|By Beth Vorhees/WV Public Broadcasting|
Amateur astronomers are seeking nice dark places where they can watch the nighttime sky. They just might find it in Calhoun County.
Saturday night stargazers will set up their equipment in a park near Grantsville to see just how dark it is.
Tim Ezzell is a researcher at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He's leading a team of other UT researchers and officials in Calhoun County to determine if this area is dark enough to become an attractive tourist destination.
"We looked at maps and charts and sure enough Calhoun was about the darkest place left in the Eastern United States," Ezzell explained.
"And one of the things we did before we got too far into this project was we wanted to make sure there was a market for this type of tourism. So we did a brief survey , sent it out to a few astronomers to see what they thought and within days we had three hundred responses."
There is little development in Calhoun County, but Ezzell and his team, which include students from Fairmont State University, see dollars in the darkness.
"Well it's like anything once it becomes scarce it becomes more valuable. And we're find darkness is becoming more and more scarce all over the world," he said.
Amateur astronomers would buy food and lodging and would spend money for a place to stargaze. About 30 stakeholders will spend Saturday night at Calhoun County Park to find out if it is good enough for a dark skies park.