Renee Scialdo Shevat (holding scissors) commemorates the opening of the Star Catcher Lodge at the Herkimer Diamond KOA. The raised platform in the background is the lunar pod dome. Photo by Nicole Grant, Herkimer Telegram.

The starry skies will never look the same again after a stay at the new Star Catcher Lodge at the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Resort near Herkimer, N.Y.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place May 22 to celebrate the opening of the campground’s newest attraction, the Herkimer Telegram reported.

The lodge’s main feature is an exterior raised deck that holds a high-powered celestron telescope housed in an eight-foot-wide octagon shaped lunar pod dome.

Herkimer Diamond Mines President Renee Scialdo Shevat said the telescope uses GPS technology to take the guesswork and effort out of aligning and finding celestial objects. “It is so advanced,” she said. “Once you turn it on the integrated GPS automatically pinpoints the exact coordinates in the Route 28 sky.”

The stargazing doesn’t just happen at the telescope, but the lodge itself features space exploration in the bedrooms, which illustrate the night sky on the ceiling, and the family room is complete with lifelike photos of planets and stars that can be viewed through the telescope in the night sky.

“The diamond mine resort has made science fun and every year we try to add an additional learning experience. The Star Catcher Lodge offers visitors a unique way to learn about astronomy,” Shevat said.

Intended as a venue for educational use the lodge will feature the educational program “Dancing with the Stars,” offered on Friday and Saturday evenings for schools, scouts, families and campers.

“The astronomy lodge is another piece of the KOA campground to bring people in and it’s certainly an economic engine leading more people to Herkimer County,” said John Scarano, Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“For every dollar spent by campground visitors, seven will be spent in the surrounding area at local stores, gas stations and restaurants. The community is very appreciative of the business. The KOA campground has been part of the Chamber for a long time and it’s great because they always give back to the community,” he added.

Middleville Mayor Craig Fox said he has watched the diamond mine grow for years and is in awe of the amount of success it has had.

“When my daughter was younger she worked as a waitresses at the Crystal Chandelier (adjacent to the campground) and it amazes me how this place has grown. It’s amazing what they have done to continue to grow each and every year,” Fox said.