Hocking Hill's Guide to Stargazing

Advice from Director of John Glenn Astronomy Park, Brad Hoehne

+ Pick a time of year when the weather is good. August through Oct. in Ohio is more reliable.

+ Make sure the moon is narrow crescent and sets early or isn’t in the sky at all in the early evening. A bright moon would wash out the sky. A full moon is beautiful and nice but defeats the purpose of going to a dark place. It’ll be like a giant street light in the sky.

+ State Parks are concerned about people getting into trouble at night. So, the best and safest way to do it is to either get permission to do so with the park (until the astronomy park is open) or camp, picking a site away from the security lights and the bathroom. You can look at the site map beforehand to reserve the best spot.

+ There are two guidebooks that I give to people when they are first getting into it. 
The Sitkky Night Sky (a book of star maps). It starts off with something everyone can find and teaches you how to find various constellations. No words or anything. Just different patterns with charts that get more and more complicated over time. It covers all the seasons and provides a really good first impression of the sky.

+ Another one that’s slightly more advanced is called Turn Left at Orion. It's a bit more about specific constellations, star-lore and those kind of things.

+ When it comes to telescopes it depends on what you want to see and how often.
In general, a simple telescope that has as few electronics as possible and a moderately big mirror (reflector not a refractor) is a good thing to get. I like telescopes that are 8in Newtonian reflectors. Dobsonian. You’re getting a telescope that is a collector of light. The bigger the thing that does the collecting the more light you're collecting, the brighter the image and the easier it is to see. A lot of people get this fancy thing with computer controls but with a tiny opening. But what you’re paying for is all the electronics and stuff. Forget about the electronics or the fancy lens. You want a simple telescope with a fairly big mirror. There's nothing to break , there’s a lot of light and it costs less.

Be on the look out for programming at the new John Glenn Astronomy Park this November. Until then, use these tips to see the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 and get under the shadow. (To learn more check out "Why you should Really see the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017":