A research scientist at the College of William & Mary’s Institute for the Theory & Practice of International Relations, Stephen (Steve) Shellman also serves as the CEO and president of Strategic Analysis Enterprises, Inc. Previously, Steve Shellman taught classes in comparative politics as an instructor at the University of Costa Rica.

Volcano enthusiasts visiting Costa Rica will not want to miss Arenal Volcano National Park in Alajuela. Located around three and a half hours from the nearest airport in San Jose, this stratovolcano site also offers several nearby hot springs, heated by the volcano’s geothermal activity. Also nearby is Arenal Lake, which provides almost half of the country’s hydroelectric power.

Arenal Volcano National Park itself includes two volcanoes, the one for which the park is named and the Chato Volcano, whose crater is now collapsed. Arenal Volcano, thought to be dormant, erupted in 1968 and then became one of the country’s most active volcanoes as it sent out blocks of cinder and flowing lava for the 42 years. The volcano remains on the list of active volcanoes, although no recorded eruptions have taken place since December of 2010.


Stephen “Steve” Shellman serves as the CEO and chief scientist at Strategic Analysis Enterprise, a national decision-support solutions company headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia. Outside his professional pursuits, Steve Shellman maintains an interest in astronomy and is a member of the Virginia Peninsula Astronomers and Stargazers. Virginia has a number of ideal locations for stargazing – areas of minimal in light pollution. The following rank among some of Virginia’s top stargazing sites.

-Hungry Mother State Park. Named for a Native American legend, Hungry Mother State Park is known for its woodland views and the 108-acre lake nestled in the heart of the surrounding mountains. Lack of light pollution makes the park a good stargazing location, particularly during new moons when the sky is at its darkest.

-Grayson Highlands State Park. Its position between two of Virginia’s highest mountains makes Grayson Highlands another good site for stargazing. The park offers low humidity, hiking trails to overlooks, and alpine-like peaks over 5,000 feet high. It is also a favorite among astronomy and stargazing clubs.

-Shenandoah National Park. Nights at the Shenandoah Park offer skies with approximately 2,500 stars visible to the naked eye. Moonless and cloud-free nights provide an ideal location for stargazing due to the park’s high elevation and distance from urban areas.

-Fairy Stone State Park. The park takes its name from the legendary fairy stones found throughout it, formed of crystalized staurolite that takes the shape of a cross. Organized evening programs are occasionally hosted along the shore of Fairy Stone’s 168-acre lake, where the stars span across the night sky.

-Brooks Haven. Located a short distance away from Grayson Highlands National Park, the Brooks Haven cabin makes for a reclusive escape from civilization with a clear view of the night sky. Its seclusion prevents light pollution and creates an ideal site for stargazing.