I hope you have been enjoying stepping back through my recent trip to the Hocking Hills area of Ohio with me. If you live in the US, I encourage you to take the time to visit some of sights there. If you live outside the US, there are likely other things you will want to see first, but if you get the chance on a return trip, Hocking Hills is well worth it!
You might recall in this post last week that the Rock House hike was treacherous at times, but didn't take nearly as long as we thought it would. @mrsbozz was itching for some more exercise and we thought the kids needed some more open space to run around in.
I turned the car south and took us down to the John Glenn Astronomy Park. I had seen information on this place when I was watching Aerial America (one of my favorite TV shows), and when we passed it on our way to Old Man's Cave I knew I needed to come back and take a look.
It was a fairly short drive and within about ten minutes we were pulling into the parking lot. Even though this park is more of a nighttime place, I was still a bit surprised to find we were the only ones there... Bonus!
The approach from the parking lot to the park is nothing really spectacular. Just a pavilion to the left, the building you can partially see here, and a wall. Once you get past the wall, that is where the real excitement begins. If I had to guess, they likely constructed the wall as a way to block the headlights from incoming cars. This would ensure people sitting in the park looking at the sky retained a bit of their night sight.
There is so much going on at the park that it is easy to not realize what you are looking at until you read about it later. Take this sculpture for example which is probably one of my favorite aspects of the park.
The small silver sphere that you see atop the pedestal is a representation of the planet Earth. Moving down, the bench that you see around Earth is a representation of the planet Jupiter. They did their best to maintain the aspect ratio so you can see just how large Jupiter is. That isn't the crazy part though. If you zoom out even further, you will notice that the whole area we were standing in is a large circle. You can see the wall surrounding it to the right and left and the gentle curvature of the space straight ahead. This whole paved area represents the size of our Sun in relation to Jupiter and Earth. Isn't that crazy!
As you walk around and read about the park, you really start to appreciate the amount of time and effort that was put into the design of the park. These pillars surround the perimeter of the park (and representation of the sun). They are placed a specific intervals so that on each Equinox and Solstice the sun shines on them in a very specific manner.
Just outside the far side of the circle is a makeshift sundial that we didn't find out about until we had left. Basically, there are paver stones in the dirt and if you stand on the stone for the month, your shadow will fall on the time of day. Assuming the sun happens to be out of course. We thought about turning around to try it, but we noticed that some of the pavers looked like they had been moved, so it may have not worked properly anyway.
Past the calendar/clock area is a large open field where visitors can come to sit and view the night time sky. I was a little bummed that we were there a good week before the peak of the Perseides Meteor shower. Had the time aligned correctly, I likely would have made a late night trek back to the park to spend some time star gazing.
The rest of the day we hung out around the house and spent some time relaxing around the pool. Just one more hiking expedition remained and I will cover that tomorrow, so make sure to check back!
If you want to see the other posts in this series, you can find them here:
All pictures taken by myself or @mrsbozz