Photograph the Milky Way at Cherry Springs State Park

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best dark sky park in Eastern United States, it’s an ideal place for astronomers and photographers to observe and photograph the night sky.


1. Check the weather

2. Get 1-2 digital cameras with large aperture lens and good high ISO capabilities

An EV100 around -7 is required to get good exposure for the Milky Way, in other words, that is 13s at f/1.4, ISO 1600 or 13s at f/2.8, ISO 6400.

The Canon 24mm/1.4 II USM and Nikon 24mm/1.4G ED might be good choices. You may want to consider rentals if you don’t use this type of lenses much.

You will also need tripods.

Equipments I used to photograph at the park

Startrails blended by StarStaX

Photographing the Milky Way is a tricky task, there are a couple of things you should beware of, such as using live view to focus, appropriate shutter speed, etc. Here is a good guide on photography tips.

3. Planning to spend the night at the park

There are campsites reservable at the park, you can make your reservations here. Note: You cannot reserve spots in the astronomy field, but you can enter before dark and stay during the night, a fee is required.

Since the reservation site is not showing the exact location of each campsite, here is a trick:

Click and open the details page of a campsite, look for the GPS coordinates and enter them on Google Maps, they are pretty accurate.

Most phones don’t work there, however there is a Wi-Fi network, the name and password is CSSP and DarkSky2015 (as of Apr. 2016)

Also prepare red flashlights, cash and expect cooler temperature.


Cherry Springs State Park is for serious astronomers to spend entire night observing the sky, you can’t use white lights or enter / exit the astronomy field after dark, there are also speed limit and quiet hours rules. Here is an etiquette document from Amateur Astronomy Magazine.

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