Hocking Hills stargazing venue opens June 21

Celebrate the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—with a visit to the new John Glenn Astronomy Park in the Hocking Hills.

The park, an undertaking of the Friends of the Hocking Hills, will host a grand opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. June 21. A social hour will be followed by a sky-diver drop-in and a ribbon cutting, according to the event announcement. Visitors will be able to watch the sun set through the summer solstice aperture in the Solar Plaza, then, around 9:06 p.m., look through the park’s telescopes to view the moon and Jupiter.

John Glenn Astronomy Park, named for the decorated military pilot, astronaut and U.S. senator from Cambridge, is located within Hocking Hills State Park. Astronomy buffs favor the Hocking Hills region for its lack of light pollution and clear views.

In addition to providing a place to view the night sky, JGAP’s 80-foot-diameter Solar Plaza offers a chance to study the earth, sun and North Celestial Pole. Notches in the surrounding wall provide framed views of the sun on notable days.

The venue also has a 540-square-foot observatory with a retractable roof and greenspace. It is located at 20298 State Route 664 in Logan. JGAP has several public programs scheduled, including daytime and nighttime observations, all of which are weather-dependent. See the schedule at facebook.com/johnglennastronomypark.

More than $1 million has been raised to fund the park, and Friends of the Hocking Hills aims to secure another $400,000 for equipment and educational programs. For more information, go to friendsofhockinghills.org.