John Glenn Astronomy Park

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Please Reserve a Parking Spot

Friends of JGAP,

If you have visited over the last few days, you may have noticed a new "reservation" system that we have placed on the site.  We will now require visitors to reserve a parking space during our regular Friday and Saturday night programs.

You can access the reservation system directly by following this link:

Why are we doing this?   Folks have loved our programs so much that we have run out of room for your cars! A few recent programs we have had to turn people away for lack of room. This overwhelming response has required us to retool things somewhat.

Even though we will be limiting the number of cars, we will not be limiting the number of people at our programs. If you are one of acts who can fit 20 folks into a VW Beetle, great!

In addition, we beg you not to make the dangerous (and illegal) decision to park along route 664. Please do not do this.

Thanks for your time and thanks for visiting JGAP!

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. The Marvelous Milky-Way

 Image by Brad Hoehne

Image by Brad Hoehne

On a clear, moonless, Summer or Fall night one of the most glorious things one can see is the diaphanous glowing light of our own home galaxy.

This is the combined light of hundreds of billions of stars arranged in a flat “pancake” shape.

We see that pancake from within as a band of light that arches across the sky

The brightest portions of our milky-way, the part that runs through the constellations Cygnus, Aquilla, Scutum and Sagittarius, lingers in the evening sky until November.

After that, it catches up to the sunset- to return to the evening skies only in June of the following year.

02. The Fall Equinox

 Image by Brad Hoehne

Image by Brad Hoehne

On the weekend of September 21 and 22, JGAP will be celebrating the fall equinox- the day when the moon rises due east, sets due west, and the day and night are of (almost) equal length.

Indeed, equinox means “equal night” in Latin.

On the September 22, the sun will rise through our “Equinox gap” in our plaza, and light will strike our “Earth sphere”.

03. Stunning Saturn

 Image by Joe Renzetti

Image by Joe Renzetti

Nestled in the heart of the milky-way (by which I mean “in front of”) the planet Saturn appears to the naked eye to be ordinary, moderately bright, “star”.

But, point a telescope at it and to blooms into one of the most glorious worlds in the sky.

With its literally otherworldly rings, Saturn is a memorable sight through a telescope. Indeed, it is so otherworldly and strange, that a common reaction to folks seeing it for the first time in a telescope is to not believe that what they are seeing is real!

But it is real and can easily be seen in September through an average amateur telescope, like the ones that our volunteers bring to JGAP.

04. 2018: The Year of Mars!

 Image of Mars by Brad Hoehne

Image of Mars by Brad Hoehne

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

Thought the best views of Mars this year were in July and Early August, 2018, Mars remains bright and easily seen in the evening sky.


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!