Welcome to

Mingo Creek Park Observatory


Mingo Creek Park Observatory Starparty & Construction Reports:

Mingo Creek Park Observatory Starparties:   


The MCPO Committee is planning another great year of public starparties.
The 2004 dates are set (see AAAP Website), and the Mingo 'Pinksheet'
starparty pamphlets have been revised. Additionally, Washington County Parks has listed the 
AAAP starparties in their 2004 activities booklet.
Due to observatory and road construction, the observatory grounds and
pavilion will be unavailable for the first several months of the starparty
season. Therefore, the committee has moved the location of the April
Starparties to the adjacent ball-field and pavilions located further up the
main access road, around the horseshoe bend.
(directional signs will be posted at the observatory road gate).
At this date, the location of the May starparties is undecided.
(the ball-field is unavailable in May).
We'll get back to you at a later date with the new location of the May

As last year, in addition to our telescopes, we will be setting up
astronomy display boards and  computer slide shows in the pavilions.
New for this year will be short beginner presentations by AAAP staff
members. We have purchased a green laser pointer for use by presenters at Mingo
starparties, and are looking into getting additional AV equipment for use
inside the pavilions (they have electricity).

If anyone is interested in participating on the Mingo Creek Park
Observatory Committee, or helping out at the Mingo Starparties,
please contact one of the Committee members.


Hi all,

The AAAP's 2004 starparties at Mingo Creek Park got off to a successful start this weekend. 
The weather kept the number of AAAP and public attendees down, but both nights saw a number 
of public show up specifically for the starparty, and several expressed their intent to join 
the AAAP.

While Friday (042304) looked to be a wash out, a group of AAAP members arrived around 7:00 pm 
and setup the astronomy displays and AV in the pavilion.
Amazingly, around sunset, the skies began to clear, and while remaining hazy for the rest of 
the evening, allowed us to observe the Moon, planets, and a few deep sky objects. 
About 12 - 15 public showed up and enjoyed the telescopes, displays, and several presentations.
('Introduction to Stargazing', and 'Intro to the Moon' by Larry McHenry, and
'Ursa Major - The Great Bear' by Dan McKeel).
AAAP members on hand include: Dan McKeel, Mike Meteney, Jeff Marsh, Larry McHenry, 
Gerard Schuster, George Guzik, Dick Haddad, and Mark Arelt.

For awhile Saturday (042404) looked like it was going to be a great evening,
but ended up being a reverse of Friday nite. Soon after sunset, a band of thickening clouds 
rolled in from the west and shutdown the telescope observing.
But, not before we had a chance to show the early arriving public the Moon, Venus, Jupiter,
and Saturn. Once again the displays and presentations at the pavilion kept the evening going. 
The number of public in attendance was estimated at between 24 and 30 people.
AAAP members present include: Dan McKeel, Gerard Schuster, Jeff Marsh, Mike Meteney, 
Dick Haddad, Rich & Peter Urban, Larry McHenry, Becky Nichols, Vern Cox, and Benjamin Tsai.
Brand new member Jeff S?????, who was at the starparty Friday nite, printed off a member 
application from the club website and mailed it, was also back on Saturday evening.

Submitted by Larry McHenry

Below are a few photos from the starparty, also included are a couple of old images showing 
the outside of the pavilion, and the side field where we had several telescopes setup, 
and part of the 'Intro to Stargazing' was conducted on Friday night. (green lasers are great!)


Hi all,

The weather again was not very cooperative for the AAAP's May public starparties. 
With severe storms moving in, the Friday starparty was canceled.
Saturday's starparty went as scheduled, but again, threats of severe weather kept the 
attendance (both AAAP & public) down.
On hand, 8 to 10 AAAP members helped out by setting up the astro displays in the pavilion, 
and manning telescopes out in the field.
About 20 public attended throughout the night.
In addition to a well received astronomy presentation by Dan McKeel in the pavilion, 
the attendees were treated to views of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, miscellaneous deep sky 
objects, and Comet Neat.
Below is a report from MCPO member Dan McKeel:

The May 22 2004 Star party at Mingo Creek Park went on despite "storm of
the century" warnings from the weather people. The pavilion hosted
about a dozen members of the public who were given a basic introduction
to stargazing, and provided with the clubs brochures, and handouts. The
seeing report as provided by Vern Cox said the sky was clear and seeing was
good, but got worse as the evening progressed. The members with scopes
up on the hill provided fine views, and showed the public the current
comets which several attendees mentioned when they returned back to the pavilion. 
It was quite amazing how clear the sky did get.
Some nice ladies for the University Association (?) donated an astronomy
theme rug to the observatory which will be displayed as a wall hanging
when the building is complete.
(Dan didn't get the names of the two ladies, so if anyone knows who they are, 
please pass that info on to us, so we can properly credit them).

Below are a few photos of the pavilion by Dan McKeel:
(including the 'astro rug' donation!).

pavilion astro displays:
'astro rug'


Finally, a reminder to club members,

Please remember to observe the AAAP club rule in regards to smoking.
No smoking is permitted on the observing field during starparties.
Please be considerate of those around you, and their telescope optics.
Thank you.

Submitted by Larry McHenry



Hi all,

While the weather didn't cooperate for the AAAP's Friday night public starparty at Mingo Creek 
Park, AAAP members Chrissie Chojnicki, George Guzik, Dan McKeel, Al Paslow, Joe Bergandy, 
Larry McHenry, Gerard Schuste, Ed Moss, Dave Smith, and DIck Haddad setup displays in the 
pavilion and greeted the half-dozen public who attended in spite of the clouds.

Saturday evenings starparty promised clear skies, and a good number of AAAP members again 
staffed the pavilion and setup telescopes in multiple locations on site by the pavilion, 
along the road, and at the top of the hill near the partly built observatory building.
(George Guzik, Al Paslow, Les Johnson, Dave Smith, Larry McHenry, Ed Moss, Mark Arelt, 
Mike Meteney, Dan McKeel, Dick Haddad, Gerard Schuste, Shane Connellry, Chrissie Chojnicki, 
Mike Fallon, Jeff Kerns, Shawn van Mastrigt, and several other members who didn't sign in or 
I can't read their handwriting)
Two well attended astronomy presentations were given at the pavilion by Larry McHenry. 
('Introduction to the Moon', and 'Stargazing')
Several public guests brought their own telescopes and club members pitched in and helped 
with questions they had on using them.

The number of public attendees was estimated at about 60.
(49 'officially' clicked on the counter, but several car loads were missed).
As previously mentioned, in addition to drawing a local crowd, 
we had attendees from Brownsville, Belle Vernon, and even Uniontown.

The attendees were treated to views of the 1st quarter Moon, the planet Jupiter, 
and miscellaneous deep sky objects. Also observed were several sporadic meteors, and the 
spectacular rocket reentry and burnup.

Soon after 10:30 pm patchy clouds started to roll in, and by 11:00, the sky was mostly cloudy. 
As all of the public had left at that point, AAAP members packed up the pavilion displays 
and most left by midnite.

Images from Saturday's Starparty:
(sorry I didn't make it up to the observing locations).

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi all, Friday started out as a beautiful clear day, but of course after setting up for the AAAP starparty at Mingo, deteriorated into a hazy summer night. The early evening hours remained somewhat clear, but soon after 10:30 pm, the skies steadily thickened with wisps of haze. The early arrivals were treated to daylight views of the observatory construction, with MCPO Committee members on hand to answer questions. As dusk fell, AAAP member Larry McHenry gave an 'Intro to Stargazing presentation at the pavilion. Helping work the astronomy displays and greet the public were Dan McKeel and Tim Manka. Mike Meteney and Ed Moss setup their telescopes near the pavilion to help out. The public attendees, (estimated at about 30), stuck it out till after the second ISS pass (which was still bright thru all the haze) at about 11:15 pm, them most left. By 12:30 am the few club members who had stuck it out were rewarded with a clearing, and were able to observe the summer Milky-Way in a dark southern sky. AAAP members Chrissie Chojnicki, George Guzik, Al Paslow, Joe Bergandy, Gerard Schuster, Dave Smith, Shawn van Mastright, Greg Shephard, Jeff Kerns, Ann Norman, Dan Kleppner, Frank Usureski, Fred Klein, Trever Lewis, Jeff Marsh, Larry Sneider, and Chris Genovese setup telescopes on the observatory hill.


Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi all,

Well, as you all can surmise from last night's weather, the Saturday starparty at Mingo was a
bust, observation wise. But we did have 16 public attendees showup and review the astronomy 
displays in 
the pavilion, and were interested in learning more about the AAAP,
our starparties, and the new observatory.
They left happy with starparty brochures and StarWheel finders.
AAAP members Dan McKeel and Larry McHenry, with help from Becky Nichols, worked the pavilion, 
while members Dave Smith, Les Johnson, Ed Moss, Dick Haddad, Shawn and Frank van Mastright, 
and Gerald Schuster were up on the observatory hillside with several telescopes.


Progress on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek moved forward this week at a slower pace. 
The contractor (Waller Corp), completed installing the roof wood mounting plates to all of the 
walls. Most of the scaffling has been removed, 
(except for that being used in the refractor room for installing the track),
and left-over construction material cleaned up from the planetarium room and other parts of 
the structure.

The metal roof tracks were delivered and work has begun on installing them along the walls 
of the reflector and refractor rooms.

This coming week should see the railing work completed, and work start on the wood sidewalls, 
roof trusses and plywood roof.

