Amateur Astronomers Assn. of Pittsburgh

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The official logo of the Amateur Astronomers Assn. of Pittsburgh
Amateur Astronomers Assn. of Pittsburgh has promoted popular astronomy in western Pennsylvania for over seventy five years. With over 500 members, it is one of the larger astronomy clubs in the nation. At monthly meetings (open to the public, see the current club calendar for time and place) we announce upcoming celestial events such as meteor showers, comets, occultations, and rare planetary alignments. We also share observations and techniques so that all members may benefit from the experiences. Each meeting also features a special speaker, sometimes an AAAP member, but also outside experts from various fields. Past speakers have presented topics including meteorite hunting in Antarctica, cosmological modeling using supercomputers, and astrophotography with exotic equipment such as dry-ice cameras.

The AAAP was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1929 by Leo Scanlon and Chester B. Roe. It was founded with the express purpose "to promote the interests that are common to amateur astronomers, and the advancement of the science of astronomy through public education programs and scientific research." The AAAP has seen a recent surge in membership in the last several years owing to two extraterrestrial visitors (comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp), several exciting, successful, and highly publicized NASA space programs, and the warm charm of the members.



Club members have been involved in many projects in both the astronomical and general communities. Recent accomplishments include the installation of an official Pennsylvania Historic Marker honoring the location of the first ever astronomical dome constructed from aluminum, the naming of an asteroid after the co-founder of the AAAP, making area zoning boards and other officials aware of the need for careful design and installation of nighttime lighting for schools, malls, and housing to avoid adversely affecting the visibility of the night time sky (Light Pollution).

Benefits of membership

AAAP members attend monthly indoor meetings, September through May. Many meetings are held at the Carnegie Science Center. Members are advised of club activities through our monthly newsletter "The Guide Star." Those with e-mail can subscribe to the club's email list, which provides real-time communications between members and up tothe moment reports on astronomical events. This is currently provided via Yahoo Groups and is maintained independently of these web pages. (If you are a current member of the AAAP and wish to be on the AAAP electronic mailing list, send your request to the membership secretary. Your membership status will be verified and you will be subscribed to the list. ) During the fair-weather months, members attend "star parties." Hundreds of visitors may gather to gain eyes-on experience at a wide variety of portable telescopes, including some very large models that give incredible views of celestial objects. Several informal "special interest groups" (S.I.G.) exist to discuss particular branches of astronomy. These groups meet as the interest dictates. Whether you are interested in deep-sky observing, astrophotography, occultations, or just basic observing, there is a special interest group for you. The AAAP has access to several rural observing sites in the Western Pennsylvania area that are excellent for viewing faint telescopic objects far from the interfering sky-glow caused by poorly designed electric lighting. Members have regular access to the club's own observatories, the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Regional Park (near Tarentum, Allegheny County), and the Mingo Creek Park Observatory in Mingo Creek Park (Washington County). Both facilities are located on hilltops as far away from major sources of "light pollution" as possible. The buildings feature a unique roll off roof design that shows almost the entire sky from inside the building. Special award certificates, such as the Messier, are offered to challenge members' observing skills and knowledge of the celestial map. Beginner's-level through advanced certificates are available. Many members join telephone calling groups, to be informed of any unexpected celestial phenomena. As a member of such a group, you may be called at any time of the day or night for surprise events such as the Aurora Borealis, a comet, a nova and even rainbows. Members can borrow club-owned equipment, such as telescopes, eyepieces and star charts, through the "AAAP Loan Procedure". The AAAP adheres to a member-approved Constitution and By-Laws. All members are eligible to run for any office.

Awards and Recognition

Clubs and Certification Programs


Education of the general public in the science and hobby of astronomy has always been a prime focus of the AAAP. Through public Star Parties at the Wagman Observatory and at Mingo Creek Park Observatory, lectures at area bookstores and nature centers, and scheduled classes; AAAP members spread the word about the fascinating and inspiring wonders in the nighttime sky.

External Links

Amateur Astronomers Assn. of Pittsburgh Website

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