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Archive for March, 2015

TRADE CITY LIGHTS FOR STARRY NIGHTS AT THE STAUNTON RIVER STAR PARTY

(SCOTTSBURG) – YOU ARE INVITED!  The public is invited to join the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) for an evening of stargazing on Saturday, March 21, 8 to 11 p.m. CHAOS will be hosting their spring star party at Staunton River State Park March 18 – 21.

As one of the darkest locations in the eastern United States, Staunton River State Park is an ideal location for viewing the night skies. The park recently submitted an application for Dark Sky Park certification to the International Dark Sky Association. 

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The Staunton River Star Party occurs each spring and fall, with participants coming from all along the Eastern seaboard and beyond for this event. Amateur and professional astronomers who have pre-registered will be set up in the observing field near the visitor center.

On Saturday night, weather permitting, visitors will be able to mingle with the astronomers and learn and view planets, stars, nebula and galaxies.

Visitors should dress for the weather and bring a flashlight, preferably one with a red lens. Red cellophane will be provided to cover flashlights if needed. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Parking will be at the pool parking lot adjacent to the Visitor Center, in order to keep car headlights off the viewing area. The public viewing night on March 21 is free of charge.

Registration for the full star party closed March 8. For more information about the event or to register for future star parties visit www.stauntonriver-starparty.org

Staunton River State Park is located in Halifax County at 1170 Staunton Trail, Scottsburg, VA. For park information you may call 434-572-4623, or email stauntonriver@dcr.virginia.gov.

For general information or to make overnight reservations at Staunton River or any of Virginia’s 36 award-winning state parks go to www.virginiastateparks.gov or call toll-free 800-933-7275.

 

Posted in: KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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Staunton River State Park Seeks Dark Sky Certification

(SCOTTSBURG) – Living in a rural area, we are blessed with wonderful views of the night sky. Most residents of the US, however, are not so lucky. Urban lights intrude on the night sky (referred to as light pollution) and there are many that have never seen the stars at all. Staunton River State Park is working to ensure that their night sky is protected for all to view and enjoy.

Staunton River State Park is in the process of applying for Dark Sky Park certification through the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). The IDA, based in Tucson, Arizona, is the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night. Their mission is “to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.”

The IDA defines Dark Sky Parks as those that are locations of exceptional nighttime beauty, dark skies education, and preservation of the nighttime environment. Staunton River State Park is working to join this exclusive list, as there are currently 20 parks worldwide certified as Dark Sky Parks. There are currently only two such parks on the East Coast.

Park Manager Adam Layman explains that there are numerous benefits to preserving our night sky. “Just 100 years ago, everyone had a view of the Milky Way, but now most Americans can’t see it at all.  Artificial light also disrupts nocturnal habits of animals, and plants and animals both depend on the light and dark cycle for natural rhythms and behaviors, which unnecessary nighttime lighting can affect. Limiting our nighttime lighting only to areas where it is needed, and only at a level that is needed, saves money on the electricity bill as well.  There is also no scientific evidence that increased nighttime lighting deters crime, as extremely bright lighting emits glare that actually decreases nighttime vision, and crimes such as vandalism thrive on nighttime lighting.”

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This certification will also be beneficial to the community in other ways, he continues.  “The Staunton River Star Party that we co-host with the Chapel Hill Astronomical Observational Society is growing each time it is held. We had over 150 astronomers come to Halifax County just to view our dark skies, drawing folks from up and down the east coast as well as from Canada just for this event. By earning this certification, those numbers will only increase. You can’t view the dark skies during the day, so these folks are venturing out to local restaurants, businesses, and attractions during the daytime so there is a huge tourism benefit as well.”

Layman adds that the final application for Dark Sky Park certification should be submitted to the IDA in mid-March. The application packet includes a Lightscape Management Plan which sets guidelines for how the park lights its facilities, a lighting inventory to ensure that outdoor lighting is dark sky friendly, sky quality measurements, and letters of support from agency and community leaders. Park staff and volunteers have been working on the application for about a year, and are excited about the potential this project holds. “If all goes well, we should know whether or not we achieved certification sometime this summer,” says Layman.

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Article contributed by Virginia State Parks Marketing Specialist, Pat Eastwood.

 

Posted in: KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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