Astrophotography takes a giant leap forward in the Mountain State

October, 2023

By Jonathan Eggleston for Real WV 

I’m thrilled to share a remarkable development from the Mountain State that embodies the spirit of astrophotographers coming together to inspire, educate, and capture the night sky’s beauty. The West Virginia Astrophotography Association (WVAA), a new nonprofit organization, has recently emerged on the scene, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this journey alongside fellow enthusiasts such as, (President of KVAS) William Brown, Abraham Jones of DIY NASA, Coal miner/nightscape image specialist Dave Green, the “Astro Seabee” Bill Stewart, astrophotographer Jason Young, astrophotographer Brian Hill  and a few other seasoned professionals. Together, we’ve forged the first and only official nonprofit Astrophotography organization on the East Coast.

Abraham Jones and Dave Green have both had their images recognized by NASA through its Astronomy Picture Of the Day Challenge, (better known as, “winning an APOD” ).

At the heart of the WVAA’s mission is the idea that astrophotographers can be a big part of each other’s growth and inspire beginners to take up this incredible art form. The organization is here to support astrophotographers of all levels, and it’s primary focus is on providing online resources and engaging in public outreach.

The online platform will serve as a hub for astrophotographers and interested parties to connect, share tips and tricks, and access valuable information to start or advance their journey in this captivating field. We believe in the power of astrophotographers helping one another to navigate the night sky through photography. You can check out and join the free online discord right now,  where everyone shares daily images,  takes part in weekly photo competitions, collaborates with others on projects, along with many other things. Anyone interested can use the link below to sign up for free .  Follow the instructions and you can be part of this growing community as well! 

While passionate about the online community, WVAA’s commitment extends beyond the digital realm and will organize monthly public star parties for the community, host night-sky workshops, beginner classes, and an annual convention at a dark sky location,  with the first convention taking place in Blackwater Falls State Park, August 2024. (More to come on that.)

These are just a few examples of some advanced go-to telescopes used to capture stunning images of the cosmos along with the 3 Observatories that belong to the KVAS located in Camp Virgil Tate. WVAA, (in Partner with KVAS) will Have access to these observatories as well.

These events offer hands-on opportunities for enthusiasts to learn from seasoned professionals, fostering a sense of camaraderie among the attendees.

Yet, the mission goes beyond astrophotography itself. The organization is also determined to raise awareness about the issue of light pollution and its detrimental effects on our night skies. West Virginia boasts some of the darkest locations on the East Coast, but even here, the encroachment of light pollution poses a threat. WVAA aims to educate the public about this issue and inspire actions to preserve our pristine dark skies.

In West Virginia, we are fortunate to have dark sky parks, such as Blackwater falls, calhoun county park, Spruce knob and designated dark sky areas like Watoga. Stargazers can truly marvel at the cosmos in locations like these.  Living in such an untouched area is a privilege, and WVAA is committed to ensuring it remains that way for future generations.

The color of the stars can be seen very easily from a dark location but many people don’t even realize just how much!

One of the most fulfilling aspects of the organization is introducing people to the Milky Way for the first time. Witnessing their awe and wonder as they gaze upon our galaxy from a dark location for the first time is an experience that truly resonates with our mission.

Beautiful Image captured by Dave Green.

While the official website is still in development, you can stay updated on activities by following the WVAA Facebook page and joining the discord using the links below. 

For more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out via Messenger.

In essence, the West Virginia Astrophotography Association is more than just an organization; it’s a community where astrophotographers help each other flourish and where we extend our reach to inspire newcomers. By nurturing this passion, providing online resources, and engaging in public outreach, WVAA aims to showcase the night skies of West Virginia and kindle a love for the stars in the hearts of all who join us on this cosmic journey. Together, we’ll navigate the universe, one photograph at a time.

Discord Link: https://discord.gg/Xxbg9ujqTA

Social Media Link: (1) Facebook

*This story has been updated for clarity.

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