John Glenn Astronomy Park

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Summer Programs!

The John Glenn Astronomy Park will have evening programs on Friday and Saturday beginning at sunset throughout the summer.   On Saturdays, we will be having a daytime programs focusing on the sun starting at 5:00 p.m.

If the weather is clear, we will be opening the roof and looking at Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon (if it is out) and,  in late August, Mars!    If the moon is not in the sky, views of celestial wonders beyond the solar system- star clusters, nebulae, galaxies- will be featured.

Come out, enjoy the views and enjoy our unique plaza.    

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.


The John Glenn Astronomy Park is dedicated to sparking an interest in science, learning, and exploration by sharing with visitors the wonders of the sky, both day and night.   

The Inspiration

Throughout most of history, humans have been inspired by the wondrous sight of a night sky filled with stars.  Our stories and mythologies have been mapped upon the patterns of the stars.   Our calendars, festivals, and agriculture have been linked to the movement of the heavens.  In recent times, a view of the night sky has been the inspiration in many young people for lifelong passion for science in general.

Sadly, however, the lights of our modern world have, in recent decades, put our view of the heavens behind a veil of artificial light.   Most of us live under a sky that gives only a pale, washed out hint of its former beauty.

An astronomy park in the Hocking Hills State park was inspired by our vanishing night sky.   The Hocking Hills, in rural southeastern Ohio, is one of the few areas left in the state of Ohio where the night sky can be seen in its near pristine state.   The observatory will provide a venue for visitors to the Hocking Hills State park to experience the night sky through a large telescope and with their eyes.

The observatory also draws on the countless generations of humans who marked the important changes of the seasons through the motion of the sun and who built great structures, like Stonehenge in England,  the Chaco Canyon Kiva in New Mexico or many Hopewell and Fort Ancient Earthworks in Ohio, that commemorated these days.  The plaza has been designed to allow the rays of the sun to fall upon a special central point on the first day of each of the four seasons.       


01. Jupiter Returns

 Image by Joe Renzetti

Image by Joe Renzetti

The largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter, has returned to the evening sky.

As of this writing, Jupiter peeks over the eastern horizon an hour or so before midnight.  It appears as a bright "star" to the the naked eye.

As spring turns into summer, however, Jupiter rises earlier and earlier, making it an ever better target for those who like to stargaze in the evening hours.

Through binoculars, eagle-eyed observers might the four Galilean Moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Though a telescope, the Jupiter over 1300 times the volume of Earth, reveals its complex weather patterns.

Through JGAP's telescopes, the Great Red Spot, a storm twice the size of Earth that has persisted for at least the last 400 years, will be visible.   

02. It Works!

 Image  by Brad Hoehne

Image  by Brad Hoehne

The John Glenn astronomy park has a sphere at its heart that represents the Earth.  

By gazing through a small window in the axis of this sphere, you can see the top of the nearby flagpole mark the point in the sky which all the stars seem to revolve around- the North Celestial Pole.

This image shows the this alignment.

Click here for a video tour of the site, made on April 7.

Watch this space for more updates.!

03. Venus in the Evening Sky

 Image by Brad Hoehne

Image by Brad Hoehne

That bright "star" you see in the west in the early evening hours is not a star, but the planet Venus.   

Roughly the same size as Earth, and about 7/10ths the distance to the sun, one would expect that our sister world would be rather similar.

It is anything but.

The surface of Venus is, as Carl Sagan put it, the one place in our solar system most like our conception of hell.

With a Carbon Dioxide atmosphere over 90 times thicker than ours, Venus holds fast onto the sunlight energy that falls upon it allowing temperatures to build up.    Though it is nearly twice the distance form the sun as Mercury, and receives a quarter of the sunlight, it is nearly 100 degrees hotter- indeed, hotter by far than the hottest household oven.   

The few spacecraft that have landed on Venus survived for only a few hours before being baked into malfunctioning then slowly dissolved into oblivion by the sulfuric acid vapor in the atmosphere.

Be grateful that we over two hundred million km away as of this writing.  

04. 2018: The Year of Mars!

 Image of Mars by Brad Hoehne

Image of Mars by Brad Hoehne

2018 will be, for amateur astronomers at least, "The Year of Mars!" as the Red Planet will put on its best show since 2003.

The best views will be in late July and Early August, 2018.  The John Glenn Astronomy Park  will be sharing views of this tiny world through its telescopes.


We thank our sponsors for our grand opening- which took place on June 21!

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Our other sponsors

The John Glenn Astronomy Park is proud to promote Astrotours.   

Discover the ancient skies of Atacama with astrophysicist Paul Matt Sutter. Explore alien terrain by day and marvel at our universe at night. Reflect on it all while staying at a luxurious resort. An experience that will change you forever.

Astrotours will make a donation to JGAP for every Adventure booked through this link.  


“The greatest thing we can do is inspire young minds...”

- John Glenn

 John Glenn's offical portait prior to his 1998 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA

John Glenn's offical portait prior to his 1998 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA


About John Glenn

John Glenn was a decorated Military Pilot, a US Senator, and, most famously, the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.

John Glenn was born in 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio and was raised in the small town of New Concord, home of Muskingum University where he attended college.   He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps soon after the US entered World War II.   He was a highly decorated pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, as well, and few over 90 missions. 

After the war, he became a test pilot and developed a reputation as an outstanding aviator.  On July 16, 1957, in a mission dubbed “Project Bullet”, Glenn set the nation’s transcontinental flight speed record.  It was this experience that the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration cited when choosing him as one of the Mercury 7, the first American Astronauts.   During the Korean War, Glenn would fly combat missions with Red Sox great Ted Williams.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn was launched into space atop a Mercury  Atlas rocket, a vehicle that had experienced several catastrophic failures prior to this mission, and orbited the earth three times during a mission that lasted 4 hours and 55 minutes.  Towards the end of the flight, a failure in the automatic-control system of his Mercury Capsule, Friendship 7, required him to take the controls and fly manually.  This was the first time this had been done.   The landing was successful, and Glenn returned a national hero. On March 1, 1962, Glenn was welcomed home by millions at a ticker tape parade in his honor in New York City.

After retiring from NASA, Glenn entered and made three attempts to run for the US Senate- succeeding on his third try.   During his senate career he was considered an expert in science and technology and on military matters.   Glenn’s advocacy for the reduction of nuclear weapons culminated in the passage of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, which was signed into law by President Carter. In 1984, Glenn sought the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination.  

Glenn served in the Senate until his retirement in December 1998.    That same year, it was announced that he would be returning to space on board the space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-95 crew.   Serving as Payload Specialist, Glenn began his second flight on October 29, 1998, making him the oldest person to fly in space.

In 2015 John Glenn gave his permission to use his name on the Observatory Park project being planned by the Friends of the Hocking Hills. 

Glenn died on December 8, 2016 at the OSU Wexner Medical Center.   

We hope to see his legacy of exploration and inspiration continue!