Drive me to The Milky Way:
A Collaborative
RAS Project

To help answer a common question we receive from guests at our meetings, we are asking our membership to share with us their answer to:

How far do I have to travel to see the Milky Way?

I want to enlist the help of our membership to answer an often asked question. People want to know how far to go from Philadelphia to avoid the glow of city lights. Astronomers know a good dark sky will include a view of the Milky Way. I have had many discussions with members about where they find good dark skies and a view of the the rest of the stars of our home galaxy not normally visible from Philadelphia.

After conferring with our RAS board, many felt it would be great to open the discussion for our membership and make it a collaborative project. I think that a map of some sort might be posted with members input about where they travel to see the Milky Way. I'll talk more about this project and how it aligns with goals of the International Year of Astronomy to get the message out when I see you all at our September 9 meeting.     Dr. Milt Friedman


A spot that I talked about to our members at a meeting last year is worth mentioning here. It is called East Point Light. I found on a drive to Wildwood NJ, from Philadelphia along the wooded trail.  I have only been there in late fall, and winter since I think the bugs might drive anyone crazy in the summer. From the lighthouse beach you have a great dark view to the South West where you can see most of the Milky Way to just above the Southwestern horizon. Not much detail of dust lane, but central portion does visibly appear darker.   From Philadelphia it is about 1 hour (no traffic off season.)    Mike

Sergeantsville, New Jersey is almost directly North of Philadelphia as the crow flies. Located about midway between Flemington and Lambertville is a very dark stretch of road (Sergeantsville Road) with a farmhouse that is also a bed and breakfast located just a few miles above the intersection of roads called Sergeantsville. An unused tennis court, or some easily accessible surrounding fields at night provide a nice platform to view the Milky Way almost horizon to horizon. Southern Horizon is pretty dark due to distance from Phila. Lambertville does not give off much of a light glow. I’ll provide contact information below. This is not an advertisement or endorsement for the b&b, since I have not stayed the night, but the owner let’s me set up scopes for evening viewing and has said anyone from RAS would be welcome, just call ahead to let them know. You can check it out at:
483 Sergeantsville Road
Flemington, NJ 08822



I live in Maple Shade, NJ (just across the river from Northeast Philly). The closest place for me to get a good view would be Coyle Field, about 38 miles away on Rt 72 (on the way to Long Beach Island). It takes about 50 minutes to get there. For example, last Tuesday night, the Milky Way was billowing from Cepheus into the Summer Triangle, then down through Scutum into Sagittarius.

There are darker places farther away, e.g., Scott's Pit near Green Bank in Wharton State Forest (about an hour away) or Belleplain State Forest in Cape May County (about 1.5 hours away).



The Quickie (Washington’s Crossing State Park )- After conducting evening star lectures at the New Jersey State Museum, we would travel with the audience in tow to Washington’s Crossing State Park, Simpson Observatory (before it was named the Simpson) to view the Milky Way. The AAAP maintains a roll back rooftop observatory there on the Jersey side of the river. It is not their preferred dark sky facility (I believe which is in Jenny Jump State Forrest.)
When at Zenith, the Milky Way can be seent down to 30 degrees up from  north horizon, and visible down to 45 degrees up from the Southern Horizon (Philadelphia Side).   Ted



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