Dark Sky Observing

The Dark Sky Observing special interest group is interested in observing from locations away from city lights. The main gatherings are the WCAC quarterly dark sky outings. This group plans these events and gives detailed information for these outings at the club meetings and in the Horizon Newsletter.  Several locations that have been used in the past are Mohican State Park, Salt Fork State Park and Spruce Knob in West Virginia. These sites have a visual limiting magnitude of 6.0 or better. Club members and their guests are always welcome.  This is also a forum to share observing notes, observing lists, observing techniques, information on equipment, individual trip reports to special sites and to make information available about dark sky areas in Northeast Ohio..

If you are a club member and would like to get involved with the Dark Sky Observing group contact Phil Creed or Bill Castro.


Dark Sky Tutorial - What makes a good dark sky site and what is NLM.

Dark Sky Search Tips - General areas in and outside Ohio, advantages, disadvantages and light domes.


You know you're a deep sky observer when... - if you answer yes to any of these you should get involved with the Dark Sky Observing SIG!


No plans at this time.

Observers Logs

2001 WCAC Winter Star Party - Site was Hocking Hills area on January 19-20th.

2000 WCAC Autumn Star Party - Took place Friday October 20 in the Mohican area. A good turnout of about 15 showed up. Everybody was an astro imager that night. Phil Creed brought his video camcorder and took video images of deep space objects through everybody's scope.

Spring Safari - The most recent project was a held on June 5th, 6th and 7th at Spruce Knob, West Virginia. According to Phil Hoyle: Spruce Knob went just fine.  I'm sure Phill C. will probably do some kind of  write-up on it.  We are also thinking about a slide show or something for one of our meetings.  It was slightly hazy both nights though. This reduced our overhead limiting magnitude to only 7.2!  The limiting magnitude at the horizons was probably closer to 3.  This disappointed Phill. C. tremendously. Anyone who has been observing with us recently knows what I am talking about.

Highlights of the trip:

1.  Observing the central star of M57 through my scope on Friday night and Bill Priut's 20" dob on Saturday night.

2.  Stunning views of M51 through Bill Pruit's scope and really seeing why they call it the Whirlpool.

3.  Just scanning through the Virgo cluster through anybody's scope.

4.  Showing the heavens two older teenagers/younger 20s kids that just happened to come by on Friday and having them return with about twenty of their friends on Saturday night.  BAM!

5.  Staying at a halfway decent cabin instead of a halfway decent Motel room.

6.  The cookout on the top of the mountain Saturday night.

7.  Observing Omega Centauri through Phill C's 16x80s for the first time.

8.  Sunrise on the mountain Saturday morning and seeing all the fog in the valleys and realizing that if we hadn't such a good spot we would have been fogged in.

Winter Dark Sky Outing - (by Bill Castro) The clubs winter dark sky outing was on February 5th at Salt Fork State Park. We set up around 6:00 and chased the clouds away. The sky turned out better than we thought it would be. Although the NLM wasn't as good as it could have been for that site, it was still better than The Wilderness Center. We had a nice fire going in a grill and had hot drinks and hot dogs to help keep us going. With my 80 mm f5 refractor I saw 25 objects and was still going when the clouds suddenly rolled in at around 10:30. The Akron/Canton Airport's weather report for 12:30 that night (when I got home) was 22 degrees, 85% humidity and 18 degrees dew point.

The Lure Of The Unexpected, By Dave Gill. One of the joys of astronomy is the surprising things we see.

Beside the Sky . By Phillip J. Creed. A trip report about Spruce Knob.

More Power. By Bill Castro. A trip report about an individuals first time up "The Big Hill".

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Last updated January 11, 2009, by Brian Gray