Pickett State Park and Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area – Silver-tier International Dark Sky Park
Earlier this year (2015) Pickett / Pogue State Park was named a Silver Tier IDA dark site. I haven’t made it up for a night of astrophotography yet but have been wanting to visit the area and scope it out before lugging all the equipment up there for the first time. On Sunday my wife, the dogs, and I made a visit up to hike the short trail to the Pogue Canyon Overlook. The trail head is connected to the parking lot that adjoins the astronomy field at the Pogue SNA. First off, finding the place wasn’t difficult BUT google maps does not have current satellite imagery from there so I couldn’t pinpoint it easily. The address given didn’t seem to match up with anything in the imagery. So, to make it a little easier, here is an image of the location:
I’ve been interested in Pickett / Pogue for a while since it appears to be one of the darkest places in Tennessee and is located only 1:40 from my home. Here are a few light pollution maps showing where it is in relationship to sources of light pollution:
I also wanted to share a few photos from the site to show you all what to expect when you arrive at the site:
A little bit of side information that might be of interest as it contains SQM measurements, photos, and upcoming event information:
Pickett – Pogue Dark Sky Press Release
Pickett – Pogue Internation Dark Sky Assoc. Application
Picket – Pogue Lighting Plan – Dark Sky Friendly Lighting
Don’t forget, the Fall Star Gaze is happening 9/19/2015 at this location! I’d love to see you there but I’m tied up and can’t make it. Hope to make it out under the stars there another time.
After having driven several hours to visit the astronomy field at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, I feel a caution to other visitors is necessary. This particular field is not a uniquely fantastic place for stargazing. The field itself is about 75 yards off a two lane road (light pollution) with trees slightly obstructing the Western and Northern horizon. There is a house directly across the road from the parking area.
The astronomy field is on the very edge of Picket CCC Memorial State Park. My comments do NOT apply to Picket CCC Memorial State Park or the Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area. The park is beautiful with very dark skies for a wonderful star gazing experience, but this astronomy FIELD should not be construed to possess the same characteristics. The associated parks are listed as certified dark sky viewing locations, not this specific astronomy field. Anyone accustomed to the darkness of a rural sky at home will likely not realize any appreciable benefit.
By all means, this is a wonderful place to visit. Make a trip to the area and enjoy everything the State and National Parks have to offer. My only wish is to give the reader a reasonable understanding of the conditions at the astronomy field.