Calhoun Stargaze 2016
Come join regional Amateur Astronomers at the Calhoun County Dark Skies Park in West Virginia on Friday September 30th thru Sunday October 2nd 2016 for an inaugural Starparty Convention
Calhoun County Park, located just south of Grantsville WV, is one of the darkest spots in the Eastern U.S. Skies at Calhoun can easily reach 7th magnitude. SQM readings regularly pass 21.5. The park is located a little NW of the center of West Virginia, and sits on a ridge with an elevation of around 1,100-ft.
The lower elevation of Calhoun vs. other mountainous sites in WV gives the park a key advantage as a year-round site. Early Fall temperatures are typically in the low 70s during the day, with nighttime lows dropping into the low 50s at night. The park has several ridge top locations to set up on and a large flat open field to potentially handle several hundred observers. Much of the park is mowed.
The park offers an on-site campground, as well as a renovated barn that has been converted into a local community center. Calhoun County Park recreational areas include hiking and bike trails weaving through the grounds, and a number of playground areas, a basketball court, ball diamond, fishing ponds, and abundant natural wildlife to enjoy. There’s also a ‘Historical Village’ with many period vintage buildings from the 1800’s.
Calhoun County Dark Skies Park will make a great ‘astronomical’ destination.
The nighttime skies at Calhoun are among the best east of the Mississippi. Regardless of season, the Milky-Way can easily be followed from one horizon to the next. There are just a couple of small light domes, one to the Northeast, and one to the West. The sky from the Southwest thru South to the Eastern horizon is pitch dark, as you are looking straight towards the Appalachian Mountains, with little to no residential or commercial development. And at 38 degrees latitude, the constellations are a lot higher than experienced at more northern locations.
A small campground within the park provides seven campsites with water and electrical hookups at each site. Shower and restroom facilities are located in the Red Barn/Community Building. Additionally, the upstairs of the Red Barn is available for limited sleeping bag use.
Both the campground and upstairs Red Barn sleeping space will be available to participants on a first-contact RSVP reservation basis. Other than the flat observing field, the rest of the park is generally hilly, and electrical outlets are few. If you have not reserved a campground or Red Barn spot in advance, please come prepared to camp outdoors with limited or no electric. A battery charging station will be available at the Red Barn.
As we are in the process of building out site facilities at the park, attendance for this year is limited to a total of 50 registrations, so please RSVP no later than Friday September 2nd! The cost of the two night camping event is only $30 USD per family, and includes dinner on Friday, three meals on Saturday, and a farewell breakfast on Sunday. For Saturday overnight, the cost is only $20. Those interested in attending for just the day program on Saturday, we are asking for an on-site $10 donation.
Calhoun Stargaze is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. Other project partners include Calhoun County, the City of Grantsville, The University of Tennessee, Fairmont State University, and West Virginia University Extension.
A program event schedule will be available soon.
For more information, please visit the following:
*Title photo courtesy Jesse Thornton: http://www.reflectioninapool.com/portfolio