SPENCER – Fall Creek Falls – one of the state’s most remote, and well-attended parks – will host a star viewing party from Friday, May 6-Sunday, May 8.
This is the 12th year for the so-called “Tennessee Spring Star Party.” Fall Creek Falls State Park, being remote, has exceptionally dark skies, and with at an elevation of 1850 feet above sea level, views from the observation field provide a very prominent view of the Milky Way.
“From the beginner with a passing curiosity, to the astronomy professional, the party has plenty to offer,” Stuart Carroll, a park manager at Fall Creek Falls State Park, said. “We have assembled a group of professional and amateur speakers that will provide a variety of perspectives to all who love the night sky.”
For newcomers to astronomy, there will be an “Introduction to the Night Sky” workshop (how to use a simple astronomical telescope and star wheel) from 8-9 p.m. both nights. Carroll said it’s a great way to start learning the night sky by discovering planets, stars, and constellations. For those who need help setting up their telescope, they may come to the field at 7:30 p.m.
Other notable speakers/events include:
- Chuck’s “model exhibit” – detailed and accurate reproductions of the International Space Station (ISS), Saturn Rocket, Rovers, and lots of other space exploration equipment.
- Tammy and Craig Temple will provide insight into how they take and process their award winning astro-images. They have been published and displayed in many periodicals and forums.
- Paul Lewis will be bringing us up to date on what is going on in the field of astronomy. Lewis leads the outreach programs for the Astronomy and Physics department at the University of Tennessee. He is also a NASA ambassador.
- Monique Johnson, a park ranger at Pickett State Park, will tell us how she obtained the prestigious “IDA Dark Sky” designation for Pickett State Park. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) seeks to protect the quality of our night sky, and one of the most coveted certifications attainable is the IDA Dark Sky certification.
The event is sponsored by Fall Creek Falls State Park, the Cumberland Astronomical Society, Astronomy in the Parks Society, and Dyer Observatory.
There is no registration or registration fee for this event. Visitors must cover lodging and food costs. Large groups are welcome. FCFSP will be glad to work with scouts on astronomy merit badge requirements. For more information, contact Lloyd Watkins at (615) 824-3005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: The park’s observation field is not a designated camping area, officials say, so travel trailers, tents or large RV’s are not allowed, but large vehicles can be parked an adjacent large paved area. For those observing all night, cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs or vans can park on the field with your scope. You may nap or eat snacks out of your vehicle. The Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn has a special astronomy event package for the weekend, or camping at the campground is available. Also cabins can be reserved for families or large groups. If you’re staying the night at the Inn or cabins, it is highly recommended that you make reservations in advance.