SPY HILL Research

Poughkeepsie, New York [DIR] [UP]
Astronomical Dawn:
03:19 EDT
Civil Dawn:
04:51 EDT
05:22 EDT

Astronomy at
Lake Taghkanic State Park

Columbia County, New York

As of Sunday, 26-May-2024 20:21:06 EDT

20:21 EDT
Civil Dusk:
20:52 EDT
Astronomical Dusk:
22:24 EDT

Clear Sky Chart


for LTSP
NWS Forecast
for LTSP

Ancram, NY
Current Conditions

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 license number, make, and model 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, and is a condition of our stargazing permit.

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
Jun 7 2024 8:30 PM 21:02 EDT
Jul 5 2024 8:30 PM 21:07 EDT
Aug 2 2024 8:00 PM 20:43 EDT
Aug 30 2024 7:30 PM 20:00 EDT
Sep 27 2024 6:30 PM 19:10 EDT
Nov 1 2024 5:30 PM 18:17 EDT
Nov 29 2024 4:30 PM 16:55 EST
Dec 27 2024 4:30 PM 17:01 EST
Jan 24 2025 5:00 PM 17:29 EST

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.

If you arrive after dark, please dim your lights and try to drive and park so that your lights won't be pointed at the telescopes. The same applies when leaving. We are in a big parking lot, so you should be able to arrange your turns so that your car's lights never point toward the crowd.

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, but even one is helpful. 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.

Also, please avoid flash photography whenever possible.


MHAA Star Party
Etiquette Guide
Sunrise/ Sunset
Ancram, NY
Clear Sky Chart
Lake Taghkanic State Park
from ClearDarkSky.com

Mobile Apps





Sky Safari

Pocket Universe


View Astrospheric for LTSP on the web...
Get the Astrospheric App for iOS or Android

Local Astronomy Resources

Mid-Hudson Astronomical
Association (MHAA)
SUNY New Paltz
John R. Kirk Planetarium

SUNY New Paltz
Smolen Observatory

View the ISS

The park is a wonderful place to watch the International Space Station (ISS) pass over. The dates, times, and directions are given by several websites.
From N2YO.com:
From Heavens Above
ISS Passes for
Lake Taghkanic State Park
from Heavens Above
From Spot The Station from NASA: 
Spot the Station
from NASA


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.


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.

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