Here's a few images from today (Saturday July 10th, 2004):

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Attendance was low but we still had some nice clear sky even better after the 
Moon set. It is nice to be able to pick out objects in Sagittarius nude eye. 
I would suspect that because of the weather reports people were holding off 
until tonight.  We had at lest 9 or ten members and maybe only five public. As 
in the past some of us were set up in the Pavilion with some telescopes beside 
it and half of us were on the hilltop.  One person, that lives near by, showed 
up as we were closing up after 1:00AM.

Everyone was again impressed with the size of the building.  The trusses are 
now stacked near by along with the sheving and roofing paper ready to go up 
once all the concrete for the floor is poured.

Dave Smith


We had a nice turn out of members with around twenty telescopes. There were 
around thirty or forty visitors.  The ones I asked had seen it mentioned in the 
Post Gazette.  Most of us setup on the hilltop while a few set up next to the 
pavilion.  We also had some presentations there.  Saw the ISS and a few other 
satellites.  Even before the Moon set we were able to show objects again in 
Sagittarius.  A few members stay well into the early morning.

Dave Smith


Hi all,

Well, if you stayed home Friday night due to the weather, no one can blame you.
The clouds kept progressively rolling in during the early evening hours, leading up
eventually to a short shower. But after the sprinkles stopped, around 9:30 pm, 
it began to quickly clear off. Those of us who were still left were treated to 
spectacular views of the Milky-Way running from the NE in Cassiopeia, up overhead thru Cygnus, 
down thru Aquilia, to the dark horizon along the S - SW in Sagittarius and Scorpius. 
The rift in Cygnus was prominent, along with the star clouds in Scutum and in the Sagittarius  
'teapot'. We were even treated to an occasional meteor, and a nice satellite pass. 
The AAAP members present (see below), setup displays in the pavilion, 
and several telescopes on the observatory hill, which was appreciated by the six public 
attendees. Hopefully, tonight it will clear early, so more folks will be inspired to visit
the Mingo Creek Observatory site.

Submitted by Larry McHenry

AAAP members who 'Signed-in'.

Larry McHenry
Mike Meteney
John Diller
George Guzik
Gerard Schuster
Trevor Lewis
Chrissie Chojnicki
Ed Moss
Dave Smith
Les Johnson
Al Torcaso


Hi all,

While the weather seemed more promising during the day on Saturday,
the evening proved to be one of our seemly normal typical starparty nights:
partly cloudy and hazy! (are we ever going to get out of this rut! [;)]   )
But the 20 AAAP members present at the Saturday starparty at the Mingo Creek Observatory site 
still managed to show many celestial wonders thru their telescopes to the 41 public attendees.

Down at the pavilion, member Chrissie Chojnicki gave an 'Introduction to the Moon' talk, 
followed by Larry McHenry with a presentation on 'Stargazing'.
After the talks, Chrissie and Larry demonstrated how to use the Star Finder handouts, 
and using the club's green laser pointer, located several constellations and bright stars thru
the haze. 
Both talks were well attended by the public, who afterwards enjoyed the astronomical displays 
and av inside the pavilion, with AAAP member Gerry Schuster answering many questions related 
to astronomy, the AAAP, and the new observatory. 
Assisting Gerry were AAAP parking attendants Brad Kusman and Mark Orsatti.

In addition to globular starclusters and nebula, one of the highlights of the evening was a 
bright Iridium flare pass in the NE.

Here's a few images from the starparty:


Here's a few images of the latest construction:


AAAP members who 'Signed-in'.

Larry McHenry
Mark Arelt
Chrissie Chojnicki
Brad Kusman
Mark Orsatti
Craig Lang
Gerard Schuster
Ken Sachs
Jeff Marsh
Mike Meteney
John Diller
Ed Moss
Dan Reed
Dave Smith
Jeff Dimitroff
Frank Usouski
George Pilipovich
Al Rusher
Fadi Francis
(one member who I can't read their writing - sorry)


Submitted by Larry McHenry


We had around 8 members help out and around ten guest.  A couple were from 
Uniontown and remember Bret Hudock from high school, sorry Brent I forgot his 
name. There was also people from Greensburg and Bethel Park.  The sky looked 
promising at sunset but only offered a few gaps until around 10:30 then we had 
some slow clearing and showed the Moon.  Most had left when it finally did 
really clear.  However we were still able to show M-22, M17, M6, M11 and the usual 
such as M27, M57, M-13, M31, M32.  We could hear the fireworks from the game 
or Kennywood?

The building now has the main part under cover with truss, sheathing and 
roofing paper.  The Planetarium room, refractor room are yet to be covered. The 
moving part of the reflector room is still yet to get it's roof.  Sure looks BIG!

Dave Smith  


Hi all,

As usual, the clear weather forecasted for our Saturday night starparty was off by about 
12 hours. Right after the 5:00 pm rain shower, the fog immediately began to build, giving us 
a 'fogparty'. The only stars visible to the naked eye were those of the Summer Triangle. 
(Vega, Deneb, and Altair).
We were able to observe one deep-sky object. Dan McKeel located Epsilon Lira (Double Double)
in his new Stellervue refractor.
The highlight of the evening was an amazingly visible satellite pass near Vega at 
about 9:00 pm. (bet it would have been a bright one under clear skies!)
The fog really threw a damper on our attendance, with only three public showing up. 
Many thanks to the AAAP members who still showed up and setup their scopes.

AAAP members who 'Signed-in'.

Larry McHenry
Mike Meteney
John Diller
George Guzik
Gerard Schuster
Dan McKeel
Chrissie Chojnicki
Ed Moss
Dave Smith
Les Johnson


Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi all,

Finally!!!  The weather gods took pity and gave us two decent starparty nights.
While both nights were a little on the dewy side, with an occasional scattered cloud, 
the views overhead and to the southern horizon were outstanding.
Friday night was probably the better night, transparency wise. it's only downside was the 
bright glow to the SE from the football game at Ringgold HS, and a early evening patch of 
clouds obscuring the Scorpius / Sagittarius area.
Once the game ended, and the clouds dissipated, the rest of the evening was quite good. 
Saturday night, we weren't bothered by the distant stadium lights,
but the skies seemed to be a bit more hazy than the night before.
Both nights, the AAAP members and public in attendance were treated to bright 
passes of the ISS. 
(luckily, both events occurred right after my pavilion presentation on the constellations, 
and while I was outside pointing out the stars with the club's green laser).
Friday night saw 43 public in attendance, Saturday's attendees numbered 38.

Many thanks to the AAAP members who showed up and setup their scopes.

AAAP members who 'Signed-in'.

Friday night: (19 AAAP members)

Larry McHenry
Mike Meteney
John Diller
George Guzik
Gerard Schuster
Dan McKeel
Chrissie Chojnicki
Dave Smith
Allen Tracht
Molly Campbell
Mike Campbell
Margart Jennings
Rick Ransil
Rae L Ransil
Jeff Marsh
Al Paslow
Joe Begundy
Mark Kessler
Ken Sacks

Saturday night: (16 AAAP members)

Larry McHenry
Mike Meteney
John Diller
Gerard Schuster
Dan McKeel
Dave Smith
Mark Kessler
Jeff Dimitroff
Shawn Van Mastright
Franck Van Mastright
Craig Lang
Rob Preston
Kevin Prykull
Chris Genovese
Gene Henderson
Ron Mahinske 

Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi All,

Just want to remind everyone that we have a starparty this Saturday
at the Mingo Creek Park Observatory site.
Since there is no starparty this weekend at Wagman, here's your last chance to
drive down to Mingo and observe the Sagittarius / Scutum 'Milky-Way' from the
dark southern skies of the Mingo Creek Park Observatory grounds.

As a bonus, for the first time, we will be using the actual observatory
building to host all the activities of the starparty.
This will be your chance to 'preview' the AAAP's newest observatory,
and check out the future planetarium and members rooms.
We will be setting up the club's 10" D&G refractor on it's field tripod
inside the refractor room, and putting the club's 17" Dob in the reflector room,
and rolling back both roofs for observing.
Additionally, we will move the pavilion displays & presentations to inside
the planetarium room.

Come early, and see the latest progress on the AAAP's newest observatory,
that we'll be officially opening to the public next spring.

For driving directions, see the 'Facilities' page on the main AAAP website:
or the Mingo Creek Park Observatory homepage:



Hi all,

As usual, the first cloudy night in the past week occurs on a starparty nite!
But AAAP members present didn't let that minor detail curb the excitement of
actually using the new observatory for the first public event.
MCPO Committee members setup the club's 10" D&G refractor on it's field tripod in the 
refractor room, and the club's modified 17.5" Coulter Dobsonian in the reflector room. 
Additionally, the astronomy displays and AV was setup inside the planetarium room, 
and a temporary reception desk was staffed in the reception area at the main entrance.


The night observing wasn't a total loss, as we were able to show the 30 public attendees 
a few objects through the occasional holes in the cloud deck.
A group of girl scouts were very appreciative of the star wheel handouts and the
presentation on constellations.

Many thanks to the 16 AAAP members who assisted:

Mike Meteney
John Diller
Joanne Diller
George Guzik
Gerard Schuster
Dan McKeel
Larry McHenry
Chrissie Chojnicki
Mark Arelt
Al Paslow
Ed Moss
Mark Kessler
Larry Sneider
Gene Kulalowski
Charlotte Tunney
Jim Tunney

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi to all,

As reported by Larry McHenry we had great time with our Mingo Star Party! 
Telescopes were setup within the walls of the observatory and a number of members and 
visitors attended.

The weather did not cooperate for much of the evening with only occasional cloud breaks. 
However, we wereable so show some visitors, Vega, Altair, Albireo, and other objects as 
they poked in and out of the cloud banks.

