In 2007, I had the good fortune of attending Stellafane, an amateur telescope making convention held every year in Springfield, VT. It was my first time to Stellafane, and certainly not my last. I was absolutely awestruck by the darkness of the sky there. It was so dark that the strobe lights of every plane that flew overhead practically blinded you. As I was standing there staring into space, I heard someone near me say, "This is dark, but the darkest skies I ever saw was at Potter County." I didn't realize it at the time, but he was talking about Potter County, PA, home of Cherry Springs State Park.
Whoever he was, that guy back at Stellafane 2 years ago was correct. Let me tell you...wow!
The skies at this year's BFSP were absolutely the darkest skies I had ever seen. It was generally a good time had by all, with the few exceptions. Disrespectful and inconsiderate smokers couldn't stop smoking even under the vendor tents. My feverish hatred for smoking was only magnified under the tents as I couldn't even breathe long enough to check out the wares. The worst part of the weekend is that the guest from Hands-On Optics was the victim of theft after someone walked away with a TeleVue Nagler 26mm eyepiece. There are all types of people that are into amateur astronomy, but it really disgusts me that even this pure hobby isn't immune from crime. I'd like to think that there is a mutual respect for fellow skywatchers. I'd like to think.
Anyway, the overall experience was positive, and I hope Luke had a great time since it was his very first time to BFSP. Much was learned this year, and I have no doubt that even more will be learned next year.
To the upper left is one of my 10 second exposures of the northern sky. For some reason, I couldn't get my mount to track. Very annoying. The bad news is, the stars started to trail. The good news is, there is some color showing up, even after 10 seconds.