If you were outside on the nights of May 24 and 25th and had the good luck to have clear skies, you would have seen a beautiful sight – the Full Flower Moon.
The Flower Moon was so named because it occurs in the time of spring flowers and planting. Flowers come into full bloom and corn is ready to plant. It is also called the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Some call it the Dyad moon, (the Latin word for a pair) which refers to twin stars of the constellation of Castor and Pollux.
Dana and I decided Saturday would be a good time to take Andy to visit the new Observatory Park in Geauga County, Ohio. Dana has a 6″ computer guided telescope that hadn’t seen the dark of night since we last had warm weather in the fall. Saturday the 25th was not exactly warm with temps in the mid 40′s! However, the park visitor center was open and I popped in every once in while to warm up. The sky was not perfectly clear but we had a very good view of the beautiful full moon which lit up the landscape almost like day! Dana pointed his telescope at Saturn – the view was so good one visitor who looked through his scope joked that he must have a photo taped to the front. I actually thought the same thing when I looked – the view was that perfect. The twins, Castor and Pollux, were there in the sky as were the seven sisters, the Pleiades. The Big Dipper gave all the kids a thrill since most of them could find it, high overhead.
Observatory Park is a 1,100-acre park in Montville Township, located within the Cuyahoga River watershed, which allows people to explore nature from the ground to the galaxies. It is Geauga Park District’s intent to protect this natural area in perpetuity.
In 2003, Geauga Park District purchased a large tract of land in Montville Township, an area that had long been recognized by astronomers as one of the few regions left in Northeast Ohio that had not yet been affected by light pollution. After a series of additional acquisitions, and the addition in 2008 of 280 adjacent acres that included the Nassau Observatory, formerly owned and operated by Case Western Reserve University, plans took shape to develop a park dedicated to the natural sciences.
At its dedication in 2011, Observatory Park received permanent distinction from the International Dark-Sky Association as a Silver Tier Dark Sky Park, becoming one of only eight Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. and 11 in the world. Click here for more about this designation. — Geauga Park District
Maybe you remember seeing thousands of stars when you were a child. Due to increasing light pollution, the only night sky object people in highly populated areas have seen is the moon, if it’s rather clear. At Observatory Park, you have a chance to see at least most of the brighter objects in the sky and on a very dark night with little or no moonlight, you may see the Milky Way.
The night we were there Andy and I attended a very good slide show program on our moon and the moons of other planets in our solar system. The photos our satellites in outer space send to us and the data gained from them is truly amazing. I marveled at how much we know about our solar system compared to the many years ago when I was in school.
The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm every day. During the day there is a trail system that runs through a meadow. The trail has educational signs along the way about the earth and the galaxy. At night, a naturalist is on duty during published hours and if the weather permits, will assist you in looking at night sky objects through the park’s telescope. There are power outlets for those with computer driven telescopes and amateurs may stay past the 11 pm published closing time for night sky viewing. A naturalist on duty the night we were there told us they have future plans to include a campsite on the property for those wishing to spend the night.
Visit Observatory Park’s web site for hours and complete information. There you can link to information about viewing conditions before you go. Here are some photos of our visit to the park.