Local residents have a variety of opportunities available 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 planets, constellations and deep sky objects, or attend a monthly SkyWatch session at Carnegie Science Center’s rooftop Buhl Observatory to get a close look at the universe through our 16-inch telescope. Stargazers can also 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 in Frazer, or they can attend a party at the AAAP’s Mingo Creek Park Observatory, Mingo Creek County Park, Washington County.
At an AAAP star party, members set up a wide variety of telescopes and offer visitors stunning views of many 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 is a folding lounge chair to avoid neck strain while you view the stars and planets with your own eyes.
The Buhl Observatory’s SkyWatch program happens monthly rain or shine. The observatory’s 16-inch telescope is used if skies are clear. In the event of inclement weather, a virtual tour of the night sky is presented in the Buhl Planetarium. Our next scheduled SkyWatch session is July 16.
The next scheduled Star Party at the Mingo Creek Park Observatory and Wagman Observatory is Friday and Saturday.