Early August is a special time of year for stargazers, especially those located in the northern hemisphere when the Perseids meteor shower is set to make its annual arrival next weekend. With upwards of 80 meteors per hour visibly illuminating the midnight sky, they are easily one of the most spectacular stargazing opportunities of the entire year. This dazzling spectacle that occurs each year when the earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet marks a time for celebration for many astronomy enthusiasts. For anyone that’s looking for great star-studded spots near the city, you need look no further. Here are the best places for stargazing in Pittsburgh.
Allegheny Observatory at Riverview Park
159 Riverview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
Located only four miles from the Golden Triangle at Point State Park, the Allegheny Observatory offers one of the best spots for stargazing within city limits. If you can’t get out to some of the more secluded destinations for the Perseids meteor shower this year, the observatory is the next best spot. The observatory is open to the public by appointment from April to October. It is a nationally renowned spot for astronomical research with cutting-edge equipment for a more concentrated study of everything that illuminates the sky at night.
Mingo Creek Park Observatory
10 Shelter Way
Finleyville, PA 15332
The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP) has been a mainstay of the stargazing community in Pittsburgh for more than 75 years. With over 500 current members, it’s no surprise that they know where to go when the Perseids meteor shower arrives. The first of two locations sponsored by the AAAP on this list is the Mingo Creek Park Observatory in Washington County, PA. If you’re truly passionate about astronomy, contact the group about becoming a member. If you’re just looking for a place to witness the meteor shower this August, a good idea is to follow them to Mingo Creek State Park next weekend.
225 Kurn Road
Tarentum, PA 15084
The Wagman Observatory is located about 18 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh and is situated on the northeast corner of Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum. It is the second site on this list endorsed by the AAAP and at 1,340 feet above sea level, it is arguably the best. The observatory is home to the 11-inch refractor and the Manka memorial telescopes and is a popular site for stargazing parties throughout the year. For more information on attending your first “Star Parties” event, go to www.3ap.org and click on the “About” link.
Carnegie Science Center – Buhl Planetarium
1 Allegheny Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
There’s no doubt that the complexities of the heavenly bodies that shine above can be overwhelming. For anyone that’s ever dreamed about learning more about the mysteries of the universe, the best place to start is at the Buhl Planetarium in the Carnegie Science Center. Everything there is to know about the Milky Way galaxy, its planets and so much more is available to everyone at the Buhl Planetarium. Even when the weather is cloudy and there are no stars visible in the night sky, you can learn just about everything there is to know about what makes the heavenly bodies just so heavenly.
Marcel Tourdot is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.