May 30, 2017

Week 3: Going Wireless in the Woods

A properly ring’d Jupiter at the Wetherbee Planetarium in Albany, Georgia. Photo by Author.

Summer’s here and our thoughts have turned northward. Our first full week of Dark Skies 2014 has seen us traverse the great state of Florida into the wilds of western Georgia. And never fear… we’re just entering dark sky territory now.

First up was the Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive. Newly refurbished, the Wyndham is favorably located a short shuttle ride from Universal Studios. And while International Drive isn’t known for its dark skies, we did manage to catch a pass of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, thanks to Orlando’s 29 degree north latitude location.

Next up was Albany, Georgia. We set up base camp at the Merry Acres Inn to explore the local surroundings. Downtown Albany has lots to offer the science tourist, including the Thronateeska Heritage Center and the Wetherbee planetarium featuring a new state of the art projector installed in 2008 and historic Radium Springs located just outside of town. And don’t miss the Chehaw Animal Park Zoo, one of the only zoos in the world that has its animals open in natural enclosures.

A Tardis sighting in Macon, Georgia…

Northward, we headed towards to college town of Macon, Georgia and the charming old 1842 Inn. Southern Rock music was born here, and to tour the Allman Brothers Band museum at the Big House is to get a fascinating look at rock history. One of the hottest lunch stops in town is Francar’s Buffalo Wings on the corner of Montpelier Avenue and Ash Street.  You can order your wings in ascending order of scorching from 1 to 4, though we were also informed that an unlisted “Level 5” does exist that’s available through referral only (tell Francar that Astroguyz sent you). And to whet your whistle, head to the Downtown Grill in Macon for a mint julep that doesn’t scrimp on the bourbon.

The last few days have seen us cooling our heels in and around Dahlonega, Georgia. Lovers of precious metals and numismatics won’t want to miss the Gold Museum or try their hand panning for the real thing at the Crisson Gold Mine, located on the site of the real deal. And for lunch, don’t miss the bisque at the Corkscrew Cafe.

Panning for gemstones at Crisson’s…

And, as I write this, we’ve just landed at the Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen, Georgia. Located in the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, northern Georgia is a haven for fly-fishers, campers, and stargazers. We were planning on hitting Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia for some legendary dark skies, until we were advised that early June is yellow fly season and not the best time to camp… and did you know: not only is Dahlonega home to the North Georgia Observatory on the University of North Georgia campus, but there’s also a dark sky village named Deerlick near the town of Sharon, Georgia?

But now it’s time to hope for clear skies, against the usual east coast trend.  With any luck, we’ll have some shots taken under dark skies soon!

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  1. [...] of Macon, which was our final press stop for the 2014 tour. Fans of this site will remember our passage through the town of Macon earlier this year. But beyond just the southern rock music scene, Macon has lots to offer, [...]

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