2024 Star Party at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park

We’re here today with Mary Dawson of the Watoga Foundation, and she is going to talk about the Star Party

Mary, can you tell our listeners about this event?

“All right, the Star Party is a great family night,” Dawson answered. “We have telescopes: there will be three large telescopes for everyone to look through to see especially the moon and the stars. It’ll happen on Friday, September 22nd. The rain date is September 24th. Be there at about 7:30 pm if you want a good look at the moon. We’re having lots of good things for kids. We’ll have an art packet for kids.”

What is the reason the ‘star Party is held?

“One of the reasons for holding the Star Party is to remind people about the beauty of our dark skies. We need to protect those dark skies. We have a few pockets of light pollution in Pocahontas County, but Droop Mountain State Park, where the tower is (and) where we’re having our star party has nice, beautiful dark skies, and we want to remind people how beautiful they are. To keep those dark skies, we need to be looking at our outside light fixtures. Make sure those outside lights have a shield, a nice dark shield that will keep all of the light going down to the ground, which is really, for safety reasons, where you want that light.”

Is there anything special people should know when they arrive at the Star Party?

“When you come to the Star Party, you are going to come to the (lookout) tower entrance. Going to the tower, you are going to park along the road, and it is great if you just use your parking lights when you do that. Then, you’ll have to walk up to the tower. If you bring a flashlight, we have red cellophane to cover your flashlight (lens,) because we only need red lights. We’ll also have red flashlights for you to borrow if you need to. We want you to navigate safely in the dark. Do not bring a pet, just for safety reasons.”

(Note: using only red lights will protect peoples’ night vision abilities.)

What else should people bring with them?

“Bring like a blanket; bring a chair; sit by the tower and enjoy the evening; look through the telescopes.”

Will you have experts there to point out what people should be looking for in the telescopes?

“We’ll have probably four amateur astronomers to interpret what you see in the sky.”

Will you have telescopes available there for people to use?

“There will be some tabletop telescopes there that you can learn how to use and look through. Someone will help you with those, and there will be three telescopes with amateur astronomers to interpret.”

Can people bring their own telescope if they have one?

“You are welcome to bring your telescope with you if you have one. You might (also) receive some help setting it up.”

What time should people arrive?

“Come at 7:30 if you want a good look at the moon. Stay a litter later to get a good look at stars. There is no charge, everything is free. The art packages for kids are free. The whole evening will be free. If the weather looks “iffy’ on the 22nd of September, you might call Watoga State Park (304-799-4087) the office there will know if we need to cancel.”

“The date, again, is Friday, September 22nd, the rain date will be the following Sunday, September 24th.”

If you would like to learn more about the importance of reducing light pollution in Pocahontas County, you can listen to our recent interview with Joe Kaffl, who is also a Watoga Foundation member. You can find that local news story on our website, alleghenymountainradio.org.

Once again, this free opportunity to look at and learn about the moon and the stars, will be held this Friday beginning at 7:30 pm at the Lookout Tower in Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. In the event of rain or too many clouds, the event will be changed to Sunday, September 24th.


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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