AAAP 2018 Star Party Season Kicks-Off This Weekend

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh kicks-off its 2018 Star Party Season this weekend with the added “fireworks” of the Lyrid Meteor Shower. The weather looks good to very good all weekend! Wagman Observatory will have a star party on both Friday and Saturday, 8:05 PM. Mingo Observatory will open on Saturday, 6:30 PM. Thursday, 8:30 -~10 PM,  AAAP members will start the observing weekend early with a new Urban Outreach event at the Schenley Overlook. On Saturday during the day there will be AAAP telescope viewing and astronomy activities at the Westmoreland Earth Day, 1-6 PM, Winnie Palmer Nature Center, Latrobe, PA. On Sunday, AAAP will be at the Mt. Lebanon Earth Day (SUNDAY, 22nd APRIL 2018,11am – 3pm, MT LEBANON PARK, 900 Cedar Blvd, Mt. Lebanon, PA15228) offering telescope safe solar viewing and astronomy activities.  At Laurel Hill State Park the Earth Day Celebration starts early at 9AM, Saturday, at the Visitor Center.

During the daytime events enjoy safe solar viewing and astronomy activities.  Night sky observing begins at dusk. Look for Lyrid Meteors when the sky darkens. These meteors will be best seen before dawn on Saturday and Sunday mornings. See the planet Venus. View the Waxing Crescent Moon. Catch a last glimpse of the Orion nebula and other wonders of the Spring sky such as the galaxies in the Coma-Virgo Cluster, planetary nebulae and star clusters. These events are free and open to the public. Star party donations are appreciated. Be sure to obtain our 2018 Star Party Schedule, printed copies at our events and downloads on our website.  Contact AAAP via Facebook or our website for more updates and more information.

8:30 – 9:30 PM, Saturday, March 28, 2018 is Earth Hour

8:30 – 9:30 PM, Saturday, March 28, 2018 is Earth Hour.

The Earth Hour website: “Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet and nature.”

As amateur astronomers we are particularly aware of distracting lighting and loss of the night in our Greater Pittsburgh Area over increasingly short periods of years. Night is needed not only to see the stars but also for the biology of humans and other living things. Over-bright lights and unshielded poorly aimed light is not only wasteful energy inefficiency but is also not doing what it is meant to accomplish. Let Earth Hour with its basis in grassroots, remind us of ways to make a difference even at the home – neighborhood by effecting good lighting that recognizes glare, light trespass, shielding, color temperature of LED lighting, etc. and to ask community leaders and officials to do the same.

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh often talks about lighting at our outreach events and shares many members with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association.

Links to NASA’s Lunar Eclipse & Super Blue Blood Moon Broadcast

NASA Lunar Eclipse & Super Blue Blood Moon Broadcast  

Ursid Meteor Shower and December Solstice

Tonight begins the peak of the annual Ursid Meteor Shower, the spectacular event, caused by dust particles left behind by Comet 8P/Tuttle.  It always peaks near the time of the December Solstice (Winter Solstice) which in Pittsburgh happens today Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 11:27 AM. Experts are calling for the Ursids to peak on the night of the solstice itself, tonight December 21 this year. Best viewing is suggested to be on the morning (tomorrow) of December 22. The waxing crescent moon will set in the evening, providing moon-free viewing for the rest of the night. This shower favors more northerly latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The expected rate per hour is 5-10 meteors, but bursts of 100 or more meteors per hour have been observed at times, over the past century. Remember as in watching any meteor shower allow a minimum of 15-20 minutes to allow your eyes to become dark accommodated and try to locate your viewing under clear and dark skies!

sXo9nvMkpao4qAaYhkKYjKpO7JTfXg9ijWl-sn2v89x0ktrsIL3tVR-QSwhn-2SLagAAAABJRU5ErkJggg

sXo9nvMkpao4qAaYhkKYjKpO7JTfXg9ijWl-sn2v89x0ktrsIL3tVR-QSwhn-2SLagAAAABJRU5ErkJggg

Star-of-Bethlehem

Star-of-Bethlehem