Allegheny Observatory Source:

Allegheny Observatory:  Source:

It is Annual Open House Tour time at Allegheny Observatory!

The tour is free and open to the public but reservations are required and limited in number. Members of the public who would like to attend the open house should telephone the observatory at 412-321-2400 between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Monday through Friday.

AAAP members who would like to volunteer should email  Lou Coban as outlined in AAAP’s September Guide Star Newsletter. The AAAP has been helping out at the Allegheny Observatory Open House for at least half a century. Our members  keep that tradition going by showing a strong by offering to set up scopes on the observatory’s front lawn and in other capacities.

The Allegheny Observatory, founded on February 15, 1859, is one of the world’s major astronomical research institutions.  It is four miles north of the Golden Triangle (downtown Pittsburgh) atop Observatory Hill in Riverview Park. AO is part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh , eight miles away in Oakland. Originally dedicated to general public education,  by 1867 the facility was Continue Reading

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh opens its observatories to the public on the following dates and locations: Wagman Observatory on September 10th & 24th (both Saturdays) and Mingo Observatory on September 23rd (Friday) & 24th (Saturday). No reservations. No charge. No limit to group size. Just show up. Our star parties feature a rich array of celestial delights. Experience the AAAP telescopes and those of our members as they reveal our solar system and more distant objects, including galaxies and nebula.

More information: Mingo Star Parties Guide

More information: Wagman Star Parties Guide

Although admission is free, we gladly accept donations at the observatory entrance desks to cover the cost of operation. There is no smoking or alcohol permitted on our observatory grounds. Please drive slowly and carefully and be aware of pedestrians, especially children. Children must be under direct parental supervision at all times.

Our helpful and informed all volunteer staff will be happy to assist you to gain in knowledge and appreciation of the night sky. Continue Reading

Meeting Update:

Thank you to Astrobotic Technology and their Public Relations and Customer Care Coordinator Mandy Fleeger and Senior Electronic Engineer John Branthoover and the 28 Members and 3 Guests who attended the AAAP September Meeting! Not bad attendance considering the Liberty Bridge was closed. Mandy and John informed us on Astrobotic Technology,  the premier private space technology corporation in the world, and is it based here in Pittsburgh! John’s talk was fascinating with still images and video showing robots fit for harshest terrains and conditions, flying autonomous crafts capable of LIDAR informed decision making for landing site selection and independent landing, drones in lava tubes, etc. Astrobotic is the only firm to win all three Google Milestone Prizes. Mr. Branthooler designed the camera which won Astrobotic’s Google Milestone Imaging Prize.  In contention for the Google Lunar X Prize, Astrobotic will launch to the Moon no later than the end of 2017. In the meantime they are partnered with Airbus and DHL and continue with each additional  freight contract to increase the profitability of the mission. We have special announcement for AAAP members who attended the meeting as well as those who missed it. Let this announce to our Members Only we are invited to a private tour.  If you are interested in one of the proposed tours, date/time to be determined, please send and email to with “A Private Tour” in the header stating your  preference to day or evening along with your full name as registered on the AAAP Membership List, email address and phone number. A $5 across the dues increase will occur January 1, 2017. It does not apply to Student Memberships. Early bird 2017 dues paying now, prior to January 1 avoids the increase. AAAP is Participating in Washington Gives Day, Tuesday September 13, 2016. Please see the calendar for upcoming observatory star parties and off-site observing events. Best Regards.  Kathy D. ,  AAAP Vice President

AAAP Logo - 0314 x 0314 - photo white on black - rev 2

The September Meeting of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh will be held at 7:30 PM, September 9, 2016, at Carnegie Science Center, Bayer Science Stage and features the  guests from Astrobotic Technology, the lunar logistics firm spun out of CMU’s robotics institute in 2007. You may recall Team Astrobotic won 1.75 million dollars in Google Milestone Prizes and is among the remaining teams in contention for the lauded Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology Customer and Public Relations Coordinator Mandy Fleeger since the spring of this years has worked to make this talk possible in addition to her heavy travel schedule over the summer promoting Astrobotic’s active business endeavors with Airbuss, DHL and showing its Peregrine Lander, just to name a few. The evening’s main speaker is Astrobotic’s Senior Electrical Engineer, John Branthoover speaking on Space Electronics and Robotics.  John Branthoover has been working in the electronic industry since 1978.  He has been employed in every facet of electronic, manufacturing, and design engineering, from printed circuit board fabrication to hardcore research and development.  He specializes in embedded systems, hardware and software, real time operating systems, printed circuit board design and layout, design for manufacturability, automatic test, and calibration.  John has been a licensed amateur radio operator since 1973 (WA3YWU), and has a passion for all things mechanical and electrical. John’s specialties include: Embedded Systems, Hardware and Software, Real Time Operating Systems.  PCB Design and Layout, Mixed Signal, Analog and Digital Design.  Space Robotics Systems, Air Robotics Systems, Ground Robotics Systems.  High Bandwidth Communications Systems, Advanced Sensors and FPGA Design.

