Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Is Cherry Springs Becoming a "Family Campground"?

  • Please log in to reply
177 replies to this topic

#1 AstroBruce

AstroBruce

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 249
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2012

Posted 25 June 2022 - 07:25 PM

   I am seeing many more people "family camping" on the Overnight Observing Field lately. They don't seem to have any interest in astronomy. They know nothing about nighttime lighting etiquette. At times the field is turned into a playground and ball field. Some mornings, there are loud soccer games going on. Possibly, the Family Campgrounds in the area are filled up and/or the $15 a night fee is too hard to pass up. This has become a sad reality for many avid astronomers, myself included. There ARE regulations regarding the use of the Overnight Observing Field. Obviously, they are not being enforced. Are you listening? Rangers

 

Bruce


  • StevenBellavia likes this

#2 firemachine69

firemachine69

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,381
  • Joined: 19 May 2021

Posted 25 June 2022 - 10:45 PM

We have had quite a few "older" new campers in my wife's campground, but they don't seem to have kids. We haven't been shy to tell them curfew is 11pm, this is a kid friendly campground, and all our kids are sleeping by then.. Ya know, in accordance with the agreement they signed for a highly sought spot?

 

We had one have the audacity tell us where to go... Owner kicked them out the next day. Oof. All the other "overgrown problem children" quickly fell in line! 


  • mogur likes this

#3 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 26 June 2022 - 10:05 AM

Call Lyman Run and complain. Hopefully they will send someone over - at times even calling the State Police. One thing is for certain - complaining here is not going to accomplish anything.

 

In the past I have been set up next a "family group" of maybe 15 adults and kids - ladies set up a big picnic for them all. Two of the men were 'astro newbies' - taking 'Milky Way' shots with DSLR on tripod and struggling with a little 130mm Newt - fresh from the box. They were respectful of light discipline, and I invited them over to look thru my Obsession 20 Dob, and helped them get their little telescope working. Hopefully a few of the kids caught the bug. Cherry Springs *is* a State Park - and one of its missions is bringing the stars - and an understanding of light pollution - to the State's residents - who 'own' the Park.

 

A friend just posted on FB a photo of his imaging rig on the field this morning (6/26/2022) - it showed a modest smattering of others on the field right now - no complaints or issues were noted. The lucky devils have had two clear nights, and after rain tonight - at least another 3 clear moonless nights - short summer nights - but, better than snow or rain.

 

They were supposed to be hiring a 'summertime ranger' for CSSP this year, to be on site at least early evening and weekends - but I'm not sure how that goes.


Edited by George N, 26 June 2022 - 10:19 AM.

  • MikeMiller, Augustus and zakry3323 like this

#4 Starman47

Starman47

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,622
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2018
  • Loc: Bortle 5 and getting more light polluted each day

Posted 26 June 2022 - 11:34 AM

The purpose of the CN forums is the free discussion of the topics at hand. So a little venting on the topic of CSSP seems appropriate. Then call a ranger if there is one to call.

 

just my two cents, which today ain’t worth much.


  • Jon Isaacs, xiando, Augustus and 3 others like this

#5 gwfbmd

gwfbmd

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 148
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2018
  • Loc: DC

Posted 27 June 2022 - 08:50 AM

Hello,

 

This has indeed become a problem at Cherry Springs.  We were talking about it last month when I was down at Calhoun in West Virginia.  Some serious observers were there and we agreed we are leaning toward Calhoun or other locations now because of the issues at Cherry.  I have not been to Cherry Springs for five or six years, but that is mostly due to travel time.  Other observers who had been there lately had stronger feelings and were quite definite as to the causes, but it is not for me to get into here.

