grateful. As a PA resident and longtime observer at Cherry Springs, I think much of the credit has to go to Chip Harrison and some of the the early adopters of Cherry Springs - Dave Mitsky, Gary Honis, Tony Donnangelo, Thom Bemus et al. If it were not for these folks being vocal in the late 1990's Cherry Springs would not be what it is today. Now, especially the last 10 years a symbiotic relationship has been cultivated and taken hold between the astronomers and some of the local businesses.

Looking forward to a nice 2014 Cherry Springs Star Party.






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