John Glenn Astronomy Park
 
 
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Get up-to-date information and astronomical news on our Facebook page

 

Welcome back!

Friends of JGAP,

On March 1, 2019 JGAP will begin its first full season of programs.   I anticipate  that this year will enjoy the many of the same successes as last year, with a few additions and surprises.  

Here’s the lowdown:

From March 1 though November 9, 2019, we will be hosting programs on clear Friday and Saturday nights.    We will be scheduling the programs and opening up the parking reservation spots two months in advance. As always, programs will begin on the half hour nearest sunset.     If you’re not sure when this is, the JGAP Facebook page has the times listed in the “Events” section. 

Our programs are free, but we have limited parking.  Please make a reservation on our parking reservation system at:

http://registration.jgap.org/

This year we have two special events planned, one to mark the one year anniversary of our opening and one to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The first, which we are calling “Here Comes the Sun” will feature 24 guitarists playing the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” at sunset on the longest day of the year. 

At the second, we will recount, minute by minute, the events of the Apollo 11 landing, exactly 50 years after they happened.

I am thrilled by what is to come, and I hope to see you at the astronomy Park

Thanks for your time and thanks for visiting JGAP!

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.


Mission

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.       

News

01. THe Pleiades

Image by Brad Hoehne

Image by Brad Hoehne

Perhaps you catch it out of the corner of your eye on a clear dark night. Then, you stare at it and it seems to disappear. This little star cluster, the Pleiades, look different depending on how we look at it.

Rising in the east on fall evenings, this star cluster seems, to most folks, to have six or seven stars (depending on how good the eyesight of the person doing the looking.)

Look askance (not directly at it), however, and it may grow in brightness. This is because the center of our retina (the lining of cells in our eye that sense light) is not the most light sensitive at the middle of our vision. A bit away from the middle of our view, in our slight peripheral vision, our eyes gather light very well.

When astronomers avoid looking directly at an object to see it better, it’s called using averted vision. Try it!


02. Winter Skies

Clusters M46 and M47. Image by Brad Hoehne

Clusters M46 and M47. Image by Brad Hoehne

On the rare winter evenings when the skies are dark and clear, the stars seem brighter.

And, indeed, they are.

The winter sky has more bright stars than the summer sky.

Our solar system inhabits the inner edge of a small offshoot of a spiral arm in our Milky-Way called the Orion Spur. As we look out in wintertime, we look into a relatively close patch of stars.

Within this region are a collection of intrinsically bright stars: Betelgeuse, Rigel, Procyon, Capella, and Aldeberan. Joining them is the not-quite-as-bright, but close, Sirius, the brightest appearing star in the night sky.

Enjoy the view!

03. Andromeda up high

Image by Brad Hoehne

Image by Brad Hoehne

High overhead on fall and early winter evenings is the most distant object you can (easily) see with the naked eye: The Andromeda Galaxy.

Looking like a blurry grain of rice in the constellation andromeda, the photons of light you see when you catch a glimpse of this, left for Earth at time when the height of proto-human technology was banging two rocks together to form a sharp edge. (More precisely: over 2.5 million years ago.)

If you have a pair of binoculars, this distant island universe, larger than our own Milky-Way, looks great in binoculars.

04. Orion: The Great Hunter

Illustration: Brad Hoehne

Illustration: Brad Hoehne

The most recognizable constellation in the winter sky is Orion, the Great Hunter.

The tall rectangle of four stars, crossed at the middle by a short line of three, equally bright, ones, is immediately recognizable, even under city lights.

Throughout much of the constellation is an enormous, mostly invisible to the naked eye, cloud of gas and dust called the Orion Molecular Cloud 1 (OMC-1).

Its presence can be seen through telescopes and binoculars.

In few places, this cloud has collapsed under the force of gravity, leading to the formation of stellar nurseries, where new stars are born. In these places, new stars shine, illuminating the gas and dust of OMC-1 like fireflies glowing on the leaves of a dark bush.

If you have a pair of binoculars, point them at the “sword” of Orion, which hangs below the “belt” of thee stars.

There you will see the most striking example of a stellar nursery, the Orion Nebula.


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

 
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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!