HOCKING CO., OH (FOX19) - Astronomy fanatics are awaiting the grand opening of the new John Glenn Astronomy Park that will coincide with this year's summer solstice.
The new park is in southeast Ohio in the secluded woods of the Hocking Hills State Park that is known for its lack of light pollution resulting in a clear view of the night sky, according to the Friends of Hocking Hills State Park.
The John Glenn Astronomy Park Grand Opening is set for Thursday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and viewing the sunset through the summer solstice aperture in the park's Solar Plaza. The park's team will then focus its powerful telescopes toward the moon and Jupiter.
Amateur astronomer Brad Hoehne will serve as the Astronomy Park's director and will be on site during opening events, as well as for future programs.
JGAP will also offer daytime study that includes a Solar Plaza to study the Sun, Earth and the North Celestial Pole, among other celestial features.
The 80-foot in diameter Solar Plaza highlights the Sun's orientation to the Earth as it changes throughout the year. The plaza is encircled by a low wall with notches that offer framed views of the Sun on key days.
An enclosed 540-square-foot observatory features a retractable roof that permits night sky viewing.
"Our star-filled skies join miles and miles of trails, dense forests, stunning rock formations and rushing waterfalls to lure visitors from around the globe," said Hocking Hills Tourism Association Executive Director Karen Raymore. "The Tourism Association is thrilled to offer one more reason for travelers to visit the region, and a new way for them to experience a natural attraction that has long mesmerized all who visit us overnight."
John Glenn agreed to lend his name to the park, giving it his blessing shortly before passing away on Dec. 8, 2016. The Friends of Hocking Hills State Park led fundraising and development of the park and continues to raise the funds required to endow the park to maintain fulfill its research and education mission. Donations may be made at friendsofhockinghills.org.