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Ohio Opens John Glenn Astronomy Park In Honor Of The Former Astronaut

Jul 02, 2018 08:36 PM EDT
John Glenn
Skywatching enthusiasts find a new favorite spot at the John Glenn Astronomy Park, which Ohio named after an iconic astronaut, the late John Glenn. The park features 12 powerful telescopes and perfect conditions for stargazing.
(Photo : NASA)

The John Glenn Astronomy Park in Southeast Ohio has now opened its doors, inviting astronomy enthusiasts to visit the new park named after an American icon.

The new park, located in Hocking Hills, is named after the legendary John Glenn, who is a former senator and the first ever American to orbit the Earth.

According to CNBC, the spaceman had given his namesake park his blessing just before he died at the age of 95 in December 2016. Last June 21, the John Glenn Astronomy Park finally opened to the public.

John Glenn Astronomy Park

With 10 acres of forest area surrounding it, the park is in the perfect place for skywatching. There's no light pollution, so the skies are clear and the heavenly bodies are bright.

"The sky is glorious here," Brad Hoehne, the park director, explains why the Hocking Hills is a great spot for an astronomy park. "There aren't too many places left where you can go and see the night sky in a pristine state."

The organization Friends of the Hocking Hills State Park raised money and oversaw the development of the park in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Julieann Burroughs, president of the organization, explains that the park offers the state's residents something new to do at night. Furthermore, it could inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts to follow in Glenn's illustrious footsteps.

Must-See Attractions 

One of the features in the 4-acre astronomy park is an observatory with a retractable roof. Inside are 12 telescopes that can be used to peer at the stars at night.

At the heart of the park is a circular solar plaza that is 8 feet in diameter. A low wall surrounds the plaza with slots that frame the sun during the winter and summer solstices, as well as the spring and fall equinoxes. There's also a sundial that visitors can use to track time.

The John Glenn Astronomy Park offers free entry to everyone, plus cool upcoming events such as meteor shower viewing parties, equinox events, and many more. For now, nighttime events are limited to Friday and Saturday nights. Camping is not permitted, but the park is open 24 hours a day, every day.

A Worthy Legacy

"The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math, and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel," Glenn once said as the spokesperson for National Space Day in 2000.

With his namesake park, his home state is making sure his lifelong passion is passed on to the next generation.

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