 

Glen


  • Bill Weir and StevenBellavia like this

#6 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 843
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Huntingdon Valley, PA

Posted 27 June 2022 - 12:14 PM

Late afternoon on Saturday, June 25th on a sparsely occupied field, three separate larger groups of connected people arrived.  I learned that one group came from DC.  I have a new rig that was deployed for the first time at a dark site and it "intrigued" several of them.  When asked what they were viewing with, they admitted they had no instruments and were there to see the Milky Way.  I had moved earlier to the East to be alone with my adjustments and lined up with Cygnus Blvd.  The DC denizens  gradually pitched tents right up next to me.  Clearly they had no experience with tents either.  Unfortunately my site was in their path to the main restrooms.

 

Another group set up on Galaxy Blvd, first unfolded long tables of food, pitched tents, pitched frisbee's and played soccer - at the same time.  From this group a self-described You Tube blogger asked to interview me.  He wanted to pose me with my mount in the background but not so he had to shoot in the setting sun or suffer glare.  He handed me a wireless microphone as some companions, wearing headsets, tested it while circling my mount. "Can you make it go around?"  They were all deferentially polite in a broken manner of speaking.

 

A third large group took over the pavilion, grilling festively and filling the place with smoke, flame and lot's of towel waving.  Altogether, there were many vehicles - with doors, horns, and inevitably, illumination.

 

All of this activity was under the gaze of slowly patrolling rangers.  There was one small camera tripod in evidence the next morning.

 

Ken


Edited by kennyrichmond, 27 June 2022 - 12:20 PM.

  • Skywatchr, Augustus and gwfbmd like this

#7 gwfbmd

gwfbmd

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 148
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2018
  • Loc: DC

Posted 27 June 2022 - 04:06 PM

Hello,

 

It was my understanding that at least some of the issue at Cherry Springs relates to the retirement a while back of a long time administrator whose shoes have not been filled.

 

At Calhoun over the holiday a month ago, attendance was getting pretty good, with some inexperienced observers arriving around midnight because after all, that's when the Tau Herculids were predicted to take off.  They just waited and drove down in the middle of the night!  It was not a big deal, but I could see the beginnings of trouble as the site becomes more popular.  Calhoun has two main observing areas which are far enough apart that they are totally separate from each other.  I believe it will become such that the rear field will be for serious observers and will be more restricted, while the front field will be more casual.  I don't think Cherry has an option to fix things this way, so they may have to be more strict.

 

There are a lot of people who come out just to see the Milky Way.  That is a great thing, too, but the reality is that even under a dark sky many of them wouldn't manage to see it unless someone experienced is there to show them.  They are expecting much more than what they will find.  I had to break out a laser, which I hate to do, to show some people the last time I was out observing.  They just could not see it, even under one of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi.

 

I try not to get snobby in discussions like these, but the fact is that the general public could ruin most anything.  Run.  Hide.  Fast.

 

Glen


  • wrvond likes this

#8 Chucky

Chucky

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,921
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2010

Posted 27 June 2022 - 04:09 PM

Hopefully the new southern isolated section at Calhoun WV will continue to be totally devoid of non astronomers and the general milling around public. It should be especially with a gate which can be closed at dusk.


Edited by Chucky, 27 June 2022 - 04:10 PM.

  • wrvond likes this

#9 Tom Masterson

Tom Masterson

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 621
  • Joined: 08 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Where ever we park the RV

Posted 28 June 2022 - 07:52 PM

Interesting story, and it makes me wonder if a lot of it isn't due to articles on the internet and RV/Camping forums I've been seeing lately. Articles like: "The 10 best places to see the Milky Way" or "The 8 best Dark Sky Parks for stargazing." In a sense it's astro-tourism. I actually responded to one of the articles on an RV website because there was no mention of red lights, dark adaptation or any suggestions on how best to enjoy the sky. Just a sorta - go here and get wowed. I offered some friendly advice to help people understand what red lights were about, and the concept of dark adaptation. These articles are written by people with no real experience so it's no surprise readers show up without a clue.