A few of us started just after 10 am Saturday morning and met at Mike Meteney's home to 
transport both  the 10 inch refractor and the 17.5 inch Dobsonian reflector. 
Mike lives just a short distance from the park.

The 10 inch refractor mounting had previously been dismantled and  the lens cell, finder, 
focuser & mounting plate removed from the tube  for storage.

We needed to separate the tripod legs from the equatorial mount. 
This required quite a large pipe wrench which Mike had acquired for this project. 
He had them in only two sizes - super large and super heavy and just super large and plain 
old heavy!

We placed the telescope mount in Mike's pickup while the tube, all secured in pop-able bubble 
wrap was placed in Ed's van. Off to Mingo we go!

Here's what you do with tripod legs longer than the length of your trucks bed, as Ed looks on!

Removing the telescope tube from Ed's van:

After unloading  we began to assemble the tripod. Ed & Mike pose for this shot:

Shortly after we started working on the 10 inch refractor it became obvious that the roof 
needed to be opened. 
Some problems with binding of the shingles occurred preventing us from opening fully the 
roof of the refractor room. 
While Mike attended to the roofing situation the refractor assembly continued. 

Refractor Equatorial mount and  tube backing plate, etc - along with the ?super large and 
plain old heavy pipe wrench!

Assembled tripod with Ed, Mike and Larry Sneider, club member & electrician on far right.

Ed and I worked on two separate ladders while Larry handed up the heavy parts. 
Hey Ed, someone asked Do you think the telescope will clear the roof when we put the tube in 

Ed was well aware of this and  Larry  Sneider was able
to use what  appears to be a portable band saw and cut
a full 14 inches off of each tripod leg.  ( see Larry
McHenry?s e-mail images )  By this time more club
members arrived to help us. We tilted the giant mount
up against the slide of the building and held on as
the cuts were made. Larry Sneider did a fantastic
cutting job!!

The  next item was to install the 10 inch main
objective lens and the mount the focuser plate
Here Ed Moss examines the 10 inch D & G lens  & mount?

Ed, myself and Larry McHenry mounted the lens

At the other end of the telescope tube; a spider was
found living in the baffles and was cleaned  out with
a yard stick!

After mounting the tail piece which contains  the
backing plate and focuser this shot was taken - left
to right: Ed , Larry Sneider,Mike Meteney, Larry
McHenry and Chrissy Chojnicki. 

The completed telescope, finder & all:

As reported, Chrissy and Mike repaired the mirror
mount on the 17.5 inch which was then ready for 
mirror installation. 

More shots:

Club president George Guzik,  joins us at the 17.5
inch telescope:

Visitors enjoy the view in the 10 inch!

Some club member shots:



In all this has been a very satisfying experience.
Thanks to all who attended. Hope to see you next time
at the  Mingo Park Observatory!

Al Paslow
Member Mingo Obs. Committee.


Hi All,

Not much to report for Saturday's starparty at Mingo.
With the heavy cloud cover, threatening rain, and no public attendees present,
Ed Moss and I decided at 7:00 pm to call it quits.
We locked the building up and went home.

Our last starparty this year at Mingo is Wednesday's Lunar Eclipse.
The event officially starts at 8:00 pm, but come early and see the building. 

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi to all,

Despite the occasional cloud cover that  lingered
about the heavens we had a wonderful Lunar eclipse
party at  Mingo Creek Park Observatory.! A number of
members attended  and  the general public are now
making inquisitive appearances.

Earlier yesterday, I was in Washington, Pa on business
matters; and at 3:00 PM I arrived at the observatory
to check progress and  snap a few images of  our
painting crews in action. The boys were wrapping
things up, however and a  conversation with Jason
(from the painting contracting company) yielded the
following information - the outside paint work has
been completed. That means the block sealer has been
applied  and the final coats of paint top coat are
finished. As reported by Larry McHenry the building
now has a nice reflective blue gray appearance and
should protect our concrete block for years to come.

Painting on the inside of the building is now
underway. The ante room to the 10 inch refractor
telescope was just completed as I arrived, with a nice
final coat of epoxy ( Oh, no what about our star party
tonight and drying times!!) It sure does look good!

Jason and the ante room:

Upon further exploration of the building, I was
pleasantly  surprised to see Flacc Stifel and Wade
Barbin measuring up a storm in the 24 inch telescope
room for roof retraction concerns. Flacc had brought
old Wagman Observatory roof mechanism plans showing
the gears, chain, etc.  assemblies. These will be used
in conjunction with analysis with our present  railed
roof design to come up with a smooth - safe retraction
system that will work best.

Here Mike Meteney (l) joins Flacc  Stifel (middle) and
Wade Barbin ( r):

As an added surprise, Wade & Flacc brought a 16 inch
RC telescope, tube shown and mirrors in boxes:

Flacc, Wade & Mike outside our freshly painted
observatory: ( Flacc, I hope you aren?t doing a rain
dance for tonight!! )

As I left, in anticipation of returning for the
eclipse, I had to stop at the bottom of the hill to
the Mingo Observatory  and  shot this fine scene of
the Henry Bridge. If you ever visit Mingo Creek Park
Observatory  this bridge is a must see don?t miss it 

Lunar Eclipse Party:

Here are some images of guests looking at the eclipse 
at the 10 inch refractor:







Larry McHenry did his usual outstanding  performance
not only by slide presentations but recorded the
eclipse by video camera. Of course the image was
available  and presented on  TV screen  for amazed

Here Larry entertains a group outdoors:

Larry inside:

Here?s some images of club members:

Dan Kleppner, at the 10 inch:

Les Johnson:

Ed Moss, MCPO Committee director, sights in the
eclipsed moon  for guests:

Harry McHenry??Yep, Looks pretty good.? !!

Chrissie Chojnicki, of the MCPO Committee enjoys the

? and hey, that?s me, Al Paslow, I get a look too!!

Various images of observers in the 24 inch reflector



More visitors observing the eclipse:

The sky began to clear nicely after totality and after
our guests left; Dave Smith and I decided to take
advantage of the clear sky and the totally eclipsed
moon and look for deep sky objects with the 10 inch
refractor. Before long  we observed  Albireo, M-27 ,
M-15, the double cluster in Perseus,  the Pleiades and
even got a good look at M-42 rising  in Orion all
during a full moon!!! The images were good and crisp.
A 55mm eyepiece provides us with just more than about 
? degree field of view and  yielding something just
short of 60x. Nice for the eclipse viewing!  Just wide
enough to see both of the star clusters together in
the double cluster and many of the Pleiades in the
same field of view. Not bad for a 120 inch focus f-12
This gave us and other remaining members very nice
views and our first real chance to really use the 10
inch refractor. Our opinion?.. ?We?re happy.?

We closed up shop, but it must have taken 6 of us to
close that roof on the 10 inch telescope, as  stated 
the mechanisms are on their way.

Lastly, We all had a great time. Thanks to everyone
who came & attended.

In the sense of great exploration among the stars,
please click on the following link.
I feel the result will bring pleasant smiles to those
of you who remember and is a tribute the end of a 
great night of space exploration.


Good day,

Al Paslow, 
Mingo Creek Park Observatory Member.


Along the same theme,

There was a Lunar eclipse in the 70's that took place after midnight and some 
lady was reported to have called a planetarium, not here, to complain and ask 
if the eclipse couldn't be scheduled earlier next time so the kids wouldn't 
have to stay up as late.

We were interrupted some with clouds at Mingo but did get to see most of it 
and do some deep sky observing.  We had a respectable crowd there, not as large 
as Wagman, including some people from Uniontown, Houston and Cannonsburg.  
The 10" refractor inside the building was a popular attraction.   Larry McHenry 
had a telescope set up with a video monitor and a PP presentation on AAAP 
until the battery power waned.  We also had several instruments set up in the 
reflector room and a few on the lawn.  

Dave Smith


Hi All,

As previously reported by Dave Smith and Al Paslow, the last AAAP starparty of the year at 
the Mingo Creek Park Observatory was a success!
Thanks to the help of the 15 club members present (see list below), we were able to push open
the roofs and operate telescopes in both wings for the 72 public visitors in attendance. 
(can't wait till we install the gear systems).

The evening started off promising, but a band of clouds steadily progressed out of the 
southwest, eventually obscuring the early to mid portions of the partial eclipse phase. 
Thankfully, there were plentiful suckerholes to allow us to follow the eclipse progress. 
Finally, a few minutes prior to the onset of totality, like the curse of the bambino, 
the clouds lifted and allowed us to observe the total eclipse.

Here's a few photos of the night:

What a great starparty to end the season!

Submitted by Larry McHenry



Hi all,

Here are some pics from Mingo Creek Observatory.  
These were taken at the "dawn" of our first Star Party opening.  
This is first attempt at utilizing this website.  Hope it works!

And through this door, the magic will begin.....

Hey, were did that mirror go?

Work in progress:

Now, that's more like it.

I think this screw goesssss  here.

Are you sure this tube is balanced?

More pics:

Darn...it's not balanced:

Easy does it.

I hope I didn't drop my wrench in here...

Chrissie Chojnicki

Mingo Creek Park Observatory Construction:   


1) Construction news:

Observatory Building -
With the winter weather finally starting to break, the MCPO Committee is
moving forward with the observatory construction plans.
(see diagrams at the AAAP website 'Facilities' page ).
The building blueprints have been finalized, and a bid specification
document written and revised. We have received final approval from Nottingham Township, 
Washington County to begin construction.
After final approval from the AAAP Executive Committee, we will be letting
the project out to bid and selecting a builder.
We are looking to begin construction of the building structure sometime in
the mid to late April timeframe, with the building completed sometime in
mid to late June. To help keep costs down, we will do all the painting, and
the electrical work (under supervision of a qualified Electrician).
Observatory dedication is tentatively planned for late July. If you would
like to volunteer to help work on the observatory, please contact MCPO
Committee Chair Ed Moss.

