one of my favorite places is trestle off of rider's switch, or just up the road from the trestle at that big open clearing where high crossing is. Another great spot is the end of seven bridge road in tuckerton.
Belleplain State Forest, which might not be in the pine barrens proper, but there's plenty of pine there -- promise! -- offers the darkest skies in the state. I suppose if one was serious about wanting to see as much as possible in the night sky (using naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope), it would be worth the trip there. The South Jersey Astronomy Club offers public skywatches here (http://www.sjac.us/skywatch.html ... their next is a few weeks away); several members bring quality telescopes to these and I can't recommend enough attending one of the club's events. These are especially great for kids. (It was a view of Saturn through a telescope at an impressionable young age which motivated my life-long love of stargazing.) Later in April (and also mentioned at the linked-above website) is the astronomy club's annual weekend-long Star Party, when both members and the general public set up and camp in a field in BSP and have a great time.
I just received an e-mail from the International Dark-Sky Association, which was formed many years ago to help and fight in keeping our sky free from invading light pollution, preserving our view of the stars. Here is a copy of this mail, in case anybody is curious to hear what they are about:
The International Dark-Sky Association is proud to announce the establishment of a new office in Washington, DC, USA. The satellite office creates an immediate presence in standards-making organizations and Congress while generating increased opportunities for light pollution education and promoting preservation of the night sky. Officially opened 2 March, 2009 as a public policy adjunct to IDA headquarters in Tucson, AZ, the IDA DC office offers sustained contact with key policymakers and international non-governmental organizations.
Capitalizing on a fresh administration, a worldwide interest in sustainable energy use, and rapidly changing lighting technology, IDA's arrival inside the Beltway is timed for maximum impact. IDA's known expertise promises to make the DC office a hub of influence in policy, education, and future research on lighting. Plans to hold additional educational briefings to both houses of Congress are already underway. Immediate goals are to meet with government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss lighting research and public education. Contacts with the Department of Energy to integrate outdoor lighting policy into energy efficiency strategies currently under evaluation are also being made. The DC office will be working closely with the National Park Service to promote new standards for outdoor lighting in parks to increase energy efficiency, reduce light pollution, and help to maintain the wilderness experience.
Bob Parks, director of the DC office, intends to pursue outreach opportunities with independent non-profit associations as well as with federal organizations and industry groups. Mr. Parks has had continuous experience collaborating with groups and policymakers since founding the Virginia Outdoor Lighting Taskforce in 2000.
IDA has had a presence in DC under IDA member Milt Roney since late 2007. Mr. Roney continues his involvement as the associate director for the DC office, bringing a lifetime of civil service to the playing field. The IDA managing director, Pete Strasser, looks forward to working with the DC team, saying, "The DC office opens IDA to unprecedented networking opportunities. A presence in Washington will create a constant voice in favor of sensible outdoor lighting, and I look forward to tangible results under their leadership."
It's good to see the IDA has opened an office in DC. I saw the night sky uninhibited by any man-made light while in the desert in Arizona years back (never to forget). I joined the IDA immediately upon returning home.
Not in the Pines proper, Berkeley Island County Park at the intersection of Cedar Creek and Barnegat Bay. Gates close at dusk, but you can get around that Had fantastic views of the space shuttle and ISS last evening.
Problem with water areas is they get fogged or misted in. The ocean beach areas especially are prone to mists from the surf as well. Gravel pits are good but hard to find a large one far from the light pollution. South Jersey Astonomy Club has info @ http://www.sjac.us/index.html They have "star parties" at Belleplain forest in Woodbine a few times a year. You can look at many deep space objects, as thier members allow the public to look through thier telescopes. A great place to look on your own too. I understand they have one scheduled for a weekend in mid April.