Below is the current clear sky forecast for the campground, please click on it to see our forecast viewing conditions;
We do a weekly stargazing WEATHER PERMITTING and with PROPER INTEREST, this means clear skies, not 10,20 or 30% covered. There is nothing more frustrating to an astronomer than rolling cloud cover or high cloud cover, it ruins viewing and causes unneeded wear because of constant slewing of the equipment to targets! If you are coming to stargaze you must note that at the time of your reservation that you are coming for stargazing, 40 people just showing up with the assumption they will get to stargaze is not going to happen. We can accommodate those numbers but must know in advance. To accommodate those numbers requires a couple of hours set up time, and when you check in at 6pm and announce you want to stargaze when we have had no interest shown in the previous days or notes with reservations, we WILL NOT BE planning on doing a session, we have not eaten our dinner, no help has been scheduled on duty. We can not guarantee stargazing as we can not control the weather, but we can guarantee ability to stargaze with the proper weather conditions present and if line of communication is kept and planning can occur. Please understand when we can not get out on a Saturday we are just as disappointed as you, and when we have many people waiting that we were unaware of it is also a disappointment that we could not provide the service. We will make a decision on stargazing weather by 7:00pm on Friday and Saturday, if it is cloudy we will not set up even if it clears after that due to the time it takes. Regards Dale H.
Our permanent combination star gazing and star party field opened 12/25/18, it is a unique addition for all astronomers and has some unique features. Tent sites on the South side so you can drive up, park, stay in view of your gear and leave it set up are open. We are also planning on installing 10 full hookup RV sites on the North Side. We have a small pavilion and fire pit installed on the North West corner.
We have brought in the first of 4 new SkyPod Observatories, these observatories will be for astronomers visiting the campground to rent so they will have a protected observing area for their own equipment. We will be installing a SkyPod Max to house our own equipment for Saturday stargazing nights and astrophotography. The max will be the center hub and 4 spokes will be installed going out from it all concrete, on the end of each spoke will be the pod, half way down each spoke will be 2 concrete pads for open setups. Once completed clubs will have a unique dark sky area to set up and view. In the near future we will be providing Dobsonian Telescope rentals so you may gaze at your convenience from these platforms.
Pastimes is providing weekly Stargazing on Saturday nights for our Guests as well as the Public. Our facilities are also available for Star Parties and Outreach events (call the Office to schedule your event now). As many may know we are located in one of the darkest sky areas in the Southeast ( little unnatural light pollution), we have decided that we would love to share one of the age old hobbies and offer an introduction to star gazing on Saturday night’s. With the dark skies in this beautiful part of GA it makes it possible, for all to gaze towards the stars and dream like so many other countless generations before have done. Admission for the approx 1-1/2hr is $5 per person to help offset the many thousands of dollars we have invested in the equipment and star facilities, each attendee will be emailed pictures taken at the end of the star gazing session for a permanent memory of what you saw that night courtesy of Pastimes Astrophotography (this is included in your admission charge, at no extra fee). For groups or those with their own equipment please call or email the office for your quote and availability. We are working towards our own dark sky certification and will announce it when it happens. We will be accommodating those who are new to the hobby as well as amateur and professional star gazers, if you are interested in basic Astrophotography please bring your own equipment.
On special event nights we will also be doing special packages of stay, sunset tour of the Okefenokee, Dinner, social and viewing nights to correspond with celestial events, as well as hosting any clubs who would like to use the facility. You will be able to stay in a cabin, your RV or Tent and use the facility, enjoy the peace and quiet here and our other facilities, view the stars at night, recreate during the day as well as visit the Natural wonder the Okefenokee NWR (swamp) and all the other areas in this beautiful place.
If you would like to use the Starfield for Astrophotography and not stay at Pastimes we are in the process of adding access to it without the need of driving through the campground to leave, this will open up the starfield for area photographers. Until then unless you coincide it with a Stargazing night and will be leaving at the end of stargazing we have to say no, as the guests that book to stay here deserve a quiet and peaceful stay while they are here without comings and goings at all hours. There will be a use charge associated with the field of $15 pp per night.
As you can see Stargazing is great from everywhere here in the campground due to dark skies lighting, light pollution control and of course the naturally dark skies area of the Okefenokee area.
A few recent photos from the night of 4/2/19, although seeing conditions were only average I was able to get on a few of Aprils great targets.
This area of the southeastern United States is a black hole in a sea of light pollution. This is the view from the space shuttle as it orbits over the east coast of North America at night.
Look for the black area just above Jacksonville, FL. It is really dramatic when contrasted to the blackness found in a unpopulated Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
The USFWS talks about the Okefenokee having “Quality 1” type air which means it is very clean with minimal pollution. One thing we have always loved about living here at Okefenokee is the night sky that is so clear, dark and open that it closely rivals a sky you may find in the western deserts.
At Okefenokee Pastimes we are out in the countryside here on the edge of Okefenokee. We try to limit our lights and resulting light pollution with automatic timers and on/off switches, dark sky certified lighting on the needed lights. Talk to us about our light situation when you set up your reservation or check in.
We will try to use this page to foster an interest in Astronomy and this favorable location for pursuit of some great stargazing.