why visit Dark Sites?
Let’s face it, Pinellas & Hillsborough are pretty rough. With the massive amount of light pollution we have near the city, it’s pretty challenging to image unless using narrowband filters. Travelling to a dark site is one of the best ways to help increase the signal to noise ratio of your images. It’s also a great way to meet other fellow astronomers, check out other equipment, & depending upon the location explore some truly beautiful places during the day.
Withlacoochee River Park
Location: Dade City, FL
Bortle Scale: 5
More Info: https://www.stpeteastronomyclub.org/viewing.php
This is SPAC’s official dark sky site, located at Withlacoochee River Park in Dade City, FL. On new moon weekends club members are invited to come camp out in a field at the park. No reservations required, RV hookups with power/water are available as well as bathroom & showers on site. The park also has a dump station for RVers.
Chiefland Astronomy Village (CAV)
Location: Chiefland, FL
Bortle Scale: 4
To setup at Chiefland Astronomy Village, you must be a member of the CAV club. Please reach out to the astrophotography committee for information on joining the CAV club. CAV is located within state forest & farms which makes for excellent viewing & imaging. The rules at CAV are very strict so please be sure to read and abide by them, they are taken very seriously be other members. Facilites there include bathrooms, showers, RV hookups with power only, and there is no dump station on site.
Kissimmmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP)
Location: 33104 NW 192nd Ave, Okeechobee, FL 34972
Bortle Scale: 2-3
Kissimme Prairie Preserve State Park is a 54,000 acre preserve just north of Lake Okeechobee. In 2016, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve was recognized as Florida’s first Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association It’s absolutely stunning during the day as well as at night. They have a large number of campsites, and a dedicated “astro pad” for astronomers to camp at. Reservations for new moon weekends at the astro pad typically get booked up very quickly so you would be best served to book very well advance. The equestrian campsites are also workable. KPPSP is very remote, the nearest gas station is about 35min drive in Sebring. There is a small country store about 15 min outside the park but it’s best to bring everything you’ll need with you.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Location: 33100 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, FL 34141
Bortle Scale: 2
Big Cypress National Preserve located in the Everglades is a incredible place to visit. The scenery there is stunning & it’s teaming with wildlife. Campsites there do not tend to offer power hookups, so charge up your batteries & bring your bug spray. There is a ever growing light dome to the east from Miami & another to the west from Naples, but nevertheless it’s some of the darkest sky to be found in the state.