I've always wondered what the view of the night sky would be like in Rothrock State Forest what with the larger towns and cities surrounding this District but I've never had a chance to check it out. So this past Saturday with the forecast calling for absolutely clear skies and the moon not supposed to rise until early Sunday morning I packed up my camera gear and headed out into the woods.
It turns out that Rothrock is fantastic for viewing the stars!
I started with a quick night hike to the Indian Wells Overlook on the Mid-State Trail from the Big Flat Natural Area parking lot on Bear Gap Road. I've hiked this section many times, something that I always recommend people do before attempting a night hike, so I was pretty familiar with the route and the terrain. Arriving at the overlook I could hear Barred Owls calling from Bear Meadows below me and as I set up my camera gear I could clearly see the Milky Way hanging over the Kishcoquillas Valley to the South. From there I headed to Bear Gap Vista which with it's view to the North the Milky Way isn't visible at, but you can get a view of the night sky over State College and see just how much light the city is emitting into the night sky.
My next stop was Whipple Dam State Park where I grabbed a couple of pictures of the Milky Way over the lake. I tried to get a shot with the Milky Way reflecting off of the lake's surface but it just wasn't far enough in the Western portion of the sky at this time of the year. Perhaps in the Fall I can get that shot. Next up was the parking area at Bear Meadows and then the overlook on Wampler Road. By that point, it was about 1:00 Sunday morning and I was exhausted so I found a pull-off and grabbed a couple of hours of rest before heading out to explore more a dawn.
Pictures by Kyle Fawcett ( Facebook Instagram)