Observatory Road -
While the main road construction was completed at the end of the fall
construction season, the road still needs finishing work.
This work, and the creation of the required parking area will be completed
after the principle building construction is done.
Additionally, the park access road will be rebuilt by the Washington County
Parks after the AAAP has finished it's heavy construction.

2) Telescope news:

The AAAP purchased a 10" D&G refractor for use at MCPO. Having been authorized
by the AAAP Executive Committee, this past weekend MCPO committee members
Ed Moss and Mike Meteney paid for and picked up the 10" D&G refractor that AAAP
member Nick Martch had offered to sell to the AAAP.
The telescope is currently being stored by Mike until the observatory
building construction is completed later this spring.
As is, the telescope and mount can be used manually, and once a drive
system donated by committee member Dan McKeel has been modified and installed on
the mount, it will be able to track celestial objects.

Several options are still being explored for the reflector telescope at the
observatory. The committee is working on plans to adapt the 16" 'Autoscope' that
was purchased last year from the CSC.
The mounting and the holder for the secondary optics is being redesigned.
The goal is to have the telescope in working condition sometime late this
summer or early fall.

Additionally, the committee has applied for a state grant specifically to
purchase a Parallax Instruments 24" Ritchey-Chretien goto telescope.
If we are successful in receiving this grant (a real possibility),
this telescope will replace the Autoscope as the observatory's primary
instrument. The RC will be our primary visual instrument for public starparties,
and used as a first class regional educational tool.
It will also give us research grade instrument capabilities for serious
amateur research projects, for which the committee is presently putting
together a list of potential candidate projects.
The 16" Autoscope will still be utilized by mounting it on wheels, allowing
us to roll it out onto the observatory grounds for public starparties.


Here's a photo of the committee hard at work during tonight's meeting.
    (photo by Larry McHenry)

The bid specification has been finalized, and we will be letting
the project out to bid by the end of the week.

We are looking to begin construction of the building structure sometime in
the mid to late April timeframe, with the building completed sometime in
mid to late June, or early July.

Groundbreaking for the new building is tentatively scheduled for May 1st.
(details to follow)

The MCPO Committee has identified several amateur research projects.
These include:

1) Solar research - tracking sunspots and imaging active regions. (AAVSO & ALPO)
2) Variable Star Photometry. (AAVSO)
3) Supernovae hunting in galaxies. (AAVSO)
4) Lunar Occultation's. (ALPO)
5) Surveillance patrols of Jupiter and Saturn's cloud bands. (ALPO)
6) Search for NEO's (Earth crossing asteroids)
7) Search for Extrasolar planets. (seriously). There is actually a group of amateurs presently 
conducting 'transit' searches for other planets.
Here's the website:   http://www.transitsearch.org/
(they're using 8" & 10" off the shelf SCT's!).

We will continue to build a list of possible projects and what equipment might be needed. 
After we get the observatory up and running we will look for volunteers to headup a 'research' 

If you would like to volunteer to help work on the observatory,
please contact MCPO Committee Chair Ed Moss. 


The Mingo Creek Park Observatory project recently took several steps forward. 
In late March, Requests for Quotation for construction of the facility were sent to two 
construction firms.  Each RFQ package included a Bid Specification prepared by Flacc Stifel 
and Ed Moss and included a set of drawings for the MCPO facility.

Representatives from the construction firms visited Wagman Observatory on April 12 
to participate in a "walk-down" of the facility.  
MCPO utilizes many of the design features of NEWO.  T
he walk-down afforded the prospective bidders the opportunity to review in-person the design 
of NEWO and the details of its construction.  It also gave them an opportunity to ask
questions related to the RFQ packages.

Sealed bids for construction of MCPO are due back to the AAAP by April 26.
The bids will be opened at the Executive Committee meeting planned for May 2.

submitted by George Guzik.

Below is a series of recent site images taken on April 9th, detailing the new road and 
work done to clear the site of scrub growth.
(the last 3 are of the April 23-24 starparty site).
At the April 19th MCPO meeting, I will show a video 'tour' of the site.
(bring your own popcorn  [;)]   )

    (photos by Larry McHenry)


Hi All,

The MCPO Committee met last night to plan for the upcoming starparties and
continue construction preparations.
Additionally, committee members welcomed back to Pittsburgh our chief
fund-raiser Dick Haddad, from his Florida winter residence.
The committee reviewed preliminary cost estimates for running electricity
to the new building, insurance for both the construction phase and general
occupation of the new facility, and current MCPO budget income and
expenses. Also discussed was Ed Moss's upcoming trip to the US Navel
Observatory to see a similar RC telescope that we are considering for MCPO.

The April 23rd & 24th starparty plans were finalized.
Weather permitting, we will be setting up telescopes near the ball-field, and displays inside 
the first pavilion located just past the old stone house on the left side of the road. 
Friday's weather prediction is not looking favorable,
but as long as it is not severe weather, the astronomy displays will be setup and several 
members (Dan McKeel and Larry McHenry) will be making presentations inside the pavilion.

The committee also reviewed digital photos (Mike Meteney) and a video tour
(Larry McHenry) of the observatory site.

Finally, plans were made for the official observatory ground-breaking,
scheduled for Saturday May 8th, at 2:00 PM.
Committee members and any other interested club members will be arriving at
noon to prepare the observatory site pavilion for refreshments and speaker

Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi All,

Today was the AAAP's groundbreaking ceremony for the new MCPO Observatory.
The weather gods smiled on us with a partly sunny, warm, dry day.
Even the hillside dried out from yesterday's rains, and allowed us to access.

At 2:00 pm, MCPO Committee Chairman Ed Moss, serving as Master of Ceremonies, 
began the pavilion program by welcoming the approximate 85 AAAP members and guest in 
attendance, and gave a brief history of the 'South Hills Observatory' project. 
Ed introduced the Reverend Bill Roemer, who gave an invocation for the event. 
AAAP President George Guzik then reviewed the AAAP's club history.
Then AAAP MCPO Committee member Dick Haddad made a few inspiring statements,
followed by various remarks from Washington County Commissioners Lawrence Maggi, 
and J. Bracken Burns, and the Director of Washington County Parks, Lisa Cessna.

The pavilion program ended with two special presentations.
First was Lou Waller Jr, representing the Washington Federal Foundation, who presented 
the AAAP with a check for $10,000.
Then the Honorable State Representative John Maher announced that the AAAP has been 
awarded a $100,000 grant from the State of Pennsylvania for purchasing a 24" RC telescope!
(the audience expressed their appreciation via applause at both announcements).

The MCPO Committee members, invited guests, and AAAP members in attendance, 
then proceeded up the road to the top of the hill for the actual 'Digging of Dirt'.

The ground was broken with the use of two special shovels for the occasion.
The original shovel used in the Nicholas E Wagman Observatory groundbreaking in 1987, (
spruced up for the event), and a new gold MCPO shovel.

MCPO Chairman ED Moss and AAAP President George Guzik paired with the government dignitaries 
present and broke ground for the new observatory.
Afterwards, members of the MCPO Committee and other AAAP members there took turns at the 
shoveling work.

Once the dirty work was complete, the attendees enjoyed the scenic view from the  hill top, 
then everyone proceeded back down to the pavilion, where cookies and punch awaited. 
Additionally, schematic drawings of the new observatory were on display, along with photos of 
the existing Wagman Observatory, and starparty handouts and a club AV slideshow.

Below are a few photos taken with my digital camera. Unfortunately, the images were a little 
No doubt, we can look forward to our professional photographer, David Smith, having much 
better images of the event. I also videotaped the ceremony and groundbreaking, 
and at a later date, a tape will be available for viewing.



(notes from Mike Meteney - AAAP construction site supervisor)

The Mingo Creek Park Observatory project construction is underway!!!

Today, the AAAP received final approval from Nottingham Township zoning supervisor of 
our building permit.
Immediately following the approval, the contractor (Waller Corporation),
arrived on site with their equipment and have begun preliminary groundwork.
They will probably be done with the leveling of the area by the end of the week.

The subcontractor doing the block work stopped by to check out the site.
He said it looked like a good area, nice dirt, etc.

Starparties scheduled for this weekend (Friday & Saturday) will still be held in the 
general area of observatory site, but not on top of the hill.
The scout camping field on the right-hand side of the observatory road will be the field 
location for the telescopes. The pavilion will continue to be the location of the astronomy 
displays, AV shows, and member presentations.

Remember, now that construction has finally started, the top of the hill should be avoided. 
We don't want any club members having an accident.

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi all,

This afternoon, I visited the construction site and took a few photos.
As you can see, the contractor (Waller Corporation) as reported last week,
has begun preliminary leveling groundwork.

Before construction can continue, we will need to re-survey/stake the building site lines 
to determine true-north. Hopefully, that will be completed sometime this week, so foundation 
work may begin.

Remember, now that construction has finally started, the top of the hill should be avoided. 
We don't want any club members having an accident.


Hi all,

It's been a busy week at the construction site.
Things are really starting to move.

The N-S site was set on May 24th, by Mike Meteney, Ed Moss, and Dan Reed.
They returned the next day and resurveyed the foundation markers.

The electric supply line from the pavilion up the hill to the observatory has been cleared of 
trees and trenched by the Waller Corp. We are now ready to put in our electric conduit.

