Monday, May 2, 2016 (7 PM)
Where: Carnegie Mellon University Studio for Creative Inquiry (CFA-111)
What: Mars Interdisciplinary Studios Final Show (Mars Habitat)

Join our interdisciplinary class of students, made up of engineers, architects, scientists, designers, computer science majors and creative technologists, as we explore a concept for an inflatable/deployable (semi)autonomous greenhouse for Mars. The two courses “Building an Atmosphere” and “Responsive Mobile Environments” deal with both the structures and systems needed to sustain life in an extreme alien environment while engaging also in broader cultural interactions.

Panel Talk – Designing for Mars with guests from NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and NASA Ames. Followed by a presentation and exhibit of student work. Refreshments provided. This event is free and open to the public. Please pass along the invitation. All are welcome!

More Info:

Enjoy solar observing  with AAAP at the Carrie Furnaces Steel to Sustainable Festival on Saturday, 7 PM,  April 23, 2016. See Rivers of Steel for ticket prices.

The Carrie Furnaces (40.4130° N, 79.8907° W) Steel to Sustainable Festival  includes a 100th year anniversary of the hard hat art show, three bands and many food trucks. It is a ticketed event and supports the Carrie Furnace National Monument, part of the National Parks Service. AAAP members will offer safe solar viewing through solar filtered telescopes. AAAP members volunteer need to register prior to the event in order to get their gate pass. Those AAAP members who have not yet indicated their intention, may request a volunteer gate pass to through comments on the website by Friday.

The Carrie Furnaces 6 and 7 are extremely rare examples of pre-WW II ironmaking. They tower 92 feet high and have brick lined walls of  2.5″ thick steel plate. From 1907 to 1978 they provided iron for the Homestead Mill  and will become one of the focal points of the proposed Homestead Works National Park.

This event is an opportunity for not only astronomy outreach to our guests but also an opportunity for AAAP members to see a part of local history and to support an event which in turn supports a National Monument. Our National Parks celebrate 100 years this year.

rivers of steel a


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Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.


Sunspot Group AR 12192 of October 25, 2014. It was the largest sunspot in 24 years. Olympus Digital Camera. Photo Credit Dan Pedan

Large Sunspot Group AR 12192 of October 25, 2014. Olympus Digital Camera. Photo Credit Dan Pedan
The above image is the sort of view one will see through the member telescopes. AAAP member Dan, above caught an unusually  large sunspot.

Join in the family fun at Mt. Lebanon Earth Day and get hands-on experience looking through safe solar filtered telescopes.

Warning:  Never look directly at the Sun with or without a telescope. Permanent eye damage can result. Only safe specialized solar observing filters can shield the invisible damaging rays.

AAAP solar observing outreach will be featured again this year at the 2016 Mt. Lebanon Earth Day Celebration, 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, April 23, 2016 in Uptown Mt. Lebanon. AAAP is thrilled to return with an all new crew to this annual event sponsored by the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Team.  Click here for a list of sponsors and non-profits including AAAP participating in this fun event.

Terry Mealy is leading the AAAP delegation to Mt. Lebanon Earth Day. If you are an AAAP member and would like more information on how you can still volunteer at this event send an email or leave a comment on this website. Please finalize your arrangements at least 24 hours prior to the event. The event is free and open to the public.

Mt. Lebanon’s springtime outdoor celebration early on provided an excellent outreach opportunity for the then new Mingo Creek Park Observatory. While the established Wagman Observatory already decades in existence was well known and quite popular, Mingo Observatory faced the difficult task of while still completing their construction getting out the word of what they do and where they are. Some South Hills residents were already familiar with Wagman Observatory but to most it in the South Hills the likes of an AAAP observatory was an unknown concept. Situated in the South Hills, Mt. Lebanon Earth Day, less than a half hour from Mingo Observatory was a good dense population target for Mingo Observatory. With Mt. Lebanon serving as a metro center for other South Hills communities, Mt. Lebanon Earth Day drew  South Hills residents as well as Pittsburgh residents.  These spring weekend events such as Earth Day events fall at the right time to distribute the coming month’s star party schedules for both our observatories.  We encourage our members and our guests to attend events at Wagman and Mingo. Wagman is not much farther from Mt. Lebanon tha Mingo. We appreciate the opportunity to share astronomy and our star party schedules.

