Dark Skies for us Tennessee urbanites

  1. creekindian
    I would like to initiate a discussion as to good locations for seeing the Milky Way in the Volunteer state. I live in Knoxville but all of our urban centers have a large area that wipes out deep sky. The sheer amount of moisture we have here doesn't help in even the most rural parts of Tennessee.
    I assume many or most of you have found a place that is (a) fairly easy to get to and (b) Black, beautiful black.

    My favorite place thus far is Pickett State Park and State Forest. It is actually inconvenient to almost everyone as it is close to the Kentucky border about midway between Knoxville and Nashville. It has about 20,000 acres of forest, their site says and is adjacent to an even larger National Big South Fork recreation area with 120,000 acres. It is already a designated Silver Tier International Dark Sky area and hosts several astronomy events.
  2. creekindian
    Continuation (less than 1000 characters) of previous post
    To get to Pickett from Knoxville you can take I75 north to exit 141 and then drive right through the middle of Big South Fork and turn right onto TN 154 and go a few more miles north. Total distance from Knoxville is about 89 miles, estimated to be less than 2 hours by Google. Much of it is VERY scenic.
    From Nashville it is some further and involves taking I40 to exit 301 and then heading north on TN 62 to US 127. 141 miles from downtown Nashville, 2 hrs 22 min is the Google estimate.

    Comments (and closer places) invited
  3. creekindian
    Got another one, and I have also been there to mountain bike about a decade ago (when I was NOT 70).
    Frozen Head State Park near beautiful downtown Wartburg, TN (no comment on the town's name).
    Frozen Head is the ONLY Tennessee location in EarthSky's Best Places to Stargaze list. It is a mere 41 miles and Google-estimated 54 minutes from my house in uptown Knoxville. It has 24,000 acres of wilderness and already sponsors astronomy events. From Knoxville you take Pellissippi Parkway (I 140) to Oak Ridge where it becomes TN62 which you take through Oliver Springs and on until you can turn off at Flat Fork Road. Take that right to the park.

    It's quite beautiful there, bring your hiking gear or mountain bike and make a day of it.

    Comments invited
  4. creekindian

    Informational handout on the Pickett-Pogue dark sky area available from TN state parks at above link.
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