Take one look at a nighttime photo of the Northeast from space, or a map of the region’s population density, and it’s immediately clear why we have a night sky problem. Millions of people crowded between Boston and Philadelphia means millions of lights illuminating our streets, businesses and homes, creating enough light pollution to severely dull our night sky.
But we need our starry night sky. Increasing evidence suggests that light pollution has real effects on our health. And few would argue it’s also good for the soul. There’s nothing quite like gazing up at a clear night sky brilliantly lit by thousands of stars to make you stand in awe of the universe and reflect on your place in it.
If you think you have to go out west to see a spectacular starry night sky, think again. The Northeast has several great areas from which to check out a clear night sky complete with views of the Milky Way. Among the best is Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park.
Nearly as remote and wild as it was 200 years ago, 82-acre Cherry Springs is a favorite among East Coast astronomers. In 2008, it was named just the second International Dark Sky Park in the world. The park features a night sky viewing area and has 30 campsites.
Cherry Springs is also surrounded by the massive 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest. And if you’re looking to wrap your stargazing in with a great backpacking trip, the Susquehannock Trail – a loop trail roughly 85 miles long – passes nearby.
To maximize the excitement of your night sky viewing, coordinate your park visit with one of the regular meteor showers that occur throughout the year, including the Perseids Meteor Shower in early August.