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Geauga’s Observatory Park Opening This SpringPosted Jan. 30, 2012 | Issac Profitt
Observatory Park, a Geauga Park District project, will deliver educational and recreational opportunities to the general public in Northeast Ohio beginning this spring.
Kent State University at Geauga, Case Western Reserve University, Lake Erie Science Center and Great Lakes Science Center have partnered to bring this endeavor to life.
Observatory Park is designed for local communities to learn about and experience astronomy, meteorology and geology through the installation of the Oberle telescope, one of the largest telescopes in Ohio. In addition, a state-of-the-art planetarium in an adjacent building will connect public programming visitors to the stars when there is daylight or clouds.
Kent State Geauga adjunct Professor of Physics Dan Rothstein has been on the Observatory Park committee for nearly eight years.
“It’s great to have a park of this caliber only 15 minutes from the Geauga Campus,” Rothstein says. “I look forward to taking my students there to help them better grasp astronomy.”
The park is just one section of Geauga Park District, which manages nearly 9,500 acres, including 18 public parks. In addition to enjoying the planetarium, casual Observatory Park visitors will have everyday access to a lunar phases display, human sundial, day and night gardens, planetary and weather trail and more.
“There aren’t that many areas where the sky is even clear enough for the stars to be studied, that’s why the opening of this park is a big deal,” Rothstein says.
Observatory Park is unique to this region because it’s the only park in Ohio to earn Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Sky Association. The “dark sky” initiative has been promoted by national and local parks to reduce light pollution, as well as wasted energy.
Geauga Park District’s communications specialist Sandy Ward said that other “dark sky” parks have been recognized in the region, but they don’t have facilities matching Observatory Park’s.
“The goal was to create a park like no other,” Ward says. “So many features make it unique – not only the ‘green’ buildings and fantastic Oberle telescope, with its 25.5-inch mirror, but its interpretive features.”
Education is at the forefront of the park’s mission. In addition to universities in Northeast Ohio benefiting from the park, all Geauga County schools will offer programming at the facility over time.
“The immediate goal is to expand the excitement of fifth-graders fresh off their Nature Scopes experience, when they learned how to use binoculars as telescopes and microscopes, to reach the stars and beyond, from the ground to the galaxies,” Ward says.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony, held last fall to preview the facilities of Observatory Park, allowed residents and dignitaries to celebrate Geauga Park districts 50th year anniversary.
Mitchell Myers, a lab technician for Kent State Geauga’s biology department, also served on the Observatory Park technical committee, where he helped lay the foundation for the exhibits displayed.
“I think both Kent State and the Observatory Park will benefit from the exposure, as we aid in marketing the park’s programs. Also, the community will see our campus being involved with the park system,” Myers says.
For more information, visit www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/observatorypark.shtml or call 440-279-0803.