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Black Forest Star Party

Black Forest Star Party at Cherry Springs

Black Forest Star Party

Cherry Springs State Park – June 2014

The unspoiled dark skies of Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania are a real treat to stargazers who attend the Black Forest Star Party.  Now this is what our night sky is supposed to look like!

Weather-wise, it has been an astrophotographers dream this summer. We have had lots of clear nights, and I have been taking full advantage! I attended my first “star-party” last week. The Black Forest Star Party has been running since 2005 at the Cherry Springs State Park and is run by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, PA. I was told that this year’s event had almost 500 attendees!

Black Forest Star Party - Milky WayFirst of all, the skies there are absolutely incredible.  The Milky Way stretches across the park from end to end without any intrusion from city lights.  They have a strict policy about white light, which really helps preserve your night vision throughout the night.

As I mentioned to a fellow amateur astronomer at the park, the CSSP is like a “car show” for telescopes. People from all over the US and Canada bring their prized astronomy gear and show it off.  20″ Dobsonian telescopes were commonplace at the CSSP, and there was even a 32″ Obsession in use!  Giant refractors, heavy-duty mounts, and expensive CCD cameras as far as the eye could see!

I was very impressed at the behavior of all the guests.  It was strange to be outside with almost 500 people all night without any loud music or yelling!  Just a big group of people who have traveled many miles for the same reason, dark skies!

Astronomy Camping at Cherry Springs

I chose to image the Eastern Veil Nebula during my 2 night stay at the park.  After stacking the 5-minute subs in Deep Sky Stacker, I think I ended up with just over 3 hours of good hours of exposure on this target.  I will definitely be coming back to Cherry Springs State Park in the near future.  I would highly recommend it to anybody seeking out beautiful dark skies.

Eastern Veil Nebula

NGC 6992 – The Eastern Veil Nebula

Photographed on: June 27, 2014

Astrophotography Equipment:

Telescope: Orion 8″ F/4 Astrograph Reflector
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro II and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: Orion Mini 50mm
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Stock)
ISO: 1600
Total Exposure: 3 Hours (36 x 300 seconds)
Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop CC
Support Files: 15 dark frames

Guided with PHD Guiding
Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
Processed in Adobe Photoshop CC

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