Have A Celestial Weekend At Observatory’s Star Parties

May 13, 2016

Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes is hosting two star parties to encourage amateur stargazers to take part in Astronomy.
Credit ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement Judy Schmidt

The recent discovery of 1,284 new planets by NASA has increased interest in astronomy nationwide. And while many enjoy a clear night sky with stars too numerous to count, for some, stargazing is more than a hobby.

That includes Wagman Observatory Director Tom Reiland. He’s been an amateur astronomer for more than 40 years, is credited with finding a supernova and has a star cluster and comet named for him.

“I like to look for what we call the faint, fuzzy objects, the galaxies that are millions of lightyears away,” he said.

And for anyone else who shares Reiland’s love of stargazing, Wagman Observatory, located in Deer Lakes, is hosting two star parties starting at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. They’re taking place just ahead of International Astronomy Day on Sunday.

“(It’s) a perfect opportunity for those who have never been to a star party at Wagman Observatory to come out and learn about the night sky,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

Those who attend the star parties will be able to look through high-powered telescopes. The Manka Memorial 21-inch telescope and the Brashear 11-inch refractor are two of the most acutely refined telescopes in western Pennsylvania.

Many celestial objects will be visible for the star parties as well, including Jupiter and its satellites, the Coma-Virgo cluster, planetary nebulae, the spring constellations and several star clusters.