Calhoun Stargaze 2016 – in Wonderful West Virginia

Calhoun Stargaze 2016 in Calhoun Co West Virginia. Image by Jessie Thornton

Calhoun Stargaze 2016 in Calhoun Co West Virginia. Image by Jessie Thornton

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.

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 tickets and to purchase online:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/calhoun-stargaze-2016-tickets-26247305397

More information:

http://www.stellar-journeys.org/calhounpark.htm

To join the the yahoo Group:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CalhounCoDarkSkiesPark/info

 

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