 

As I've said on the light pollution forum, a large number of the population lives in urban areas so they have no real historical relationship with a dark sky. To them going to these places is like going to the aquarium or zoo, a fun place to take the kids for the day - or night in this case. Because they've very rarely seen the stars, looking up in a dark sky while using a bunch of white lights is still cool. I've been in campgrounds that were very dark, and campers had bright lights on, and used very bright LED flashlights when they walked, but I still heard them exclaim: "Look at all those stars!" I even walked over to a retired couple who were trying to navigate with a star wheel using a bright white light. I suggested a dim red one would be better. The said: "Ohhh, ok." and went back to using the bright light. People don't just don't know.

 

While not always possible, staying away from these places in peak tourist times, or weekends will result in a better experience to the amateur. 


  • Jon Isaacs, George N, spaceoddity and 2 others like this

#10 John O'Hara

John O'Hara

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,102
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Oil City, PA

Posted 28 June 2022 - 08:02 PM

I wish that those who simply come to view the Milky Way would use the public area across PA 44 from the Astronomy Observation Field.  


  • Joe Bergeron, Deep13, FXM and 6 others like this

#11 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 29 June 2022 - 07:47 AM

Interesting story, and it makes me wonder if a lot of it isn't due to articles on the internet and RV/Camping forums I've been seeing lately. Articles like: "The 10 best places to see the Milky Way" or "The 8 best Dark Sky Parks for stargazing." In a sense it's astro-tourism. I actually responded to one of the articles on an RV website because there was no mention of red lights, dark adaptation or any suggestions on how best to enjoy the sky. Just a sorta - go here and get wowed. I offered some friendly advice to help people understand what red lights were about, and the concept of dark adaptation. These articles are written by people with no real experience so it's no surprise readers show up without a clue.

 

As I've said on the light pollution forum, a large number of the population lives in urban areas so they have no real historical relationship with a dark sky. To them going to these places is like going to the aquarium or zoo, a fun place to take the kids for the day - or night in this case. Because they've very rarely seen the stars, looking up in a dark sky while using a bunch of white lights is still cool. I've been in campgrounds that were very dark, and campers had bright lights on, and used very bright LED flashlights when they walked, but I still heard them exclaim: "Look at all those stars!" I even walked over to a retired couple who were trying to navigate with a star wheel using a bright white light. I suggested a dim red one would be better. The said: "Ohhh, ok." and went back to using the bright light. People don't just don't know.

 

While not always possible, staying away from these places in peak tourist times, or weekends will result in a better experience to the amateur. 

In the case of Cherry Springs - both the Park staff and local groups have actively promoted the place to the public as 'the Milky Way place'. The local towns (especially Galeton - which also installed shielded street lights) have a local gov funded ad campaign - including slick U-tube vids, etc. There is a program for local businesses to become official park info sites (I forget the actual title) - but that gets them an official sign outside that says they have authorized info on dark skies at the Park, and they have hand-outs and displays too. To get the designation a management rep from the business has to attend a day or two of training - which includes light control, the different areas and rules, etc.

 

Without local support - and political support - this state park would be 'history'. On the other hand - the PA State Parks are actively looking into 'extending' the "Cherry Springs model" to other Parks in the system - ie, attract more attendees by adding 'astronomy' as a major activity.


Edited by George N, 29 June 2022 - 08:12 AM.

  • Skywatchr likes this

#12 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 29 June 2022 - 08:10 AM

I wish that those who simply come to view the Milky Way would use the public area across PA 44 from the Astronomy Observation Field.  

Wish I was at my other PC with the recent photos I took at the entrance to the Astronomy Field -- but it is VERY hard to miss the big signs (new bigger ones added recently - any bigger and they would be full billboards!) - that say exactly what the rules are - including the 'rule' that the Astro Field is for 'serious' overnight observers with 'astronomy equipment' - while the Public Viewing Area (free!!!) is for causal observing and non-overnight telescope use. At least some 'news paper', etc, articles I've read make that point - including the weather channels' promo vids on the Park.

