University of Pittsburgh
July 27, 2008

Pitt's Allegheny Observatory Open House Set for Oct. 3, Tickets Are Available Aug. 1

Tours allow public to explore Pittsburgh landmark, astronomy artifacts
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH- Explore the heavens and a historic scientific landmark during the Oct. 3 open house at the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory. The free open house is from 7 to 10 p.m. with groups entering every half-hour; reservations are required and tickets are available beginning at 9 a.m. Aug. 1.

During the open house, visitors can freely roam the observatory and peer into the night sky through the 30-inch Thaw Refractor telescope-a 47-foot telescope normally reserved for research. In addition, members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh will setup telescopes on the observatory lawn for the public. If the night is clear, guests can catch a close up of Jupiter through the 13-inch Fitz-Clark Refractor telescope. Constructed in 1861, the Fitz-Clark was the primary telescope for the first observatory and the third-largest telescope in the world when it was built. It enabled a number of early breakthroughs in astronomy, including visual proof that Saturn's rings comprise orbiting particulate.

As one of the world's major centers for astronomical research, the observatory houses one of the oldest and largest collections of photographic plates of star fields; the collection began in 1914 and now boasts more than 110,000 images. Unlike regular observatory tours, the open house allows people to browse through these plates and take self-guided tours of the observatory's research rooms.

The observatory is at 159 Riverview Ave., Riverview Park. Reservations are limited to six people per group and can be made by calling the observatory at 412-321-2400 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, visit the observatory's Web site at