It’s hard to look up at the night sky and not imagine what is beyond. It’s no wonder there are so many stories dedicated to the heavenly bodies above us.
Visitors to Cherry Springs State Park on July 18 will get a taste of some of those stories during “Potter & Tioga Libraries Under the Night Skies,” which starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Night Sky Viewing Area. The program will include a laser-guided sky tour and presentations on topics such as photographing the night sky, constellation stories and a NASA astronaut.
The program is free.
The event is a joint effort of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Potter-Tioga Library System.
The event is part of the libraries’ summer reading program, which has a theme this year of “A Universe of Stories.”
“It works so well that our program is during the 50th anniversary for the Moon Launch (the reason for the national summer library theme),” said Leslie Wishard, administrator for the Potter-Tioga Library System and director of the Green Free Library in Wellsboro.
At the start of the program, library staff will be available with information about services offered by the 11 libraries in Potter and Tioga counties.
At 8 p.m., presentations will begin.
“With suggestions from Tim (Morey from the DCNR) and the directors, we had several names for speakers. We are very pleased with the three who were able to participate,” said Wishard. “In fact, they were the first three asked, and all three said yes.”
Curt Weinhold, a Coudersport photographer who teaches a Nightscapes Photography Workshop at Cherry Springs, will give a presentation on good spots to view and photograph the night sky at the park. Jessica Spencer, a teacher with the Northern Tioga School District, will share one or two stories of animal constellations.
Bonnie Kyofski, a teacher and storyteller, will share “a tale of the universal child’s fascination with starry skies from ‘The Little Prince,’” the release stated. She’ll then share real-life stories of pilots and a NASA scientist she knows.
Tim Morey, park natural resource specialist, will serve as emcee.
Following the presentations will be a laser-guided tour of the night sky and a view of Jupiter, its moons and other celestial objects through park telescopes.
Wishard said the program is open to everyone, be they library patrons or park guests, and there are activities that will interest people of all ages. She hopes families attend to experience the event together.
She explained, “Curt’s program may be more geared for teens and adults. But Jessica’s program will probably be more for children She has a constellation activity prepared for them to go along with her story. And, Bonnie’s storytelling is for everyone!”
Wishard described how the idea for the event formed.
“Last year, Tim Morey, National Resource Specialist, presented at my library,” she said. “I spoke with him at that time to see if our system could partner with DCNR to have a program at Cherry Springs,” she said.
“Tim was wonderful — he jumped at the idea and felt that there had to be a literacy component to the program,” Wishard said.
Stories of the heavens are of particular interest this month, as the nation is celebrating a landmark anniversary of a monumental feat of space explorers — and of humankind.
“The libraries’ free program on July 18 at Cherry Springs is being held the same week that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s manned Apollo 11 space vehicle landed on the moon in 1969,” a press release on the event stated. “NASA, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government, launched the manned Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 16, 1969.
“Four days later, on July 20, the Eagle landed on the moon. The next day, July 21, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to step onto the moon’s surface followed 19 minutes later by lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin,” the release said.
While library directors in the Potter-Tioga System meet monthly, this is the first time they’ve organized a system-wide summer program for the public. It’s also the first time they’ve partnered with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on a program.
The library system, a two-county system comprising five Potter County libraries and six Tioga County libraries, has enjoyed working more together on shared activities.
“In June, several Tioga County libraries partnered with Mansfield University for a Planetarium show which was a wonderful success,” said Wishard. “All the libraries were invited, but it was a distance for Potter County library patrons to attend. With these two programs this year under our belts, we hope to partner with more activities in the future.”
Anyone who plans to attend “Under the Night Skies” is asked to register at http://events.dcnr.pa.gov/cherry_springs_state_park. For problems registering online or more information, call (814) 435-1037 or email email@example.com.
The program will be canceled if inclement weather occurs. If it’s cloudy, all activities but stargazing and the laser tour will be held.
Cherry Springs State Park is located at 4639 Cherry Springs Road, Coudersport, 12 miles from U.S. Route 6 in Galeton via West Branch Road and 15 miles from Coudersport via Route 44.