 

Some of this discussion really relates to 'issues' from 2020, maybe 2021 - height of the 'covid lock-down' - when nearly all PA Parks were filled by mid-morning even weekdays, forcing closing of gates. << During my weeks of living in the Adirondacks - I was amazed by the floods of 'newbies' filling normally empty roads, trails, etc at the same time - in 50 years I'd never seen anything close to those numbers!>>. I've only been to CSSP for the recent star party this year - but others I know have not seen massive problems this year. Part of the 'issue' at CSSP - staying on 'the field' is actually less expensive - AND - you get a flush toilet and water and AC - not available in the more expensive camping area! Other groups - like motorcycle clubs - have 'discovered' the flush toilets on the Astro Field (and the food vendor at the star parties) - making the remote park a prime stop-off site.

 

There is a plan - going into effect right now - to address this, and other issues:

 

1. One part includes significant moves of the entrances to both halves of the Park all the way to the Eastern edge of the property - making it clearer to new visitors where to go (and to avoid night-time headlight issues). This a big construction project - machines, dust, etc - and the Manager has sent a letter to all Galaxy Pass holders to please accept the 'disruption' the construction is causing this summer - needed to get to the benefits.

 

2. The Park was (is??) authorized to hire a part-time Ranger whose sole job is to be at CSSP to address these 'issues' - whenever the Park has large attendance - and perhaps all night on weekends. In 2021 - the guy who was to take the job quit too late in the season to be replaced - he got covid in the middle of the required ranger training.

 

3. It should be noted that - the 'free' area on the North side of the park offers just as good - perhaps even better - observing. If I wanted to set up a C-8 for a few hours - that's were I'd be. It just does not have the amenities (AC, flush toilet, etc) or 'light rules' (but the Park does encourage using red lights except for driving in/out in the North Public Observing Area).


Edited by George N, 29 June 2022 - 08:15 AM.

  • Deep13, Skywatchr and John O'Hara like this

#13 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 30 June 2022 - 09:54 AM

One 'tube vid promoting the Park - hopefully with some good info for newbies: https://www.youtube....h?v=qVtSrKK9pw4

 

This vid (don't know the guy) shows the current entrance set up - soon to be a thing of the past - with new entrances well to the West: https://www.youtube....mil9X_RBGI&t=5s



#14 reddog1972

reddog1972

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 528
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2016
  • Loc: Northern NJ

Posted 30 June 2022 - 03:24 PM

FYI - the latest information on moving the entrance/exit on the Astronomical Observing field indicates this won't be completed until 2024.  This would accompany closing off the existing entrance and having some form of light barriers to further protect from stray light coming from Rt. 44.


  • George N and Skywatchr like this

#15 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 30 June 2022 - 10:09 PM

Latest from my friend who is on the Park's volunteer advisory board -- they will be moving the Woodsman Show to the North side - meaning no blocked off weekend on the Astronomy Field - not sure if this applies to this year.

 

Wish I was at the park right now - 4 friends are there having a great time - one e-mailed me a cell-phone shot of his Obsession 18 set up late in the afternoon.


  • Deep13 and t1duplex like this

#16 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 02 July 2022 - 09:14 AM

FYI - the latest information on moving the entrance/exit on the Astronomical Observing field indicates this won't be completed until 2024.  This would accompany closing off the existing entrance and having some form of light barriers to further protect from stray light coming from Rt. 44.

Talked to my friends set up on the field right now (evening 7/1/22). This is correct as of now - some issue with fitting all the construction machines into a small space. The 'move the gates' project will probably be completed end of warm season next year - so - effectively, beginning of 2024. In the meantime - expect construction.

 

On the good side - they reported no issues at all with non-astronomers, others, etc -- and while last night was rainy - this is the 4th of July weekend - mostly moonless - with a string of clear nights. My friends have been there two days - plan to leave the morning of the 4th - but that night is looking good too.