The speaker will be at the top of the evening shortly after 7:30 PM.  Following the speaker there will be a brief recess followed by the monthly business meeting.

Here is an online interview tonight’s speaker made for Mouser Electronics.

Heads up there is a Pink Floyd Laser Show Party upstairs in the Planetarium during the meeting. It is a special late night laser party event with shows at 8,9,10,11 and 12. They will show the Dark Side of the Moon, the Wall and a greatest hits compilation show rotating through the evening. There are also some extra activities going on around the building. It should be great fun!

Please be prepared for traffic patterns to be disrupted by the Liberty Bridge Closure.

Carnegie Science Center Parking Lot charges a flat $5 fee.

The October AAAP monthly meeting will be held 7:30 PM, Friday, October 14, 2016, Rangos OmniMax Theater, Carnegie Science Center and features NASA Mission Specialist for the New Horizons Mission, Mark “Indy” Kochte, speaking on New Horizon Mission Updates.

AAAP Meetings are free and open to the public.

Continue Reading

Guest Speaker John Branthoover Soft-Lands On the Moon

The September 9, 2016 meeting speaker comes to us from Astrobotic Technology, the lunar logistics firm spun out of CMU’s robotics institute in 2007. John Branthoover, one of Astrobotics’ senior electrical engineers, is our guest. Team Astrobotic won three Google Milestone Prizes: The Landing Prize ($1 million), Mobility Prize ($500,000), and Imaging Prize ($250,000), for a total of $1.75 million in prize winnings! Astrobotic has entered into partnerships with DHL and Airbus in their competition for the Google LunarXprize as well as their quest to establish a regular privately-owned lunar payload system. Astrobotic is one of three companies partnered with NASA through the Lunar Cargo Transport and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) to advance robotic landing capabilities. Their newly unveiled Peregrine lander features Aerojet Rocketdyne engines. Their next launch is planned for 2017.

The September meeting takes place in the Carnegie Science Center’s Bayer Science Stage starting at 7:30 pm. It’s been a long time since the U.S. soft-landed anything on the Moon. This is a good chance to learn about the next Giant Leap.

Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh


WCCF Gives 2016 – Tuesday, September 13

Give Online beginning at 8 a.m. on September 13 to 8 p. m. September 13,

or by Check before September 13 (must be in hands of WCCF by 8 PM, September 13).

Please click here to be taken to the donation “button,” which will be “active” on September 13, 2016.

Last year WCCF Gives Day raised over $300 for the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.  

WCCF Gives is a one-day event, in which each donation you make to your favorite Washington County non-profit via or by check will be increased by a percentage of a bonus pool estimated to be at least $100,000.

Donations made to  the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh  through the Washington County Community Foundation’s Washington Gives Day on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, online that day or by check anytime before that day will be matched from a 100,000 donor pool. All donations will be used to further enhance our educational programs and outreach.

The Washington County Community Foundation (WCCF) is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. It was initiated by community leaders to encourage charitable giving. Its mission is to improve the quality of life primarily in Washington County by providing a vehicle for philanthropic giving across a broad spectrum of giving levels to support diverse community needs and to provide prudent stewardship of those charitable funds.

Help the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh Raise More. All that is required is a minimum donation of $25 (though more is appreciated). Each minimum donation of at least $25, given at this specific time, will receive a match from a bonus pool of funds, thereby expanding upon your generosity.

 Please select the one option which suits you. Continue Reading
Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh is Participating in Amazon Smile. "AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. " From .

Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh is participating in Amazon Smile. “Amazon Smile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. ” From .

Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. A simple designation of Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh your favorite charity lets you shop while Amazon gives and AAAP benefits. Thank you!



Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.