Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania owes its name to the black cherry trees that grow profusely over its 82-acre area ringed by 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest, which adds to its awesome wilderness. The park retains its original character - as intact as it was two centuries back—remote and wild. It is one of the only eight International Dark Sky Parks in the world. Its pitch dark but clear night skies are a sanctuary both for the astronomers and lay stargazers, who visit it in large droves for exploring the numberless planets, galaxies, nebulae and other heavenly bodies that populate the skies. The park hosts some of the most awesome spots for stargazing on the East Coast. You have only to visit the park to watch the spectacular shadow of the galaxy, the Milky Way especially during the optimal night conditions.
Located in the Texas State and spread over an area of 801,163 acres (324,219 ha), Big Bend National Park receives its name from the bend in a river that surrounds it. The park has national importance and as such is a protected area in the country. The park was named as an International Dark-Sky Park by the International Darkness Association, which has certified it as one of the only ten places on the planet for dark-sky stargazing. It also contains some of the darkest measured skies in North America. It offers panoramic views of thousands of big and bright stars, planets and clear outline of the Milky Way band on certain nights. The park also attracts its share of astronomers and amateurs on moonless nights.
Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah was declared as a National Monument in 1908. As the name suggests, the park has naturally built bridges; prominent among them are "Kachina," "Owachomo" and "Sipapu" named in memory of the Native Americans who had once made it their home. The bridges are believed to have been cut by the change in flow of a river as it winded through the rocks. From the bridge, you can gain a fabulous view of thousands of stars, whose sheer brightness casts a shadow on the landscape. The park hosts some of the darkest patches in the skies in the country, which show up to 15,000 stars all through the night. Of particular mention is the glorious river of light created by the Milky Way, which rises especially over Owachomo Bridge.
Death Valley National Park, California has been certified as the third International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. National Park System because it is home to some of the darkest night skies in the country. The Park is spread over a massive area of 3.4 million acres, of which, 90% is designated as a wilderness area. It is, therefore, regarded as the crown jewel of star gazing. It is a must-visit place for those who wish to witness lunar-eclipses and meteor showers. The best time to visit the Park is November through April, when the weather is fine. However, the temperature can get uncomfortably hot in summer. According to Tyler Nordgren, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Redlands (Calif.), this is the place where you “can look up and see the universe the way everyone could 100 years ago."
Also called Mauna a Wākea in Hawaiian culture, Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. A major part of the Mauna Key is submerged in the ocean so that it is 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level, but its total altitude is actually more than 10,000 m (33,000 ft), if it is measured from its base in the ocean. What this means is that Mauna Key is much taller than Mt. Everest, regarded the highest peak in the world. The higher you go the clearer becomes the visibility of the sky mainly because the air is free from all atmospheric pollutants that impede the clear vision. Moreover, the summit is above the inversion layer which keeps the clouds below its location ensuring thereby that it is surrounded by dry and stable air-flow. Since Mauna Kea is situated far from the city lights, it is, free from light pollution, which means that you can observe even the smallest astronomical objects in the sky. Thirteen powerful telescopes funded by eleven countries have been set up at the summit which is accessible by road.
Christmas is a magical time of year for everyone. Whether you are staying at home with the family or choosing to travel, there are many different things you can do for this celebration. If you're looking for a great spot to head to for Christmas and love...