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Friends of JGAP,
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:
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. Parking is full for that program, but visitors will be permitted (this one night only) to park in the Whispering Cave parking area 1/4 mile to the east of JGAP’s entrance. There will be a shuttle bus. The program begins at 8:30 (for visitors). Please plan to arrive early to make time for the shuttle.
— 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.
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.
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.
In spring and early summer evenings we northern hemisphere Earthlings look out of the “top” of the Milky-Way, away from the great clouds that block our view of the intergalactic realms beyond.
When these skies are clear, they are filled with hundreds of galaxies within reach of a modest amateur telescope- each one an enormous “island universe” of hundreds of billions of stars.
The image above is of the one the relatively nearby galaxies, Messier 51- a great spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici (near the “handle” of the Big Dipper.)
M51 is going through a furious bout of star formation owing to its collision with another, smaller, galaxy. Because of this, its spiral structure is more easily seen through large telescopes.
02. Here comes the Sun!
On the first day of summer, June 21, JGAP is celebrating its one year anniversary with a program we’re calling “Here Comes the Sun”.
At this program, we will have a group of guitarists performing the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” at (somewhat ironically) sunset on the first day of Summer.
All parking passes (for parking at JGAP are taken.)
However, those who still wish to visit will be allowed to park (this one night only) at the Whispering Cave parking lot, 1/4 mile to the east of the JGAP entrance.
Parkers will be shuttled to the site.
The program begins at 8:30. Please plan to arrive early to give time for the shuttle to get you over to the site.
03. Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
On July 20, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
From mid-afternoon, until after midnight, we will re-live the event exactly 50 years after it happened.
04. The big dipper dumps on us
If you look up on early evenings in late spring and early summer, you will see, high overhead, the Big Dipper, one of the most recognizable star patterns (“asterisms”) in the sky.
You’ll notice, however, that it is upside down!
The Dipper, like the rest of the sky, revolves around a point called the North Celestial Pole. At this time of the year it is above the NCP.
A good way to remember this orientation is to imagine the Dipper filled with rainwater, dumping itself upon us and producing the heavy spring rains we experience in Ohio.
We thank our sponsors for our grand opening- which took place on June 21!
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
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!