There’s a lot of things to love about the Hocking Hills area: the tranquility of nature, exhilarating hiking trails, breathtaking views… just to name a few. When thinking about the parts that I love the most, one seemed to shine brighter than the others – that being the stargazing opportunities. One of my first weeks working for the Castle I remember looking up at the night sky near the Baker’s and Brewer’s firepit and I couldn’t remember the last time I saw anything like it. This week on Quoth the Raven we’re going to explore stargazing in Hocking Hills – where to do it, upcoming 2021 meteor showers, and some helpful tools to better acquaint you with the night sky.
Not to toot our own horn, but Ravenwood Castle is a beautiful and safe place to catch a glimpse of the stars. We have an observation deck just a stone’s throw away from the parking lot but encourage all of our guests to adventure the grounds and find their own perfect spots to post up. Most of our Medieval Village cottages all boast their own decks and if your accommodation has a second story deck, that is pretty hard to beat!
The best time for stargazing is in the months of August, September, and October and specifically when it’s a new moon or a small crescent. A full moon can wash out the sky and as beautiful as it is, it can affect your view of the stars. If you’re looking to venture offsite, we recommend the John Glenn Astronomy Park, only a 20-minute drive from the Castle. While programs at John Glenn may be suspended for now due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, you are still welcome to stargaze there as long as you follow the protocols they outline on their homepage.
While gazing up at the night sky can be beneficial for many reasons, we highly recommend making your way out in our neck of the woods when there is a meteor shower. Just for you we’ve mentioned some of the most popular meteor showers below to help booking your trip even easier!
Lyrids – April 16th, 2021 to April 30th, 2021
Medium strength shower; not as many trails, but known to produce fireballs
Perseids – July 17th, 2021 to August 26th, 2021
One of the most popular meteor showers; peaks on warm August nights
Orionids – October 2nd, 2021 to November 7th, 2021
Generally a medium strength shower; produces 10-20 at maximum
Leonids – November 6th, 2021 to November 30th, 2021
Often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains
So now you know when to come watch the skies, but how do you even know what you’re looking at? Brad Hoehne, John Glenn Astronomy Park’s director, recommends The Sitkky Night Sky which is a book of star maps. This guidebook teaches you how to find various constellations and in his opinion, is a great tool to learn the basics. Personally, one of my favorite apps is called Star Tracker. If you’re aren’t able to get your hands on the copy of the guidebook just download the app, hold up your phone, and then point the device to the sky and have fun! You can see any stars, constellations and deep sky objects you are watching in real time.
Ravenwood Castle makes for a perfect home base for a trip of any occasion, but especially for one as out of this world as this one! Have you ever stargazed at Ravenwood?