I have always told people that I have the best job in the world. But that was before I met Chris Mentrek, Observatory Park Naturalist at the brand new Geauga Park District’s Observatory Park in Montville Township. Chris is a naturalist on steroids.
Chris is so excited about what he does that the words fairly tumble out of his mouth as he describes the wonders of the night-time sky and how they relate to this eleven-hundred acre park tucked away in one of the darkest areas of northeast Ohio.
“The International Dark Sky Association, a group of scientists who seek out the darkest skies on earth have given us a Silver rating. There are no gold rating east of the Mississippi River. We are the only Observatory Park in Ohio.”
Mentrek, who proudly claims to be a “space nerd, born and bred”, says to make it simple, on a clear night you can see the majesty and width of the Milky Way out here at night, something you cannot see near downtown Cleveland or in most people’s backyard.”
The new park boasts both an observatory with a 25 inch telescope and a planetarium for those nights when clouds obscure the telescopes vision.
“Eventually, within a couple of years, we will have two telescopes. The old Case-Western Reserve Observatory is on our grounds and it is being rebuilt. When complete it will have a telescope with three-times more power than our present telescope.
The park offers some other unusual ways to explore the solar system on foot.
The first thing you see as you leave the parking lot is a twelve foot high sundial that, on sunny days, will allow you to see the time.; There is a sculpture of moon phases as well as photos of the moon in its various stages.
….you can read the rest of this story in the Saturday, November 24th editon of the Plain Dealer or on their web site at www.cleveland.com