Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Birthday Astronomer: A Night at the Observatory

The Allegheny Observatory sits atop appropriately named Observatory Hill in Riverview Park. My first visit there was for Stars, Galaxies, and the Cosmos, a class I took because it was supposedly an "easy" A. Quickly I would learn that the study of astronomy and I are not compatible. Something - no - everything about astronomy simply dumbfounds me. That isn't to say I wasn't fascinated by it. I just could not figure it out for the life of me. And somehow - still managed to get B.

I returned to the Observatory two weeks ago to celebrate the 30th birthday of a dear friend, the supremely talented Eric Lidji. We were treated to a unique tour of the place provided by a friend who has been running around the observatory since he was a kid. His family's involvement with the historical landmark led to a the knowledge of every cool nook and cranny throughout the building. And I do mean throughout. We adventured through the stacks of journals, we entered the crypt in complete dark, and - this was a birthday celebration after all - we ate cake in the amazing tiered library.

Here are some photos from our night at the observatory:

Birthday Astronomer.

The view from above.

Dusty, approaching ancient volumes.

Love the spine of Baker's Astronomy.

Maps to...something? Maybe the moon?

Of course, I found an Allison-interest-appropriate box of astronomy journals.

Unlike whoever that Rowland may be, this Rowland did not fare well studying the sky.

The city.
We got to see Jupiter in one of the telescopes. It was oddly comforting to see it up there in the sky, inconceivably far away. It looked just like it does in all the astronomy books I sold when I was a salesrep for Pearson up in Boston. I may never understand it, but the stars, galaxies and cosmos will always be a fascinating thing.

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