Monroeville Library Looks to the Stars

By Zuchowski, Dave | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

Monroeville Library Looks to the Stars


Zuchowski, Dave, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Things are looking up for the Monroeville Public Library - at least for Friday evening. That's when the library will cap its Summer Reading Program with a free Star Party hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.

Beginning at 8:30 p.m., Fred Klein and at least two other AAAP members will set up three, large amateur telescopes at Beechwood Park, located on Ramsey Road behind Ramsey Elementary School in Monroeville.

"The telescopes should give viewers unbelievable views of the planets, the stars and nebulae," said Mr. Klein of Monroeville, an AAAP member since 1998 and a retired mechanical/electrical engineer. "Because there won't be a moon the evening of the star party, we may also be able to see some galaxies."

According to Mr. Klein, the most popular celestial object at the parties by far is the planet Saturn, followed by the moon. But viewers can also expect to see M13, a spectacular cluster of stars, and the Ring Nebula, which looks like a smoke ring in the sky.

With the naked eye, people should also be able to see some of the man-made satellites passing overhead and possibly the International Space Station. The Perseid Meteor Shower will peak from Sunday to Wednesday, but stragglers can linger for about a week after the peak period, giving people a chance to see a streaking meteor as well.

"We like to start before it gets dark to orient people to the location of the telescopes," Mr. Klein said. "They can stay as late as they want, but we generally go home around 10:30 p.m."

Throughout the evening, people can look at as many as 20 different celestial objects through the telescopes. They can also request to have the AAAP focus on a favorite object for closer viewing.

As people approach the telescopes, AAAP members will talk about the object in focus and answer any questions they might have. They also will distribute pamphlets about other AAAP Star Parties that list where and when they'll be held and what to expect at the site.

"Because the library is surrounded by some hills and trees, we scheduled the Star Party at Beechwood Park, less than 2 miles from the library," Pam Bodziock, teen services librarian, said. …

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