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In Memory Of John Glenn, An Astronomy Park Takes Shape

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
Private donors have raised nearly 60 percent of their goal, allowing the ground breaking to take place early this spring.

An astronomy park dedicated to the late U.S. Senator and astronaut was in the making almost two years before his passing last December. Now, the site will serve as a tribute by inspiring future generations of night sky gazers and explorers.

An organizer of the project, Omie Warner, says their efforts have received added support since Glenn's passing. Private donors have raised about 60 percent of their $1.6 million goal, allowing them to begin construction early this spring. Warner says the park will be completed by October or November.

Set in the wilderness of the Hocking Hills, the public park will include space for stargazing and eventually a telescope for Ohio State University researchers.

OSU astrophysicist Paul Sutter says Hocking Hills State Park is relatively free of light pollution and is in one of the darkest parts of Ohio.

If you want to see the night sky as it really is, says Sutter, this is your best bet.

"And so to have a park there, an observatory there, it makes perfect sense," Sutter says.

Sutter says he hopes to have the site designated as a dark sky preserve. In the same way a wild life refuge protects animals, this designation ensures surrounding developments don't drown out the night sky with light pollution.