 

Of course on the 4th there is a giant fireworks deal in Galeton. While the fireworks themselves are not a big deal - being over before it is fully dark - the congestion in Galeton is massive. Many of the park facing streets are full of lawn chairs lined up - little parking - crowds milling around and traffic.


Edited by George N, 02 July 2022 - 09:17 AM.


#17 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 843
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Huntingdon Valley, PA

Posted 03 July 2022 - 06:26 AM

To address the question originally posed by Bruce, the official answer is that the astronomy field has always been a "family campground".  Indeed, there is no non-family site anywhere in the PA DCNR campground jurisdiction.  The descriptively optimistic use of the gated side by "serious" astronomers with "equipment" is obviously too vague as an enforcible regulation.  Even the 2 star parties conducted in the astronomy field lack these participation requirements. 

 

No one could rationally restrict public access to the increasingly rare dark sky resource, but what is to be done to ensure common civility and light or noise discipline at 2:30 AM on a clear moonless, summer night?  Non-intrusive Ranger or State Police enforcement the next morning cannot accomplish much unless there is an official witness to a misdemeanor.

 

Sadly, for those of us who have experienced astronomy at Cherry Springs before its' popularity,  weekends there without moons will have to be shared with negligent, ignorant, or even moronic members of the public.  

 

Ken



#18 John O'Hara

John O'Hara

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,102
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Oil City, PA

Posted 03 July 2022 - 07:04 AM

The astronomy field was never a "campground", but a day use area.  The campground was (and is) located on the north side of Route 44 at the intersection of West Branch Road.  The "Astronomy Observation Field" was designated an overnight area only after the park recognized astronomy as an activity here, was never considered a general purpose campground, and has strict lighting rules that most family campers are either unwilling, or unequipped to fully abide by. Also, "general purpose campers" would lack the knowledge of what constitutes a "dim" red light.  What's been more disturbing to me is when serious observers, some with sophisticated gear, violate these rules, and some have done so consciously.  For example, I've known some of these folks feel that it's their right to lock their expensive gear in the car when their done, causing their headlights to flash, and some have done so without warning.  When others have confronted them, in some cases, they have a belligerent attitude, and in extreme cases, some have accessed their car more than once, locking it again, even after they've heard the protests of fellow observers the first time.  

 

I do spend several weeks there during the late spring, summer and early fall, and have done so starting in 1999.  With the amount of time, I've spent there, I have more opportunity to see these behaviors than some might.  By no means am I saying this behavior is typical of most of the astronomers; it just takes a few to cause an issue, and I think it's mostly around or during the two official star parties where you get a large pool of people.  I don't know that there's a lot that can be realistically done about it, I've just come to accept it.  I'm not the "police", and I can't enforce rules, so I try to set up my gear in a way that I'm shielded as best as possible, by placing my car, tent and the campers and cars of friends between my gear and the campsites of those I'm not familiar with.  Problems aside, I'm glad Cherry Springs is there.


  • FXM and Skywatchr like this

#19 kennyrichmond

kennyrichmond

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 843
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Huntingdon Valley, PA

Posted 03 July 2022 - 07:51 AM

There's a suggestion for a solution above.  If regulars arranged themselves, circling the wagons, so to speak, perhaps the public impact could be lessened. 

 

Ken


  • Skywatchr, John O'Hara and Augustus like this

#20 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 03 July 2022 - 10:53 AM

There's a suggestion for a solution above.  If regulars arranged themselves, circling the wagons, so to speak, perhaps the public impact could be lessened. 

 

Ken

The planned 'solution' is - a part-time Ranger on-site late afternoon until well after dark at least during high use periods - with full authority to enforce the rules - and increase safety. Alas - covid killed that 'plan' off last year (when the hired trainee came down with covid and it was too late to hire someone else). I'm not sure of the current status.

