Urban dwellers are finding it more difficult to see the beautiful night sky as light pollution drowns out their view. Here in the Hocking Hills, we have a beautiful, wide-open view of the stars and encourage visitors to spend some time gazing heavenward to see those beautiful stars. The campsites and cabin spots of Hocking have a clearer view of the night sky than almost anywhere else in Ohio.
STARGAZING IN HOCKING HILLS
Bring your telescope and a guidebook or Stargazing App to identify stars, planets, constellations, and if your camera is really good you can get a photo of the Milky Way! If you want to see it from a unique spot, the new John Glenn Astronomy Center is an interesting place to visit.
Day adventure seekers come to the Hocking Hills region of Ohio to climb, zipline, kayak, boat, fish, and hike their way around the beautiful trails throughout the area. From easy to difficult, the trails provide a scenic way to see close up geological formations like caves and cliff sides on foot. Many people come to see fall colors or explore the summer sun around the many lakes surrounding Hocking Hills. At night, people may not realize just how much the Hocking Hills burst to life with nature’s wonders. Up above in the sky are millions of tiny twinkling stars. Some of the best views anywhere in the Midwest are right here in the hills. Find out why people visit Hocking Hills to stargaze and where to go exploring these astronomical wonders.
Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve is considered an observing site by the Columbus Astronomical Society. Though it is closed at night to visitors, special permits are available. The features that bring people to Conkles Hollow during the day, including sheer cliffs of sandstone, are not safe to wander at night. The rivers that once flowed through the area cut out rock over time and sediments deposited which compressed to form a thick hard layer of sandy rock referred to as Black Hand sandstone. With all the scenic beauty, many people may not realize they can come and view the starry skies at night for a spectacular view. Call for special permits to access the area at night or camp nearby for some of the most amazing views around.
John Glenn Astronomy Park
John Glenn Astronomy Park in Hocking Hills was completed in 2018. The park was designed to offer perfectly unobstructed views of the night sky. This unique gem is one of the few places in Hocking Hills, and Ohio, where light pollution is kept to a minimum to maximize stargazers’ delight. People love to come and take photographs, gaze through telescopes, and learn from experts on galaxies and stars that will impress kids and adults. A main feature of the park is an interactive sundial along with a 540-square-foot observatory with retractable roof and powerful telescopes. Some recommendations to make a trip to the observatory include:
- Viewing meteor showers
- Learn history of the region and cosmos
- Specially designed plaza that allows sun rays to fall on a central point on the first day of each of the four seasons
- Unique programming and classes
Visiting the observatory is an absolutely thrilling experience for anyone who wants to view the stars and spend time in space from the comfort of their own backyard.
Viewing the stars sounds like a great idea but there is a science behind seeing them in the best light possible. It all depends on many factors. Here are just a few of the ways to make the most of a Hocking Hills stargazing experience:
- Go when weather is best, generally August through October
- A bright moon washes out the night sky. Go when there is a thin crescent instead for best views
- Pack those bags for an overnight at a cabin or campsite. Go with friends, family, or solo and check out the night sky as you drift off to sleep
- Get a book of star maps to view where constellations are and check patterns which provide a different appreciation of astronomy for both beginners and advanced voyeurs
- Get a simple telescope for a great view of the sky. Don’t worry about electronics or fancy gear. Show up with telescopes and binoculars to view some of the most amazing scenery anywhere in Ohio
Viewing the night sky is not everyone’s cup of tea but anyone who tries it finds they enjoy the beautiful views and quiet serenity of dark evenings spent gazing at miraculous stars and constellations. Come experience the joy of seeing stars up close and personal down in Hocking Hills.