10610 Clay Street
(Montville, OH 44064)
Park open daily at 6 AM
Memorial Day-Labor Day: open till 1 AM
Labor Day-Memorial Day: open till 11 PM
(see below for building/staffed hours)
Sign coordinates N 41° 34.991 W 81° 4.295
& Robert McCullough Science Center
2nd & 4th Fridays & Saturdays 6-11 PM
Every other Sun. (see program listings for actual dates) 1-4 PM; planetarium show at 2 PM
For this season's programs, click Programs above
and filter by Astronomy, or look for Observatory Park as the location. As weather permits, enjoy looking through the Oberle telescope with a naturalist during staffed hours, or bring your own telescope any time during park hours and use
one of the many telescope pads for self-guided stargazing!
Photo: MirAnia Photography
About this Park
Dark Sky Park
Weather & Seismic Station
Why We Love It
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.
The development of Observatory Park was funded entirely by donations totaling $2,167,452. The final phase of the capital campaign for Observatory Park, Phase IV, is the restoration of the historic Nassau Astronomical Observing Station, with a fundraising goal of $1,175,000.
Visitors to the park will notice downward-facing red lighting. Light pollution worldwide is increasing faster than ever, but why should we care? Watch the brief video below, then click here for more details.
Some helpful tools to help you explore the heavens:
Click here for Observatory Park's Clear Sky Chart, which tells you what the "seeing" will be like for the next couple days over Observatory Park. Asto-nat Wayne Kriynovich explains,
"Deep dark navy blue is the best/clearest skies. The lighter the color, the cloudier the sky. White means 100 percent cloud cover. The chart also gives forecasts for temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc."
Click here for a free downloadable Evening Sky Map each month.
Click here to view live data from Observatory Park's Weather Station (pictured at right atop the Oberle Observatory). On the top right of the page, the toolbar offers a summary, maps of the park, maps of nearby weather stations and more.
Observatory Park’s weather station features a thermometer for indicating current air temperature; a barometer for gauging air pressure; a hygrometer to measure humidity; a rainfall gauge to measure recent precipitation; an anemometer to measure wind speed; and a weather vane to indicate wind direction.
It is also part of WeatherLink®, a commercial weather service that
provides real-time weather information online and also uses observations from
members with automated personal weather stations like the one at Observatory Park.
Click here and select GPDO to view live data from Observatory Park's Seismic Station (pictured at right during installation).
Observatory Park’s seismic station features a seismometer, which is a
sensitive instrument in the ground
that detects earth tremors deep in
the earth’s crust, and a seismograph, which transforms a tremor’s seismic wave energy into electrical voltage that is converted into digital data, called a seismogram.
This seismic station is also part of The Ohio Seismic Network, which transmits data to help monitor earthquake activity in Ohio.
Several facilities are situated in the plaza. The Robert McCullough Science Center features weekly planetarium shows; a meteorite display that includes a meteorite visitors can touch; and projection equipment for astronomy-related programming. Across the plaza, the Oberle Observatory has partially retractable roof to allow direct sky viewing with the Newtonian reflector telescope, featuring a 25" mirror, donated by the estate of Norman Oberle. Visitors can climb a ladder to look into the eyepiece; eventually images will also be sent across the plaza so visitors can enjoy indoor viewing of the night skies.
Click here to learn about reserving a room in the Robert McCullough Science Center.
Photo: Shane Wohlken
Solstice viewing lines run the diameter of the plaza for direct alignment on the summer and winter solstices. The plaza also has five telescope pads with electricity hook-ups for amateur astronomers to use their own equipment to study the dark sky.
Planetary Trail - 0.85 mi
Weather Trail - 0.25 mi
Nassau Connector - 0.67 mi
Woodland Loop Trail - 1.85 mi
Observatory Park has numerous site features and signage, a mile-long Planetary Trail with interactive pods representing each planet, a Weather Trail with interactive stations representing ways to study weather, life-sized corner stones of the Great Pyramid of Giza, earthern mounds, henge stones, an entrance drive and parking lot, and woodland trails connecting the main campus with the soon-to-be-renovated Nassau Astronomical Observing Station. Download the trail map here.
Photo: Frank Gwirtz
Observatory Park protects the watershed of the Cuyahoga River, and holds a diversity of habitats, such as old growth forest, wetlands, and open fields. An important species that has been found is the endangered Red Swamp Current.
There is an abundance of wildlife on the property, including the rare Five-lined Skink.
