What a fun time I had at BSFP

Aug 21, 2007
Syracuse, NY
September 22, 2009

Hello to all my fellow NikonCafe Members:

What a fun time I had this last weekend at BFSP. What is BFSP you ask?

It is the Black Forest Star Party in Pennsylvania. I attended my first BFSP this last weekend and I want to encourage my fellow photographers to make an effort to go to this event next year.

The Black Forest Star Party is held at Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County in Pennsylvania. The park is surrounded by a large forest and the park sits on the top of a 2330 foot above sea level mountain.

What makes this star party unique in comparison to other sites is that this park is a designated dark sky park specifically designed for astronomical viewing and the site is not only very beautiful but is has NO light pollution of any type to destroy the beauty of the night time sky.

This site according to many professional and amateur astronomers is the best site on the entire east coast for viewing the night time sky. This star party is always held when the moon is NOT visible.

At this site, the Milky Way spans the entire sky going from the Northeastern sky and down to near the southern horizon.

The sky is extremely dark and because of this the views are just absolutely amazing. Not only is the Milky Way clearly visible, but you could see the Andromeda Galaxy (M-31) the globular cluster in Hercules, the Pleiades, the double cluster in Perseus, the Orion Nebula (M-42) and many other astronomical wonders.

You don't have to have an expensive telescope to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, the way that it was MEANT to be seen. In fact a pair of decent binoculars will show you quite a bit more of the beauty of the universe which is the greatest mystery of nature that is right above your head.

If you do decide to purchase a telescope get the largest lens or mirror that you can afford, and do some research on how to buy a telescope on-line.

IGNORE telescopes from TV shop at home channels, and IGNORE the hype on magnification, and don't purchase a telescope from a large discount department stores as those telescopes are usually very poor in quality. You will be better off going to a dealer and spending more and getting a scope that is well made, and easy to use. However, you DON'T have to in order to enjoy the beauty of the night time sky, and many people start out using just their eyes or a pair of binoculars.

Any astronomer will tell you that light gathering power is more important then magnification. Just like in photography a larger lens or mirror gathers more light then a smaller one.

This site also gives photographers the ability to see and photograph the night time sky, to start out all you need are your digital SLR, a tripod, and a fast wide angle lens of say 24mm or wider. Set your camera to ISO 1600 and use exposures of 30 seconds to about 1 minute and 10 seconds and you will be able to capture some of the beauty that is just amazing to see. Focus carefully and have the lens wide open for best results.

In closing, I urge my fellow photographers who have never had the opportunity to see the night time sky the way that it SHOULD be observed to check out this event next year. Go to www.bfsp.org and you will be able to find more information on this event after it is posted. I hope my fellow photographers to attend an event like this, you will be amazed and won't regret it and will remember it for the rest of your life just because the night sky is so beautiful.

A five star site, with a five star sky and a five star experience. What else could anyone ask for!

Steve Zalewski
Syracuse Camera Club Member and Amateur Astronomer
Syracuse, NY

Nikon F5, Nikon N80, SB-28, 70-300VR, 70-300G, 24mm F2.8D Nikkor, 50mm F1.8D Nikkor, 60mm F2.8D Micro Nikkor, a Quantaray 70-210 manual zoom in Nikon Mount that I purchased for $9.00 brand new a few months ago, and a Celestron C5+ astronomical telescope with wedge, tripod, clock drive, eyepieces, solar filter, and other accessories.
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 28, 2008
Real Name
I spent a weekend in southern Ohio a few weeks ago. It was about as dark and clear as I have seen the sky in a long time. I had forgotten what it looked like. Thanks to the Wal-Mart in my back yard, I don't get to see the night sky very much anymore. I actually saw the Milky Way for the first time in years! Soooooo many stars! I hope you got some pictures and post them soon. :smile:
Jan 3, 2006
Upstate New York

Thanks for mentioning BFSP. As a fellow resident of the (usually) humid and light-polluted northeast I know how frustrating it is to try to look at the night sky around here in contrast to what it could be. Maybe a dozen years or so ago I vacationed in the southwest and stayed overnight at Mesa Verde National Park, where I saw the best night sky I can remember.

It'd be a lot easier to get to a site within driving distance.
Dec 30, 2007
smack in the middle of no-where, Ontario Canada
we were at our camp this weekend. sitting by the fire on friday night, looking at the vast and starry night sky this thread came to mind. it reminded me that living in the middle of nowhere does have its advantages.

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