The building foundation footers were dug on May 27th, and the concrete poured on the 28th. 
The wall block laying should begin on June 1st.

Work has begun by Flacc Stifel on the track fabrication for the roll-off roofs,
and the hand crank mechanisms. He has made several drawings of the dimensions at Wagman for 
reference, and has ordered the roof roller wheels.
Ed Moss is in the process of ordering the steel railing.


I visited the observatory construction site yesterday to shoot video and digital images, 
and to see the progress.
When you look at the observatory layout schematic's, you can kinda get a feel for how big 
the building will be. But walking inside of the space outlined by the footers for the 
planetarium/classroom, reception area, and both telescope rooms, really brings home the size 
of the structure!!
Using just a little imagination, you can envision how the observatory and grounds will look 
this fall when everything is completed.

Below are a few photos of the footer construction:


Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi All,

Work continued this week on the footers and walls.
The block for the walls was delivered on Wednesday. The contractor (Waller Corp)
was able to lay the block up to about the floor level. They plan on finishing
that work on Monday. Then they will back fill the foundation inside and out and
compact the soil. A backhoe will dig the telescope piers, probably on Wednesday.
Then on Wednesday while the backhoe is there, the contractor will finish digging
the trench for the electrical conduit. AAAP members on hand will put in the
conduit pipe, hand-shovel the first foot of fill, and lay the required warning
ground tape. Waller Corp will finish covering the trench with their equipment.
As we will need to lay about 600 feet of conduit, a little assistance from AAAP
members is requested. If any member is available on Wednesday to help, please
contact Mingo construction site coordinator Mike Meteney.  


Just a reminder, mark your calendars for the June starparties at Mingo.
(June 25th and 26th). Pavilion activities will kick off at about 8:00 PM.

Dave Smith and I visted the site this afternoon to survey the progress.
Here's a few images from the trip:

Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi All,

Work continued this week on the foundation footers and walls.

The block laying for the ground/footer walls was completed, and the open trenches around 
the footer walls were backfilled to ground level with topsoil.
Next the piers were excavated to bedrock and then poured.
They are both 30" by 30" poured concrete structures reinforced with rebar,
and both are approximately 8 - 10 feet deep.
In preparation for pouring the concrete floor, several inches of gravel has been spread over 
the topsoil of about three-forths of the interior structure floor.

Due to scheduling, the electrical conduit work has been postponed for at least a week. 
Notice will be given via the listserver when help is need.
Thanks goes out to those who previously volunteered.
We will probably reschedule this job the week following StarCruise.

I visited the site this afternoon to survey the progress.
Here's a few images from the trip:


Due to my being at StarCruise, I will not be able to get down to the construction site 
next weekend. If someone would like to visit the site and take a few digital images and 
send to me detailing the week's progress,
I would appreciate it.



Submitted by Larry McHenry

all Mingo images are available via hyperlinks from:


Hi All,

It's amazing how much work was done since the last time I was at the Mingo Observatory 
construction site.

The gravel has been spread thru the entire interior of the structure.
The walls for the refractor room are complete. About three quarters of the planetarium room 
walls are up, and about half of the reflector room walls are done. Walking around and thru 
the partly completed observatory really gives one the scale of the overall structure. 
It's big!

We are scheduled to dig and lay conduit on Tuesday the 29th.  
We will need several volunteers to be at the site by about 7:00 to 8:00 am.
(about 4 or 5 is enough).  Please Email Mike Meteney if you can make it.
Mike Meteney 

        News Notes:
Mike Meteney was pleased to announce at last nights starparty that the 
Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh has awarded the AAAP a 'Chairman's Grant' of $5000 for 
purchasing a Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) Self Guiding Spectrograph for use at the 
new Mingo Park Observatory as part of our future educational outreach and research programs.
Our 1st private starparty request!
Becky Nichols has received a request from the Mon Valley District's Spring 2005 Boy Scout 
Camporee.  They would like to have the AAAP work with them at the new facility in 
Mingo Creek Park on the weekend of April 29 through May 1st 2005 for their Astronomy and 
Weather Merit badges.
Dan McKeel, Beck Nichols, (and a little help from Dave Smith), 
have been revising the NEWO Publicity contact list provided by Wagman Director Tom Reiland 
for the southern Washington County region. Thanks to their efforts, we're beginning to have 
some success at publicizing our Mingo events
The Star Party coordinators for June are Al Paslow and Chrissie Chojnicki,
and they did an outstanding job this past weekend.
AAAP & MCPO member Dick Haddad reported that he is continuing to pursue additional 
donations from a number of sources. The next time you see Dick, make sure to shake his 
hand and thank him for his efforts on the AAAP's behalf.
Ed Moss and Mike Meteney continue to monitor the construction site.

Here's a few images from Saturday evening:
(some are a little darker than I would have preferred)

the last two have AAAP members Dave Smith and Les Johnson demonstrating the scale of the 
refractor room.


Submitted by Larry McHenry

all Mingo images are available via hyperlinks from:


Hi All,

Here's a quick update from George Guzik on today's work at the MCPO construction site.


Mike Meteney, Dave Smith, Brad Kuzman and I met at MCPO this morning to begin work installing 
the electrical service conduit.  The contractor used a backhoe to excavate the trench from the 
end wall of the planetarium room to a perpendicular trench that joined the 
trench running down the hill.
The contractor then worked down the length of the trench to bring it to the required depth.

Mike and I installed conduit from the building to a location about 1/4 of the way down the 
hill. A technician from Allegheny Power arrived to assist with marking the locations of 
the existing cables at the transformer near the pavilion.  
Dave and Brad excavated in that location to expose the cables. 
Later, they assisted with installing conduit near the building and helped with 
placing the cable pulling rope in the installed conduit.

When I left at noon, the contractor was busy extending the trench past the pavilion to the 
transformer where Dave and Brad had been working, earlier.

The walls of the planetarium room are nearly complete.  One of the workers spent a good 
part of the morning using a saw to prepare the top blocks of the refractor room to receive 
rebar and concrete to form the mounting surface for the roof track system.  
Another worker was installing steel door frames.  
He had 2 in place and was working on the large frame for the main entrance. 
The block crew disassembled and rebuilt the damaged wall at the end of the reflector room.

(Note: the in block in the SE corner of the reflector room was damaged last week by the 
contractor's backhoe)

Mike Meteney still needs several volunteers at the site by about 7:00 to 8:00 am tomorrow
 (Wednesday, June 30th). Bring shovels and rakes.
Please Email Mike Meteney tonight if you can make it.


Submitted by Larry McHenry



Here's a quick update to yesterday's progress report.

from Mike Meteney:

The conduit is in and the ditch is about 2/3 filled.  
Would have been done but the back hoe blew the core out of a front tire valve.  
Will finish filling ditch tomorrow.  No additional help is needed.  T
hanks to George Guzik, Dave Smith, Al Paslow, Shawn van Mastrig , and Chrissie Chojnicki for 
helping out!


Hi All,

Progress on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek continues forward.

This past week the contractor (Waller Corp), completed the exterior walls to all
wings of the building. (reflector, refractor, planetarium, and reception rooms).
The exterior steel door frames have all been installed. The top blocks in the
telescope rooms have been prepared for the roof track systems.
Preliminary work has begun on the roof with wood mounting plates attached to
most of the non-track walls (planetarium & reception rooms).
This coming week should see the sections of sidewall, roof trusses and plywood
installed. After the roof is finished, then the concrete floor will be poured,
and the interior block walls laid.

The electrical conduit between the park pavilion and the observatory building is complete. 
Thanks to backhoe work from the contractor, and 'back' work from AAAP members, the conduit 
was laid, 
line pull cables threaded thru, and the ditch backfilled according to code. 
All that is left to do is for Allegheny Power to pull the actual electrical cable, 
and make hookups at the pavilion transformer and at the observatory building.
Many thanks to the AAAP volunteers (previously listed) that helped out. 
More opportunities for volunteer work (such as helping install the roof track, painting, 
landscaping, and interior finishing), will occur over the next couple of months, 
so please consider donating a few hours of your time.
You'll be notified thru the AAAP listserver when help is needed.

My son Kyle, watching me work on the images for the 'unofficial Mingo website',
has become quite interested in the new observatory. 
He thought last week's images of the partly built observatory walls resembled 
some ancient greek temple ruin. This week, he went with me to see the site for himself.
Driving up the hillside to the observatory, Kyle mentioned that it looked like some
medieval castle on topof a hill. 
He mentioned it again after seeing the scaffling work on the inside that looked to him 
like castle wall battlements. 
(Kyle has a good imagination, he's considering an animation gaming career).
Since the building is really a astronomical observatory, he feels we should give it a 
nickname of 'the Star Castle'.


Here's a few images from today (Sunday July 4th, 2004):


Submitted by Larry McHenry

all Mingo images are available via hyperlinks from:

Please visit the 'Official' Mingo Creek Park Observatory project page at:
There, you find additional construction photos and updates.


Hi All,

Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.
The metal roof track installation work is almost complete in the reflector room,
and the refractor room tracks have been positioned and are ready for fastening.

Due to be a delay on getting the specialty made manufactured trusses,
no work has been done on the roof this past week.
The roof plywood and underlayment are on site ready to go, once the trusses arrive and are 

The block work crew is prepping the floor to pour concrete.
They are planning on pouring the floor early in the week.


Dave Smith and I visited the site today (Sunday July 18th, 2004).