Learn all about Observatory Park's numerous green features from this brochure!
Its Dark Sky
"One of my passions is night sky photography. Click here for a sample of my best work." – Mike Wagner (March 2013, equipment pictured right)
"Staying upall night to watch the Perseid meteor show in mid-August has been a family tradition since I was a little girl, and each year we are always looking for a BETTER place than last year so show our kids just what a spectacular show this is! I am so passionate about the experience every year...it’s like a pilgrimage! (THANKS, MOM!)
"Doing some research online in preparation for this year’s showers, I found Observatory Park in Chardon, and in 2011, it received permanent certification, becoming one of only six Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. and eight in the world. I was sooo happy to see that the park would be opened for overnight viewing on the weekend of August 11, and when we arrived there about 11:45 p.m., we were totally impressed with the facilities. We stayed till 5 a.m.; by then the cloud cover was too THICK. As a reward, we saw 20 meteors! As for the darkness...SCARY DARK (can’t see three feet in front of you, dark!) and the expanse of the sky was AWE-INSPIRING! It was like being swallowed up by the sky!
Lying flat could not provide a view of it all.
We had rain that drove us back to the car more than a few times but we did not give up.
When the sky did open up, the shooting stars we saw were of SPECTACULAR quality. The overall vote was that we will go back to Observatory Park again next year, IF NOT SOONER! The number of stars that we saw was incredible!" – Mary Gawor (mid-August 2012)
Its Astronomy Naturalists
"Last night my family attended the presentation at the observatory. I just learned of the observatory a couple of days ago from an article in The News-Herald. My second grade daughter loves to read and learn about space, so we went mostly for her enjoyment. What I didn't expect is how much I learned and enjoyed the evening. Mr. Mentrek's passion and enthusiasm was infectious, his presentation was informative and inviting, and the computer display was absolutely incredible. Thank you, and please pass along my thanks to Mr. Mentrek and Mr. Kriynovich." –Mathew Spangler (November 2012)
Its School Programming
"I am sending along a note of thanks for Geauga Parks allowing a complimentary field trip to Observatory Park for my class. A few weeks ago, we were privileged to be what I believe was the first class to participate in the Human Orrery experience (pictured below). Our two guides for this program were exceptional and geared the program very appropriately to our class of 6- to 9-year-old students. We were also able to participate in a planetarium show that day. Our guide for this program was also very good. My students were very excited to experience both programs, and as we journaled about our experience later that day, they had much to say about what they had learned. My husband, Gary, and I are honored to have played a part in making the Human Orrery possible, both as financial donors and physical laborers in the installation of the orrery. It is our hope that many people, school groups and families will come away with a greater understanding of our universe." –Kate Witosky, Early Elementary Teacher, Hershey Montessori School (November 2012)
"I wish to give a very large Thank You for one of the Highlights of my Life. Former ACA (Astronomy Club of Akron) President Greg Crenshaw and myself visited your facility on Saturday, September 29, 2012, at about 3 p.m. You took us on an extensive tour of the Nassau observatory and the new Observatory Park facilities. I will categorize the experience in the "Too Good to be True" Category. The Nassau observatory is (as you explained) a true time capsule. I have to admit I am still behaving like an adolescent who just had a tour through a very large candy factory. I (unlike Greg) did not know of the Nassau observatory. It was a complete surprise. Marvelous, Simply Marvelous." –Gary Smith, President of the Astronomy Club of Akron
Click the map below to see Observatory Park plotted by Google Maps and get directions.
From Erie and points north: Travel I-90 to Route 528. Travel south
on Route 528 for approximately 6 miles to Route 6 (GAR Hwy).
Turn right on Route 6 and travel 1 mile to Clay Street. Turn left on Clay Street and travel 1.5 miles to the park
entrance on the right.
From Akron and points south: Travel I-422 E. Travel approximately 6 miles after highway ends until Route 528 (Madison Road). Turn left onto Madison Road and travel 13 miles to Chardon Windsor Road. Turn left on Chardon Windsor Road and travel 1 mile to Clay Street. Turn right on Clay Street and travel 1.6 miles to park entrance on the left.
The mission of Geauga Park District is to preserve, conserve and protect the natural features of Geauga County and to provide outdoor recreational experiences to our
residents of every age, every ability and at all times of the year. • 9160 Robinson Rd., Chardon, Ohio 44024 • (440) 286-9516 • firstname.lastname@example.org