Nelson County is celebrating its Dark Skies from June 21 through December 31, 2022. We encourage residents and visitors to tap into their inner astronomer and admire the breathtaking views of these stargazing destinations.

Leave your flashlights behind and look for constellations, wish on a shooting star, and dream of the mysteries that lie beyond the Milky Way. Local hospitality businesses are creating and promoting places and events that preserve and protect our Dark Skies, such as specials, packages and events for viewing astronomical wonders.

Dark Skies Events and Packages

DARK MATTER BEER at WILD MAN DANS
Stop by WildManDan’s Brewery and check out their Dark Matter Black IPA.

STARGAZING EXPERIENCE at LOVE RIDGE MOUNTAIN LODGING
Borrow our stargazing kit including special binoculars, star map, star guide and flashlight to take in the night skies for an evening of family fun.

DARK SKIES AT GLENTHORNE CARRIAGE HOUSE
Cuddle up in a double hammock or Adirondack chair around a private fire-pit outfitted with a s’mores basket. And channel your inner astronomer by gazing at the stars through our Celestron AZ Refractor Telescope, all part of our Dark Skies Package.

DARK SKIES DARK PINTS AT THE BARREL HOUSE
Wednesdays | 6 to 8pm
All dark beers only $3!

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November 17, 2022 – January 8, 2023

Veritas Vineyard & Winery

Be transported to a winter wonderland… This festive season, the grove and vines of Veritas Winery will come alive, sparkling with holiday lights and decorations. Experience a spectacular walk through the enchanting woods and venture into the vineyard, twinkling with lights.

Veritas Illuminated is a ¼ mile walking path that begins at the pergola near the entrance of the Tasting Room. Winding through the woods and among the vines, the lighted path is an immersive experience from the tops of the towering trees to the forest floor under your feet.

Book your experience now

December 16 (rain/cloudy date December 17) | 8:30pm

Rockfish Valley Community Center

Join local area amateur astronomers and their powerful telescopes in celebrating the dark skies of Nelson County at the second of our seasonal Star Parties! Enjoy a laser tour of the night sky, as well as observing of galaxies, globular clusters and the beautiful star fields of the Milky Way, all beginning with an indoor presentation taking place in Rockfish University at 8:30 pm. Coffee from Trager Brothers Coffee will be available. Dress warmly, bring a lawn chair, and stay as long as you’d like!

RSVP opportunity will be available closer to the event date. This and all future observing programs will be free to the general public, but any donations are welcome in order to support the RVCC’s continuing education programs.

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observing-windows-astronomy

An observing window is defined as a period of time (allowing for observing conditions) that provides at least 1 and 1/2 hours of observing after astronomical twilight, which occurs one and one half hours after sunset, and which takes place when the Moon provides less than 25% illumination.

Observing sessions or activities should take place only when clear, mostly clear or a few clouds from time to time are forecast, based on both the National Weather Service and the Clear Sky Clock. Because of these variables, scheduled observing sessions or activities should be planned with a rain date in mind, which should be announced no later than 6:00 pm on the day prior to an event.

  1. Visit the Charlottesville Astronomical Society Website
  2. Go to the Sky Conditions drop-down menu and choose the Clear Sky Clock for the Observatory on Fan Mountain – a tool used by amateur astronomers for a two-day look-ahead at upcoming observing conditions. It can be a bit on the conservative side but can be useful for re-scheduling an event or activity, if necessary. Then use the Weather Forecast tool in conjunction with the Clear Sky Clock.

Nautical Twilight (an hour after sunset): Observing the planets and brighter objects, plus satellites

Astronomical Twilight (an hour and a half after sunset): Nelson’s dark skies make their appearance, with the caveats mentioned above.

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August 17 –  31
September 15 – 29
October 14 – 29
November 10 – 27
December 10 – 26

resources-for-stargazers
educational space videos