Star Party season is here
Local residents have a variety of opportunities available to them to learn about the wonders of the night sky.
They can attend a live star identification show at the Buhl Planetarium to become skilled at locating constellations or attend a Friday or Saturday night observing session at the science center's Buhl Observatory to get a close-up look at the universe through a telescope.
Stargazers also can learn about the wonders of the night sky by attending one of the Star Parties offered by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.
The AAAP offers free public Star Parties at two local sites. Stargazers can attend a party at the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park just outside Russellton, or they can attend a party at the AAAP's Mingo Creek Park Observatory in Mingo Creek County Park, Washington County.
At an AAAP Star Party, members set up a variety of telescopes and offer visitors stunning views of many different celestial objects. Depending upon what's in the night sky, you may be able to view galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, planets and the moon. Many visitors bring their own telescopes or observing equipment to take advantage of the viewing conditions at the sites. However, all you really need to bring is warm clothes and a folding lounge chair to avoid neck strain while you view the stars and planets with your own eyes.
Club members also will answer any questions you may have about astronomy or help you set up and align your own telescope. Star Parties also include guided tours of the constellations by one of the club's instructors.
The next scheduled Star Parties at the Mingo Creek Park Observatory and Wagman Observatory are on June 14 and 15. For more information on the AAAP, future Star Parties and directions, log on to http://www.3ap.org.