Submitted by guest blogger, Michael Martineau
Stargazing never fails to fill my soul with happiness and put a lasting smile on my face. It's an adventure that never gets old, because each night is slightly different. On cloudy nights when you can only make out a few stars, you still get to experience the silky clouds moving across the sky. On a clear night you'll get to see planets, the Milky Way, and, if you're lucky, a shooting star will streak across the sky. Don't forget to make a wish!
So how do you maximize your chances of seeing all the night sky has to offer? You'll need to find a location that is dark, with minimal or no light pollution. Higher elevation spots are best, as they provide unobstructed views of the sky and horizon. Luckily, Tupper Lake is full of areas like this, making it a hot spot for stargazing and astrophotography enthusiasts like myself.
Tupper Lake is stunning at all hours of the day, providing incredible views at sunrise and sunset, and especially in the darkness. It's no wonder they put the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory here. The darkness at night provides the perfect backdrop for stargazing and astrophotography. Those looking to gaze upon the stars, planets, and Milky Way can head to the observatory a half hour after sunset every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day, weather depending. Following Labor Day, the observatory will be open on the first and third Fridays of every month.
Being new to astrophotography, I've been trying to soak up as much knowledge on how to work my camera as possible by reading articles. While every camera is different, it must work for a dark sky with minimal light pollution. When I looked up dark sky locations on the web, all signs pointed me to Tupper Lake. I first experienced the night sky in Tupper Lake in the early winter of 2017, and it has been a place I continuously go back to ever since. It has everything an astrophotographer wants. I recommend doing some daytime scouting to find your perfect location - one that will be dark enough and provide a clear view of the sky while also having some interesting scenery. Here are some spots I highly suggest checking out:
Pro Tip: It takes your eyes on average 25 minutes to fully acclimate to the darkness. Keep this in mind and be patient if it seems hard to see for a little bit.
Adirondack Public Observatory
If you're not into driving down super dark dirt roads in the middle of the night and are interested in having some knowledge dropped on you while taking in the night sky, the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory in Tupper Lake is a must visit. Parents with younger children - let the kiddos stay up late one night and bring them here for an experience that will change their lives. Millennials - think date night. What's more romantic than watching the stars with your significant other?
Take your stargazing to great heights and take the short 1.1 mile hike up Coney Mountain. It's an easy to moderate trail that puts you deeper into the Adirondack forest, thus giving you darker skies. Lay a blanket down on the bald summit, lie back, crack open a snack, and take in the sparkling sky. Being at a high elevation allows you to look for shooting stars streaking toward the horizon, or the Milky Way.
Setting Pole Dam Road
Just a short drive outside the town of Tupper Lake is Setting Pole Dam Road. It's a bumpy dirt road that leads to a channel between Raquette Pond and Piercefield Flow. The small dam, flowing water, and tree-lined banks provide a beautiful backdrop for astrophotography. The water will look silky smooth, the stars will pop, and the dam is a great subject to put it all into context. I'm also a fan of having water in my astro photos because, if you're lucky, you'll get the reflection of the stars.
Regardless of whether you choose to explore one of the above locations or pick your own, Tupper Lake is a must-hit location for northeast stargazing and astrophotography enthusiasts. Dark skies, minimal light pollution, perfect landscape settings, and a ton of bright stars are all waiting. Happy stargazing, and don't forget to make a wish! Start planning your trip today!
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