SPY HILL Research

Poughkeepsie, New York [DIR] [UP]
Astronomical Dawn:
05:28 EST
Civil Dawn:
06:36 EST
07:08 EST

Astronomy at
Lake Taghkanic State Park

Columbia County, New York

As of Tuesday, 05-Dec-2023 13:49:08 EST

16:23 EST
Civil Dusk:
16:54 EST
Astronomical Dusk:
18:03 EST

Clear Sky Chart



for LTSP


NWS Forecast
for LTSP


Ancram, NY



Monthly Star Parties

The Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association (MHAA) holds public star parties every month at Lake Taghkanic State Park on the Friday before a new moon (with Saturday as a back-up in case of bad weather). Anyone is welcome to attend, but it is a requirement that participants RSVP in advance and provide the make, model, and license number of the vehicle they will use. This information is given to the Park Police to insure that only authorized visitors are in the park after closing.

You can RSVP for the next star party on the MHAA Meetup page.

Arrival time is close to sunset, but the sky is only just starting to get dark then. The telescope operators like to use this time to set up while they can still see what they are doing. The actual viewing gets better after Civil Dusk. You can show up any time after the arrival time and leave whenever you wish.

Date Arrival
Dec 8 2023 4:30 PM 16:54 EST
Jan 5 2024 4:30 PM 17:09 EST
Feb 9 2024 5:00 PM 17:49 EST
Mar 8 2024 6:00 PM 18:22 EST
Apr 5 2024 7:30 PM 19:54 EDT
May 3 2024 8:00 PM 20:28 EDT
Jun 7 2024 8:30 PM 21:03 EDT
Jul 5 2024 8:30 PM 21:07 EDT
Aug 2 2024 8:00 PM 20:42 EDT

Schedule for the next year

No White Lights, Please

Astronomers prefer dim red lights to white lights, because dim red light helps preserve night vision. This can make all the difference between seeing or not seeing a very faint target.

You can easily convert a flashlight for use at a star party by covering the lens with red tape for repairing automobile tail lights, which you can get at any auto parts store. You will probably need two layers. You can also use red plastic tape, like electrician's tape, and you can even get 2" wide rolls at many hardware stores. One layer should be enough.

If you arrive after dark, please dim your lights and try to park so that your lights won't be pointed at the telescopes.

Also, please avoid flash photography whenever possible.


MHAA Star Party
Etiquette Guide


Sunrise/ Sunset
Ancram, NY


View the ISS

From N2YO.com:
From Heavens Above:

ISS Passes for
Lake Taghkanic State Park
from Heavens Above

Local Astronomy Resources

Mid-Hudson Astronomical
Association (MHAA)

SUNY New Paltz
Smolen Observatory

SUNY New Paltz
John R. Kirk Planetarium

Mobile Apps





Sky Safari

Pocket Universe


AstroHopper is a free and open-source web application (smart web page) written in JavaScript which can use the sensors on your phone (GPS, accelerometers, compass) to help you accurately point a telescope at an object. To use AstroHopper you first need to strap your phone onto your telescope. Then point the telescope at a star or planet you know and press "Align" to calibrate the phone's orientation. You can then enter the name of a nearby target and it will show you how to point the telescope at that target (in other words, you can hop from the known star to the location of the target).   More detailed instructions are available in the AstroHopper Manual. You can "install" it on your phone so that it works even without access to a cellular or wifi network. (For example, on iPhone or using Chrome on Android you just have to "Add to Home Screen".) More information and the source code and development information are available on GitHub.


Stellarium is software which can show you the night sky at any time from any place on the surface of the Earth (and even some planets). It's used in the John R. Kirk Planetarium at SUNY New Paltz, and in other planetariums around the world, but you can also run it on your own computer. It is a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can get Stellarium from http://stellarium.org.

Stellarium can be customized to display a 'landscape' around the horizon, which can help you get oriented and show you what parts of the sky might be blocked by terrain or trees. This screen-shot is an example for Lake Taghkanic:


You can download a custom landscape for Lake Taghkanic State Park and other nearby locations. Installation is straighforward - just follow these easy instructions.

There are also versions of Stellarium for iOS and Android devices (see above). While Stellarium itself is open-source software, these apps are not free; paying for them rewards the developers for porting the software to mobile platforms.

© 2022 Eric Myers (Last revised: 19 November 2023 )