Here's a few digital images that I took:


Submitted by Larry McHenry



Hi all,

I was at the Mingo Observatory site late Friday afternoon just after 4:00 pm on Friday At this time I had an opportunity to view progressthat has been made. The workmen were preparing to leave the job as I arrived. The most important development is concrete. The floor of the 10 inch refractor room was poured on Thursday. The concrete was just completed on the planetarium floor and very lastly the concrete of the 24 inch Ritchey-Chretien room, was completed just prior to my arrival. As many of you know the telescope piers have already been installed. So now we have some concrete floors!! The interior concrete from doorway from the outside of the building to the reception room and the warm-up room had not yet been poured and I was told that by Tuesday that should all be completed. The rail for the slide off roofs has been installed at both the 10 inch and 24 inch "rooms" and material for the actual roofing and shingles are now on site. The place is really starting to look good!!

Al Paslow



Hi All,

First off, a big thanks to Al Paslow and Dave Smith for handling the Mingo starparty and construction reports, and to Dan McKeel for coordinating the pavilion activities while I was out of town in the SouthWest - Four Corners region of the country. (when people tell you it's a 'different' kind of heat out West, they are right, It's a 'dry oven hot!' kinda of heat [;)] )


Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek. As reported last week by MCPO Committee member Al Paslow, all of the material for the actual roofing and shingles are now on site, including the specialty manufactured roof trusses. The building is expected to be roofed over during the next several weeks. Per Mike Meteney, all of the interior concrete floors and outdoor entrance pads are finished. The interior block walls are done, except for several rows on the planetarium wall and the reflector wall. Also, several small half-walls need finished. These should all be completed this week. Separate conduit for electrical and data lines were laid in the concrete floors of both telescope rooms, and the planetarium room. Ed Moss reports that the state is finalizing the processing of our $100,000 grant, and we should be receiving the funds soon. Also, we're still considering our options as to what/how to paint the exterior/interior of the new observatory building. Finally, it was decided at the last MCPO Committee meeting that the official observatory dedication would be delayed till the Spring of 2005. The amount of interior work to be done is substantial, and it was felt that we could not be ready for a dedication in September. We are considering having a 'open house' later in October of this year, to showcase what has been completed to date. Chrissie Chojnicki is researching options for telephone/internet services at the Mingo site. She is also reviewing security systems for the new building. Dick Haddad continues his fundraising activities of both private and state sources. He is currently working on procuring an amount necessary to construct a restroom facility located adjacent to the observatory.

(similar to what is located by the pavilion).


Dave Smith and I visited the site today (Sunday August 1st, 2004). Here's a few digital images that I took: Submitted by Larry McHenry



Mingo Creek Park Observatory Progress Report:

Work continues on the interior block walls. Most are complete, but a few rows still needs 
laid along the top of the wall leading into the refractor room, and a small sidewall 
between the reflector and refractor rooms.
Framing for the wood sidewalls has begun. Wall frames have been mounted along the roof of 
the reception area, and several more have been built and are ready for mounting.

We have our first success in controlling light pollution along the observatory site's 
south eastern horizon. 
Mike Meteney approached the local gas utility company about a bright light located across 
the valley at one of their facilities. Mike was able to convince the utility to 'unplug' 
the light, removing the brightest light source in that direction. 
It was a noted improvement at this past weekends starparties. Way to go Mike!


Hi all,

This past week, Waller Corp has begun constructing the observatory roof.
All the trusses, roof plywood, and half of the tar-paper are up covering the reception and 
reflector rooms. Work has begun on the truss side walls of the refractor room. 
The remaining truss/plywood work for the refractor room , and the planetarium room is expected
to be completed this coming week, 
with the roof shingles perhaps installed by the end of the week.

In MCPO Committee news:

AAAP President George Guzik has received the contract from the PA Department of Community and 
Economic Development for the $100k grant.
Committee member Al Paslow invited an acquaintance of his,
Attorney Mike Pater to our last MCPO Committee meeting, where Mr. Pater met with us and 
offered advice on specifics of the PA DCED contract.
The grant contract will be reviewed for approval at an upcoming AAAP Executive Committee 
meeting this week.

The MCPO Committee identified four critical task that we must get done this fall so that the 
Spring 2005 building dedication will not be impacted.
1) Construct the parking pad/parking area
2) Paint the structure (Exterior and Interior)
3) Finish grade and plant grass
4) Complete the electrical service installation to building.
Completing these four tasks will allow us time over the winter months to complete the 
additional interior work that will need done.

The scope of the painting task, and the need to spray the exterior block filler/paint 
using sophisticated equipment, may necessitate hiring professionals to paint at least the 
exterior.  The Committee will informally seek quotes to assess the cost.

The hillside above the building will be excavated by the contractor and the soil will be 
used to fill the area in front of the building.

Washington County will repair the road to the pavilion this fall, using PennDOT as the 
contractor.  Plans include making the road wide enough for 2 cars to pass, 
improving drainage along the road, and for surfacing the road with blacktop.

Finally, at a committee meeting a few weeks back, The Committee reviewed samples of 
roof shingles and chose Elk "Birchwood" shingles.
Also, the Committee reviewed paint samples and chose PPG "April Sky" for the exterior blocks,
PPG "Gray Frost" for the wood surfaces, and PPG "Chalky Blue" for the door trim.


I visited the site today (Sunday August 22nd, 2004).
Here's a few digital images that I took:

Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi again,

After taking the day off because it is my birthday, I
took advantage of the time and drove to the Mingo
Observatory site.

Being on the Mingo Obs committee, I decided to spend
some time with Randy, Carl & Todd, who are presently
working on the roof trusses to see how construction is

Much of the roofing is in place, over the warm up, and
entrance rooms, but both telescope rooms do not have
any roofing installed at this time.

The roll off roofs for the 10 inch refractor and the
24 inch Ritchey should be installed within the next 2
weeks, weather permitting. 

Each removable roof will be supported by 10 wheels
made from Magnesium, which is reported to withstand
approx. 4,000 lbs. per wheel! 

After the roofs are in place and work properly the
shingles will be attached, by L.W. Miller & Co.

The building looks absolutely fantastic, and is moving
along well. If all goes according to plan, Penn dot
should be working to pave our dirt road by Sept 15, or
so. However, there is much more work to be done,
electricity, excavating, painting, etc., but this is
where we are for now.

I have some images from today at:













Lastly, to those of you who have never been to Mingo
Creek Park; there are two beautiful covered bridges
located within the park. The Henry and Eibenizer are
very nice to see. The Henry bridge is located at the
bottom of our gated road.

I grabbed an image of the Henry Bridge too:


Club members are encouraged to visit us this Saturday,
Sept 4, for our next Mingo Star Party.

See you there,

Al Paslow 


Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.

All of the exterior doors (with locks) and most of the interior doors have been installed. 
The moveable section of the refractor room has been completed.
(trusses, plywood, tar-paper, and  wheels). Also, the front porch is done.
The contractor is holding off installing the roof shingles until the moveable section of the 
reflector room is built.
The T-111 exterior siding is on site, and weather permitting, will be installed next week.

Mike Meteney sends word that there was a big meeting on Thursday at the Washington County Gov 
office with the County, PennDot and the Parks people.
In light of the time schedule (remaining fall construction days), and the extent of the road 
work that needs to be done, It was decided to do a temporary fix on the park road to the 
pavilion this fall and then do the permanent asphalt rebuild in the Spring. This will work in 
our favor, as it gives us more time to finish our heavy construction work this year. 
While the road may not be patched in time for next week's starparties, the road should be in 
good shape to travel on for our last starparties in October.


Here's a few photos from Saturday:

here's several photos made from an airplane on Saturday morning by AAAP President George Guzik. 
The airplane was flown by a AAAP member Bruce Howard.



Submitted by Larry McHenry


Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.

The contractor has begun building the moveable roof section of the reflector room, 
and the T-111 exterior siding is on most of the buildings walls


Here's a few photos from Saturday:

Submitted by Larry McHenry



After the devastating rains yesterday, I decided to
check out conditions at the Mingo construction site.

I am happy to say that everything on site appears to
be in good shape. The building has no apparent water
damage, and the roads held up remarkably well.(I
however have not been inside). Mingo Park is open and
although some water is on the roads within the park
there are no problems with ingress or regress. There
is noticeable flooding to some homes before the park
and a few large trees by the Henry Bridge, along Mingo
Creek are down.The waters in the Creek are high.

More good news to all who have been to Mingo THE ROAD
HAS BEEN PATCHED! So bring the VW, or motor cycle
instead of the 4x4 next time & you'll be fine.

I shot these images before noon today:


Outside view of the wing of the 24" Ritchey Telescope

Another view of the same:

Outside with 24inch Ritchey Telescope Room,and
adjoining rooms with entrance door and planetarium on
far right:

Entrance room & Planetarium:

Outside view 10 inch Refractor Room, on left,
adjoining "Ante Room" center, and the 24inch Ritchey
Telescope Room, far right with trench dug in ground to
waterproof lower portion of building:

Planetarium room with trench:

Another outside view of 24" Telescope Room and
adjoining rooms:


Here's a view of the Henry Bridge (at the bottom of
our road) with a picnic table broken nearby it. (see
the 3rd tree from left.)The bench was originally
hundreds of feet away from it! - 

A rather large tree now in the Mingo Creek, downed
from its original location probably 200 ft away along
the bank area! The bridge is on the right of the

Hey, we were lucky, not to have our structure sustain
injury after knowing how much damage happened at the
bottom of our hill to the bridge area.

Lastly, the following images were taken, on Ginger
Hill Road, right off the turn from Rt# 88, just
outside the park. This particular home is well known
for yard decorations and was flooded with quite a bit
of water:


Hope your home, family and friends all are safe!