 

I have seen a Ranger or two walking around the field late afternoon on crowded times, like 4th of July weekend - talking to each group, reminding them of the rules, and asking questions to see if they fully understand. In a few cases - I've seen the Ranger collar someone and 'drag' them over to the green post to pay their fee! On 'public program night' they sometimes keep a Ranger or maybe two, on-site until after the crown clears out.

 

But Cherry Springs is never going back to 'the old days' with just a few 'in-the-know' observers. We are lucky that the Park is even open and supported by the 'locals'.


  • Skywatchr and John O'Hara like this

#21 John O'Hara

John O'Hara

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,102
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Oil City, PA

Posted 03 July 2022 - 09:57 PM

In the early days, before the gate, I remember deer spotters would come in and, once in a while, would deliberately point spotlights at telescopes.  I think deer spotting in this field was a local custom prior to it being designated for astronomy, and at the time, the locals were not pleased at our presence.  I've not run into this since probably the very early 2000s.  Maybe 2000 or 2001.  I don't remember when the gate was installed.  


Edited by John O'Hara, 03 July 2022 - 09:58 PM.

  • Dave Mitsky and Skywatchr like this

#22 George N

George N

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,350
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 04 July 2022 - 09:43 AM

In the early days, before the gate, I remember deer spotters would come in and, once in a while, would deliberately point spotlights at telescopes.  I think deer spotting in this field was a local custom prior to it being designated for astronomy, and at the time, the locals were not pleased at our presence.  I've not run into this since probably the very early 2000s.  Maybe 2000 or 2001.  I don't remember when the gate was installed.  

I liked it when they installed the gate. I liked it even better when they installed the flush toilet building! cool.gif

 

I'm not sure - in covid times - but recently - the Park itself has run wildlife spotting events on very moonie nights. I don't know if they use spotting lights.

 

I've seen the 'deer spotting' once or twice - on a weeknight - just a vehicle or two driving thru - they may well not have been 'locals' - but rather members of the large group of deer hunters, etc, who frequent the area. Some yelling and they left. I've seen 'locals' come, park across the road, and walk onto the field with chairs, etc, to relax and view the Milky Way. The only issue - one or two had dogs. On the 'flip side' I once hosted a college girl, her parents, and 2 or 3 college friends - she was local and had brought her friends home for the weekend. They spent most of two nights with me and my Obsession 20. Overall, most locals today love the CSSP Astronomers - because they bring lots of business to the area. In fact, the 'leaders' in Galeton wish that 'we' would spend more time in their town, where they installed shielding streetlights to support the Park, rather than that 'other' town that sometimes ignores the Park.

 

We can only imagine what would have happened to Cherry Springs if there was no Astronomy there when the gas frack'ing era started. Frack'ing right in the middle of the South Field and the old Airfield? Park sold off to equipment storage? State decisions on Parks depend greatly on local opinion as expressed by their State politicians.

 

A couple of years ago I heard the Manager say that prior to 'astronomy' Cherry Springs had maybe a half-dozen campers per month - now the camping area is filled all Summer and nearly filled Spring & Fall. That does mean people coming on full moon and miffed that they can't see the Milky Way! ;) The State Park system is exploring cloning "Cherry Springs Astronomy" into other darkish parks to add another use.


  • Dave Mitsky, Skywatchr, John O'Hara and 1 other like this

#23 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 106,258
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, North America, Planet Earth

Posted 04 July 2022 - 02:01 PM

In the early days, before the gate, I remember deer spotters would come in and, once in a while, would deliberately point spotlights at telescopes.  I think deer spotting in this field was a local custom prior to it being designated for astronomy, and at the time, the locals were not pleased at our presence.  I've not run into this since probably the very early 2000s.  Maybe 2000 or 2001.  I don't remember when the gate was installed.  

I was at the park on one occasion when the old entrance to the park at the southern end was still open and a deer spotter drove through the park blasting us with light.


