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September 11, 2003

Observatory opens for public viewing

Pitt’s Allegheny Observatory is accepting reservations to view Mars — currently as close to Earth as it’s been in 60,000 years — through its 13-inch Fitz-Clark telescope. Viewings will take place at 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays until Sept. 30.

The observatory also will hold its annual open house from 7 to 10 p.m., Oct. 3. The event is free, but reservations are required and can be made until Sept. 19 by calling 412/321-2400.

The open house is the only time visitors are allowed to use the observatory’s massive, 30-inch Thaw Refractor, the primary instrument of the Allegheny Observatory and the third-largest refracting telescope in the United States.

The Thaw telescope has allowed astronomers to study the distance to nearby stars, and Pitt researchers have used it to create more than 110,000 photographic plates as part of the observatory’s collection. Information gathered from the Thaw observations has helped determine the scale of the universe.

Visitors to the open house also will be able to use the Fitz-Clark telescope, and the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh will set up smaller telescopes on the observatory lawn.

The open house includes a slide presentation and self-guided tours of the observatory.

Allegheny Observatory is in Riverview Park, four miles north of Downtown Pittsburgh. More information is available at:

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 2

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