Cherry Springs State Park is an increasingly popular area for star gazing near Wellsboro, PA. Located 32 miles (about a 45-minute drive) from the Penn Wells, Cherry Springs has been named an International Dark Sky Park and recognized as one of the best stargazing spots on the East Coast of the United States. The damage to health and psyche that can be caused by light pollution has been garnering increasing coverage in the media, both traditional and social. The Borough of Wellsboro makes a conscious effort to limit night lighting, so guests strolling outside the Hotel or Lodge often have a better view of the stars than they do at home. But taking the drive to Cherry Springs will take your stargazing to a whole different level and definitely puts things in perspective. Here are some top tips you should know as you plan your summer stargazing trip to Wellsboro and Cherry Springs.

PHOTO COPYRIGHT NICHOLAS A. TONELLI

  • Cherry Springs State Park offers many public programs throughout the summer at no cost! Program dates, times and details can be found on the DCNR website.
  • All night sky programs offered by the State DCNR require pre-registration and typically fill up well in advance. Registration should be done online by clicking on the green “REGISTER” button on the page of the event that you would like to attend.
  • The optimal time to stargaze at Cherry Springs is near a new moon when skies are very dark. The milky way can’t be seen from the park when there is a full moon present.
  • Registration at a program enables you to view features highlighted by DCNR staff in the telescopes available on-site. If you do not register or you are on the waitlist for a program, you may still attend and listen to the program but you may not have the opportunity to look through the telescopes. You can always bring your own telescope if you have one.
  • Don’t touch the telescopes! It is best to just keep this in mind before you arrive. That way you are less likely to move the carefully calibrated scope off its focus point, requiring the ranger to reset the view. If you bring kids, this will be especially important, trust us!
  • This season Cherry Springs is offering Nature at Night programs almost every weekend that will be held 1.5 hours prior to the Night Sky Program. If you plan to arrive early, you can join park staff for a family-friendly program featuring fascinating critters that enjoy the night skies as much as we do.
  • Park Welcome and Walking Tours will also be offered several times throughout the summer. To find out more about the Nature at Night programs and the Park Welcome and Walking Tours check the park calendar.
  • You may come observe on your own at the park anytime, but it is best to arrive before dark and always dress warmly, as it gets cold at night when the sun goes down, especially here in the mountains. You can bring lawn chairs to sit in to keep from sitting on the colder ground. Regulars will often bring blankets or sleeping bags to sit on or cover up in while enjoying the view.
  • Visitors may want to check the Clear Sky Chart for 48-hour forecasts of cloud cover and viewing conditions.
  • Plan on not bringing/using your white lights in the park. Your fellow astronomers will thank you!