Al Paslow


Hi all,

Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.
The contractor has completed the moveable roof section of the reflector room. 
The T-111 exterior siding is on all of the exterior walls
except for the end of the moveable reflector section.

(need to construct the 'barn-door' opening for the telescope).
Site landscaping has begun, along with preparation of the parking area.
Also, waterproofing work was begun along the building's foundation.
Finally, interior work has begun on the member's warmup room, with the utility room having 
been framed up, and member's wall footer secured to the concrete floor.

Several AAAP members (Mike, Ed, ?) installed the electrical supply box and circuit breaker 
panel today.

As Al Paslow reported, Big news:  The park has temporarily patched their road!
Also, the observatory building came thru the remnants of Hurricane Ivan with no damage, 
other than a few water puddles inside.

Mike Meteney reports:
The roof is done, no shingles yet.  It looks really great.  Pendot did work on the road.  
Only a temp fix but looks great.  They ran a grader up the road and leveled it off and then 
put down some crushed recycled asphalt.  
Nice and smooth, but it is not a permanent fix.  
It will hold up well enough until they do the real work in the Spring.

Dave Smith and I visited the site today.
Here's a few photos:


Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Larry Sneider, Mike Meteney, and Ed Moss worked on the electric service panel and the members 
warm-up room on Saturday.  Dick Haddad joined us to pitch-in with some help.  
The electric service panel and the warm-up room are wired.  
Waller's men will finish the roof shingles and the warm-up room by Tuesday providing it 
doesn't rain. 
The French drains and the reflector roof end wall will be finished this week as well.  
All will be finished by week's end providing it doesn't rain all week.

Ed Moss  


Hi all,

Progress continues on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.

Work has begun on the 'barn door' at the end of the moveable reflector section.
Most of the waterproofing and french drains along the building's foundation is done. 
The roof shingles, aluminum soffets are on most of the building.
Interior work on the member's warmup room has progressed, with the members room having 
been framed up, the outer drywall hung, the storage 'attic' above the members room completed, 
and electrical wiring by AAAP members.

Mike Meteney reports:
(9/21) Talked with Allegheny Power. We need an inspectors seal on the panel. 
It will be a few weeks till they can get us hooked up since half their crew is in Florida.
(9/24) I went to the building today and they have about 3/4 of the roof shingled. 
Looks really good. They will finish the roof and downspouts on Monday.  
The drywall will also be done on the interior room on Monday or Tuesday. 
If the weather holds out it looks like everything will be done by the end of the week and 
we can paint.

Ed Moss reports:
(9/24) At our next starparty on October 9th, weather permitting, 
we will be setting up the 10" refractor on it's field tripod inside the refractor room, 
and putting the club's 17" Dob in the reflector room.
(Editor's note: if power is on, we will move the pavilion displays & activities to inside 
the planetarium room).
(9/25) Larry Sneider, Mike Meteney, and Ed Moss worked on the electric service panel and 
the members warm-up room on Saturday.  
Dick Haddad joined us to pitch-in with some help.  
The electric service panel and the warm-up room are wired.  
Waller's men will finish the roof shingles and the warm-up room by Tuesday providing 
it doesn't rain.
The French drains and the reflector roof end wall will be finished this week as well.  
All will be finished by week's end providing it doesn't rain all week.

Here's a few photos from today (9/26):


Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi all,

We're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for construction of the new AAAP 
observatory at Mingo Creek Park.

The 'barn doors' at the end of the moveable reflector section are complete.
The roof shingles and aluminum soffets are all done.
All of the waterproofing and french drains along the building's foundation is done, 
along with gutters and downspouts.
Interior work on the member's warmup room is mostly done, with all of the drywall hung 
and ready for seam taping and plastering.
Also a storage attic was built over top the warmup room.
Most of the grounds around the building has been leveled.
(topsoil still needs to be re-spread and grass seed planted).
The parking area has had some gravel spread on it.
The top of the telescope piers have been finished off.

This coming week should see the contractor (Waller Corp) completing all of their work and 
turning the building site over to the AAAP.


Mike Meteney reports:
(10/02) It looks like we just need the drywall finished, the gaskets installed, the finish 
grading done, and a few other minor things.  Maybe this week is it.
(10/03) I contacted the electrical inspector and have made arrangements for getting inspected 
on Monday.

Dave Smith reports:
(10/02) The place looks great!!!!

Dave Smith and I visited the site on Saturday (10/02).
Here's a few photos:

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Progress continued this week on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.

The topsoil has begun to be re-spread around the building.
The parking area has been extended and a new connection to the road created.

We are hoping that this week should see the contractor (Waller Corp) completing all of their 
final work.

As reported above, MCPO Committee members Mike Meteney, Ed Moss, Al Paslow, Larry Sneider, 
and Larry McHenry spent Saturday afternoon setting up the telescopes for Saturday night's 
starparty. Mike had to trim a little off the singles of the moveable refractor roof, 
as they were catching on the side walls of the stationary section of the refractor room, 
making it difficult to open.
Also, after the refractor field tripod was partly assembled, it was determined that their 
was not enough clearance for the moveable roof.
So Mike fired up his portable generator, and Larry Sneider got out a very nice portable 
band saw, and we proceeded with a little surgery to shorten the tripod legs so the roof 
could open. Later in the afternoon, Chrissie Chojnicki arrived with some repair parts for 
the 17.5" dob, and she and Mike assembled that scope.

Here's a few more construction photos from Saturday (10/09):

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi All,

Progress continued this week on the new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek.

Rubber gaskets were installed around the moveable roof sections.
The door jams have been filled in where strike plates normally would have been installed, 
and door threshold sweeps installed.
Next week should see the completion all of the construction work.
The topsoil spreading around the building needs to be completed.
Gravel applied to the parking area, and the door locks adjusted.

That's it for the building contractor.

This week the paint contractor (Knox Painting) begin onsite paint work.
First, they will be applying block filler paint to seal the concrete block.
Then they will paint the block with oil based paint. Finally, the T-111 siding and door trim 
will be painted. The building colors are:
PPG "April Sky" for the exterior blocks,
PPG "Gray Frost" for the wood surfaces,
PPG "Chalky Blue" for the door trim.

They were able to get several days in before the weather went downhill.
The block filler is done on both the inside and outside of the building except for a few small 
places. The painter will be working on the inside over the next week until the rain and 
cold weather clears.


Today, Dave Smith and I met Ed Moss and Mike Meteney at the building.
We had planned on working on the drywall seams of the warmup room, but decided that the air 
temperature was too close to the lower limit of the seam filler compound to risk it. 
Just have to wait for a warm spell to plaster the seams.
We did install several corner beads on the hallway corners.
We also installed a more secure metal bar to hold shut the reflector barndoors, 
and broom swept most of the building's rooms. (that will need done several more times, 
and the floors mopped to really clear out all the construction dust).
Finally, we did a walkthru inspection of the interior, noting a couple of minor flaws in 
the T-111 that the contractor will need to correct. Nothing major.
All in all, the observatory building looks great, and the MCPO Committee is quite pleased 
with the work of Waller Corp.

Here's a few photos from Saturday (10/16):

Submitted by Larry McHenry


The weather once again held back the remaining work at new AAAP observatory at Mingo Creek. 
Due to the wet and cool temp conditions, not much was accomplished this week. 
The topsoil spreading around the building still needs to be completed, along with gravel 
applied to the parking area.
Once the contractor has these last few items finished, we can have the power company make 
the electrical connection to the building.

The paint contractor was able to get the exterior T-111 siding and door trim painted early 
in the week.

With better weather forecast for this week, we're hoping that the grounds dry out enough 
to allow the general contractor to finish the landscape work, and for the painters to get 
further along.


Here's a few photos from Saturday (10/23):

Submitted by Larry McHenry 


Hi All,

Finally, the weather cut us some breaks the past few weeks, and the last bit of 
construction work at the observatory site has been done.
Waller Corporation has officially turned the building over to us.
The new AAAP Mingo Creek Park Observatory is finished!!!!!

The painting contractor (Knox) completed up all exterior and interior work,
including the door trim and touch-up work.
The contractor did a good job, and the building looks really nice!
Thanks goes to AAAP member Chrissie Chojnicki for working closely with the painters on 
choosing the right quality of paint for our project.

Our primary construction contractor (Waller Corp) was able to spread and grade the topsoil 
around the building. They also extended the gravel road to the new parking area, 
and both has been covered with stone/slag and a fine gravel.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

additional news:

Allegheny Power is scheduled to come out this week and install the observatory transformer, 
and make the connection to the main transformer by the pavilion.
At that point, thanks to the great work by AAAP electrician Larry Sneider, we'll have power 
inside the observatory.

Mike Meteney and Dave Smith have started applying drywall tape and mud to the seams running 
along the walls of the members room. 
Once we have the electric on, we'll be able to light and heat the building to complete 
the work.

Additionally, Mike and Dave cleared and leveled the area for the observatory transformer and 
had to re-dig out the area down at the pavilion.
(dirt and leaves had washed into the excavated pit during the fall.

Ed Moss and Mike worked on weatherizing the refractor room by attaching a rubber seal gasket 
treated lumber planks to the end of the refractor room.

Flacc Stifel and Wade Barbin are in the process of devising the hand crank and pulley systems 
for opening the telescope roofs. Once the electricity is on, they hope to move quickly on the 
installation, before it gets too cold.

Dave Smith has moved the planetarium dome gores to the building, and we will soon assemble 
and install the dome inside the planetarium classroom section.

