University of Pittsburgh
March 18, 2008

Summer Tours and Lecture Series at Pitt's Allegheny Observatory Showcase the Night Sky and Pittsburgh Landmark

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Explore the heavens and a historic scientific landmark this summer during public tours and lecture series hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory. Between April and November, curious sky gazers can roam the landmark observatory, peer at the stars through the observatory's oldest telescope, and hear expert portrayals of supernovae, dark energy, and asteroids.

Twice weekly observatory tours are planned. Friday night tours run from April 4 to Oct. 31; Thursday night tours begin May 1 and end Aug. 21. The two-hour tours begin at 8 p.m. and include a film presentation followed by a walking tour and a look 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 built. This telescope enabled a number of early breakthroughs in astronomy, including visual proof that Saturn's rings comprise orbiting particulate.

The observatory also hosts a public lecture every third Friday through November, with the next lecture scheduled for March 21. The lecture series features astronomers and physicists from Pitt and other institutions. Topics covered include putting asteroids to use, looking into deep space, and the significance of supernovae in creating new stars. The evening begins with refreshments at 7 p.m. with the lecture to start at 7:30 p.m., followed by a tour of the observatory.

All events are free, but reservations are required. To make reservations, call the observatory at 412-321-2400 between 1 and 5 p.m. Reservations for tours can include up to 45 people, including school groups. For lectures, the limit is six people per reservation.

The observatory is at 159 Riverview Ave., in Riverview Park. For event schedules and details, visit the observatory Web site at