Cherry Springs – Dark Sky Park
If you enjoy stargazing, then head to Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, PA. It is one of the best places on the east coast to see the Milky Way, planets, and other out of this world sights, not just because of the dark skies, but also because of the helpful park staff and friendly astronomers eager to share their love of the night sky with others.
In the late 1990s, astronomers began to recognize and talk about the great views at the park. Phil Harrington’s Dark Registry, an astronomy internet site, said the park offered the darkest skies in the state, with “no light pollution sky glow”, and had a 360-degree view. Cherry Springs was no longer a best-kept secret… people began coming more and more frequently. In 1999, the park became the location for the annual Black Forest Star Party, an event that is still held at the park to this day. And park staff now offer a variety of free programs for visiting through the Stars-N-Parks program, funded in part by the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund of the PA Parks and Forests Foundation.
Recognizing the unique nature of Cherry Springs’ dark skies, in 2000, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources named it the first Dark Sky Park in the state park system. Eight years later, the International Dark Sky Association awarded the park a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park certification. If that’s not impressive enough, Cherry Springs was just the second park in the world to become an International Dark Sky Park. And it’s practically right in our backyards!