  • Skywatchr and John O'Hara like this

#24 lsfinn

lsfinn

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 396
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Santa Fe, NM

Posted 04 July 2022 - 03:08 PM

To address the question originally posed by Bruce, the official answer is that the astronomy field has always been a "family campground".  Indeed, there is no non-family site anywhere in the PA DCNR campground jurisdiction.  The descriptively optimistic use of the gated side by "serious" astronomers with "equipment" is obviously too vague as an enforcible regulation.  Even the 2 star parties conducted in the astronomy field lack these participation requirements. 

 

No one could rationally restrict public access to the increasingly rare dark sky resource, but what is to be done to ensure common civility and light or noise discipline at 2:30 AM on a clear moonless, summer night?  Non-intrusive Ranger or State Police enforcement the next morning cannot accomplish much unless there is an official witness to a misdemeanor.

 

Sadly, for those of us who have experienced astronomy at Cherry Springs before its' popularity,  weekends there without moons will have to be shared with negligent, ignorant, or even moronic members of the public.  

 

Ken

Please refer to <https://www.dcnr.pa....targazing.aspx>


  • Skywatchr likes this

#25 peleuba

peleuba

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,633
  • Joined: 01 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Baltimore, MD and West Palm Beach, FL

Posted 05 July 2022 - 01:13 PM

 Are you listening? Rangers

 

Totally agree with you, Bruce.  I had first written about this on CN back in 2020 after a particularly bad week at Cherry springs.  Read about here: https://www.cloudyni...ings-911-–-920/ I also cross posted to several of the Cherry Springs FaceBook sites. 

 

Cherry Springs has become a mess.  And, its not because Chip Harrison retired as was posted above.  Its because of the push on social media and on Chamber of Commerce type of websites like: https://www.visitpottertioga.com/   that aggressively market Cherry Springs State Park to non-astronomers.  The local communities have fallen in love with the revenue that the dark skies bring to the area.

 

A word to the wise to all the semi-smug grin.gif Calhoun County, WV. peeps...   You would do well to keep quiet on social media regarding Calhoun's observing site.  This will slowdown - but won't stop - its eventual popularity.  The locals will start encouraging star gazing and using the dark skies as a vector to drive economic development in the depressed area.  

 

For Cherry Springs, the entrance is moving from Route 44 to E Fork Rd.  But I doubt this will stop people from coming in.  It will help with headlights from Route 44.   I do understand that there will soon be 24 hour Ranger service between Lyman Run, Cherry Springs and Patterson State Park.  For this year, as was mentioned, the Woodsmen's Carnival is moving across the street to the public area of CSSP.  These are new and welcome developments.  

 

I've also noticed the "family campground" element to the Cherry Springs Astronomy Field.  My sense is that the State and by extension the DCNR/Parks dept. don't discourage this as the most heavily attended state parks get the lions share of the funds in new annual budgetary awards.  As astronomers, we want small, quiet, and low key.  In other words, we have interests that are now directly in opposition to the mission of the State Parks Dept and local businesses which want to encourage public attendance and use of the state resources.

 

So, now, Cherry Springs is at a cross roads.  Does the DCNR "up its game" and continue to cater to the hard core astronomer that made the place famous?  Or, do they go mainstream chasing revenue allowing anyone even remotely interested in star gazing have a ticket to the party?  I'm a member of the Board of Directors of Dark Sky Fund and we've got some terrific ideas, but the the State is VERY slow to adopt any of them - even when the Dark Sky Fund pays.  Some of these include adding some additional interior roads, more power pedestals and a better way to enforce the 5 MPH No Dust speed limit.

 

I have been star gazing at Cherry Springs since 1996 but not regularly until 1998.  CSSP is not as dark as it once was.  Fracking, economic development, LED street lights etc have all contributed to this.  I recently heard Cherry Springs described as a solid "Bortle 2" site - it used to be, but now its really a Bortle 3.

 

All in my opinion, of course.


Edited by peleuba, 05 July 2022 - 01:31 PM.

  • Dave Mitsky, paul, Matt Lindsey and 2 others like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics