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41. Stargazing in Virginia’s Dark Sky Parks with Jayme Hanzak, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society

“As I stared at the cloud, I realized it wasn’t really a cloud. Those were all stars. It was very humbling for a 12-year-old to be looking up at the Milky Way. It really set me back on my feet to realize how small I was on this planet, and how little our planet was compared to all those stars up in the sky.” – Jayme Hanzak, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society

When was the last time you looked up at the night sky? There are few experiences quite like stargazing that can help us realize our place in the vast and brilliant universe. Virginia is home to five officially designated dark sky parks where stargazing is exceptional, and the night sky is protected for generations to come. Jayme Hanzak, of the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society, describes the important role dark skies play in human health and the health of our planet. Jayme also shares night sky viewing opportunities across Virginia, including the semiannual Star Party at Staunton River State Park that attracts stargazers from the entire east coast and beyond. Get ready to experience a state park after dark. Let’s Go!

*Cover Image by Larry W. Brown

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VAOA Podcast is Sponsored By:

·       Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources I DWR Shop

·       Breaks Interstate Park

·       Visit Mecklenburg

·       Virginia Association for Parks

·       Virginia State Parks


·       Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine

Mentioned in this Episode:
Staunton River State Park

Virginia State Parks’ International Dark Sky Parks

Rappahannock County Park

International Dark Skies Association

Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Sky Meadows State Park

Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society, Natural Bridge State Park

Crewe Astronomy Club, James River State Park

Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure

Astronomy Clubs in Virginia

Planetariums in Virginia

Observatories in Virginia