Star Party Schedules
Mingo Creek Park Observatory 2016:April 9, May 6 & 7, June 10 & 11, July 8 & 9, August 12 & 13, September 23 & 24, October 21 & 22, November 12. Downloadable schedule and map
Wagman Observatory 2016: April 15 & 16, May 13 & 14, June 10 & 11, July 8 & 9, August 12 & 13, September 10 & 24, October 8 & 22, November 5. Downloadable schedule and map





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Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.



M51WhirlpoolGalaxy, Photo Credit Bill snyder

Above M51 Whirpool Galaxy, Photo Credit Bill Snyder

Astrophotography of award-winning AAAP astrophotogrphers Bill Snyder and Matt Dieterich will be shown at the Art and Arifact  Market, 5-9 PM, West Wing Lobby of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center as part of the 2nd Annual 2016 Pittsburgh Earth Day.  The Art and Artifact Market celebration in the Lobby is free and open to the public and includes an evening of music, a curated art exhibit featuring local artists, organic and handmade vendors and activities for all ages. Enjoy the sounds and grooves from the DJ Detour crew during the event!

Matt Dieterich Glacier Park Milky Way

Above Glacier Park Milky Way Photo Credit Matt Dieterich

AAAP members and officers attending the event will have the opportunity to enjoy the astrophotography and to share their enthusiasm for astronomy, the club and light pollution awareness. All interested members and the public are invited. Because of the venue change from the Hall to the Lobby which had a direct path to a river shore convocation area and possible clouds and rain on Friday, telescope volunteers are in the process of being released from their commitments for Friday night viewing.  If the weather changes there may be an effort to share the sky Friday night.  The Sun sets after 8 PM and the April Near Full Moon Rises that night about a half hour later.  Venus is up until around 7 PM. Jupiter is overhead throughout the evening.   With the Sun setting late, the Near Full Moon rising early and the Pittsburgh lights skyline all but the brightest of objects (including the brightest of the peaking Lyrid meteors) will be out of view. Yet, there might be a spectacular April Near Full Moon Rise over the Pittsburgh Skyline at the culmination of the event.


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Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.

Star Trails Stamp

US Postal Service Star Trails at Mt. Rainier Stamp image released today features AAAPer Matt Dieterich’s stunning Astrophotograph of star trails over Mt. Rainier.

In the USPS Press Release today, Mr. Dieterich is quoted:

“This night was one I will never forget,” said Dieterich, who worked at Mount Rainier as an intern with the National Park Service Geoscientist-in-the-Parks to educate the public on dramatic views of the stars and the effect of light pollution near highly populated areas. “After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it.”

“The location was perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections,” he continued. “To create this star trails image I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.”

“To capture star trails photos just like this,” he added, “all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod and shutter release cable. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get out under the stars!”

Matt you make AAAP very proud and thrill us as you often share with us your skills and joy in astrophotography. Thank you for going on to spread our shared love of astronomy far afield.

The stunning US Postal Service Star Trails at Mt. Rainier Stamp is the 13th of 16 Forever Stamp images to be released over a three-week period in conjunction with the National Park Service 100th Anniversary celebration. Matt’s stamp will go on sale in June. Look for a June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony for the National Parks Forever Stamps pane at New York City’s Javits Center  as part of the world’s largest stamp show that only takes place in the United States once a decade, World Stamp Show-NY 2016.  Matt indicates he would be honored to make himself available to club members after the stamp release as he will do Friday evening 6 – 9 PM, April 22, 2015 at the Art and Local Market Place, West Lobby, David L Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA. Astrophotographs of Matt Dieterich and those of AAAPer Bill Snyder will be displayed there as part of the Pittsburgh Earth Day celebration.

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Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.