Allegheny Observatory Open House, Friday, October 7, 2016

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 then donated to the Western University of Pennsylvania, today known as the University of Pittsburgh and turned to research. The University hired Samuel Pierpont Langley who initiated research into sunspots. His very detailed drawings of sunspots are still used in astronomical textbooks today. Langley would go on to sell a subscription service for accurate time. By 1870, the Allegheny Time service extended over 2,500 miles with 300 telegraph offices receiving time signals. Allegheny Observatory continued to supply time signals until the US Naval Observatory started offering it for free in 1920. 

More recently George Gatewood began using Allegheny Observatory to search for extrasolar planets beginning in 1972 and continuing into the present. In 2009, the university’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science installed Western Pennsylvania’s only seismic station. More recently an allsky camera part of a NASA Allsky Fireball Network  has been added, set up by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) with the goal of observing meteors brighter than the planet Venus, which are called fireballs. 

The Allegheny Observatory Open House presents an opportunity to view the heavens through the 13″ Thaw refractor as well as AAAP member’s scopes on the hill, to learn about the fascinating history including the “lens-napping,” the “tunnel” and the crypt as well as current research and more.


Upcoming 2016 AAAP Observatory  Star Parties:

Wagman Observatory:Oct 8 & 22 (Dark sky), Nov 5

Mingo Creek Park Observatory:Oct 21 & 22, Nov 12 (Bundle-up)



Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.

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