Those AAAP members who live near South Park, have been watching the steady pace of 
construction of the new South Park High School.
The new old school building is slated to close at the end of the year, 
with the students and faculty transferring to the newly furnished building in January.
AAAP and MCPO member Mike Meteney teaches Science at South Park High.
Mike has been successful in petitioning the South Park School District in donating a 
good number of the old school's furnishing to the AAAP.
We will be able to fully furnish the new observatory with everything we need.
(a lot of it will even match!)
Below is a partial list of what Mike was given the OK for us to receive.

Teacher Desks
Teacher Chairs
Chairs with casters
Couch and love seat from the faculty room
Book Shelves from the old library
Reference tables
File cabinets
Bulletin Boards
Computer carts
Library tables
AV carts
Display cases
Magazine rack
Movie screens
Overhead projectors
Slide projector
Garbage Cans

Way to go Mike, and many thanks to the South Park School District!


Here's a few photos from today (11/14):
With the observatory complete, this will conclude my 'officially' reporting of the 
construction status. 
I, along with the other MCPO Committee members will from time to time post images of 
all the work that still needs done to make the observatory 'operational' for spring 2005.
Over the winter, I will be assembling a photo cd from various MCPO Committee members. 
Also, I will be creating a DVD from video recordings of the MCPO groundbreaking and 
construction throughout the summer. Copies will be available upon completion to interested 
club members, and for the AAAP archive. Additionally, I hope to bring up-to-date the online 
webpage of all the construction reports for future reference.
Finally, I plan on starting work on a number of presentations that will incorporate the 
old planetarium projector and computer powerpoint slides.
I have several new astronomy exhibits in mind, and I am really looking forward to working 
in the planetarium / classroom wing of the MCPO.

Submitted by Larry McHenry


Hi all,

Good news,
Mike Meteney reports that the electricity was connected at the Mingo Creek Park Observatory 
today. We now have power inside the building. (at the breaker box).

Per Ed Moss:
This Saturday we need some people to help fill in the trench at the transformer near the 
pavilion.  Also to help Larry Sneider run some more electric conduit and cable inside 
the observatory.

Dave Smith also is asking for some people to help sweep up inside the building.
The observatory grounds also needs to have some small tree branches, roots, 
rocks and other assorted small building clutter picked-up, and the ground raked.

If anyone would like to lend a hand, please meet meet at the observatory building and 
bring your work gloves, brooms, rakes, and shovels.
(a wheelbarrow or two would nice). Also, if anyone could bring a shop vac and extension cords,
 that would make cleaning the inside floor much easier.
A few mops and buckets would also be useful.
(we can get water at the pavilion).

Tentatively plan on arriving at about noon Saturday, but be sure to check this list for any 
changes in the exact time.




Just want to thank the 9 members who helped out today at Mingo with the inside & outside work. 
(the 10th helper is a friend of Dave Smith).
I didn't write down the volunteer names, and I apologize for not being able to remember the 
two AAAP members, who along with Jeff Marsh and Dave's friend, filled in the trench at the 
transformer near the pavilion.
(Dave and I managed to get a few shovels of dirt in, but we arrived late,
and the lion's share of the work was done by the above four). Thanks guys!
Inside the observatory, Larry Sneider spent many hours wiring work lights throughout the 
building. It was really great having power and lights inside. Good job Larry!

Also inside were Ed Moss and Mike Meteney, spending time working on various small 'hardware' 
and weatherproofing projects. Gene Kulakowski was there using a huge shop vac to clean the 
observatory floors. Also once the trench fillers were done with the outside work, they all 
pitched-in with the interior cleaning.
Dave Smith jumped in where needed, and spent a good deal of time sanding the members room 
drywall joints.
 I helped with the cleaning, and climbed up into the attic and rearranged it.
With help from Dave and Gene, we moved a number of items in the members room up to the attic 
storage. Additionally, I began assembling the planetarium dome,
and was joined by Ed, Dave, and Gene. We completed putting the dome together and attached 
the mounting brackets. After we repaint the interior of the dome, 
it will be ready for mounting in the planetarium/classroom.

It was too muddy to pickup the tree branches and other clutter out behind the building, 
so we'll save that for another time to be posted via the listserver.

Here's a few photos:

New observatory building transformer:

One of the Work lights inside the planetarium room:
Planetarium dome:

Thanks again to all for the great response for help.

Larry McHenry 


Hi all,

This Saturday, we could use a couple of members to help in installing the
planetarium dome. Ed Moss has gotten the dome painted (inside & out), and has
the hardware needed for installation.
Several MCPO Committee members will be there, but it would be good to have
a few extra hands available to help steady the dome as we raise it.

Also, there's several drywall seams on the members room that could be
plastered or sanded. (may not be warm enough for the outer hall walls, but we
can use electric heaters for the interior).
If anyone has some spare drywall joint compound, tape, drywall blades, and
sandpaper, and would like to bring it, please do.

If the ground is dry enough, the observatory grounds also need to have some
small tree branches, roots, rocks and other assorted small building clutter
picked-up, and the ground raked.
Bring a change of shoes, so as not to track mud into the building.

If anyone would like to lend a hand,
(or just want to stop by and see the place),
please meet at the observatory building and bring your work gloves, brooms,
rakes, and shovels. (a wheelbarrow is already there).
No water is available, so bring your own. (also, no portajohn).

Plan on arriving at about 11:00am Saturday.

Larry McHenry,  MCPO Committee member


Hi to all,

Work progresses on the Mingo Observatory - as this
Saturday a number of members met to assemble the dome
of the planetarium, and suspend it from the ceiling
and to sand and apply joint compound  to the walls of
the members room.

The Planetarium Dome is 10 ft diameter sectional unit,
rather light in weight being made of fiberglass, that
simply bolts together at the seams. The dome will be
directly above the planetarium projector, and  it is
to our advantage for the dome to raise and lower,
rather than attempt adjust the height of the
projector. This will facilitate the public in seating
as it can be raised for easy access and then lowered
for the shows.   

Ed Moss and Larry McHenry conceived a plan, using the
Planetarium rooms interior ceiling frame-work. A
simple system using 4 pulleys and turnbuckles, some
plastic coated cable and other hardware, suspended
from the ceiling did the trick. Four Aluminum Plates
positioned equidistantly bolted to the dome aides the
suspension technique.

Dave Smith was our man, climbing the ladder to a
height of about 20 feet in each corner of the room to
install the system. When the work was finished the
dome can be adjusted independently at each of the four
hoisting points so we can experiment and determine
optimum positions for the projector. 
Here are images:

Gene Kulalowski , (l ) and Ed Moss (r ) bolting
portions of the dome together.

Gene and Ed again:

Larry McHenry (l ) attaches one of 4 aluminum mounting
plate  that suspends the dome:

Club electrician Larry ( l ) and Ed discuss cable and
pulley issues: 

Larry McHenry checks bolt tightness of dome bolts,
also a close-up of aluminum suspension mount:

Dave Smith ( l ) and  Gene Kulalowski  attach pulley:

Hurray !!!  We have successful lift-off!

Clean-up time:

Dave Smith ( l ) gives us first look by illumining the
inside of the doom.
?Hey, Dave is that our first planetarium show??

Dave Smith working on dry wall:



Lastly, as we completed our efforts late that
afternoon some of us saw a great sunset 
Just off the roof of the 24 inch Ritchey - Cretien
Telescope Room.

Sunset and trail formation at Mingo:




Many thanks to all who helped out. Special thanks to
Gary for additional drywall work!

Al Paslow
Mingo Creek Park Observatory Committee Member.   


Hi all,

Today, Dave Smith, Ed Moss, Mike Meteney, and myself moved the club's planetarium projector 
from Dave's place in the South Side Brew House to the observatory. 
Dave and I rented a U-Haul truck and drove to the South Side.
Ed met us there and helped load the projector into the moving van.
Once the projector was secured, Dave and I headed for the observatory.
There, Mike was waiting to help unload.
After we had positioned the projector under the dome and removed the shipping
padding, we plugged it in, and tested it out with the dome.
All of the basic functions of the projector worked, and the star display looked good under 
the dome. We even tried several of the accessories, which included a meteor projector, 
an eclipse simulator, and a planetary orrey.
(the orrey needs a little adjusting, as the planet Mercury was now exhibiting a 
cometary orbit).
The next step will be to more accurately align and level the dome, then identify and replace 
some of the projector bulbs that are not working.
Overall, not a bad investment the club made in 2001 in purchasing the
planetarium & dome for a small sum of $250.

Here's a few photos from today (12/22):

Submitted by Larry McHenry


"Larry! How many people will the planetarium be able to accomodate at one time?

Hi Frank,

Depending on how we configure the chairs, about 15 - 20 people.
The planetarium came with about 15 automated canned programs, but most of them are dated, 
being from the late 60's, and involve a 8-track sound system.
Our plans are to sort thru them and figure out which ones can be updated.
In the mean time, I am writing several short (under 10min) powerpoint shows that can be 
used in conjunction with the basic functions of the planetarium for showing at this spring's 
(if those members who have done presentations at past club events, such as StarCruise, 
would like to donate their presentations for use at Mingo,
we would be very grateful).

In addition to the planetarium projector, we will also have a number of astronomical displays 
along the walls of the room. These will include poster-board type displays and books, 
along with interactive computer and AV exhibits. We also want to come up with some hands-on 
activities such as a small stationary telescope that can demonstrate the effects of 
light-pollution or seeing. We are open to suggestions that anyone might have.

If anyone would be interested in developing presentations or exhibits for the 
Mingo Planetarium/classroom, or would like to learn how to use the projector and become one 
of it's 'operators', or would like to help going thru the old canned programs, 
we will be putting together an educational committee about mid-january, 
after we have selected the observatory directors.

Let the MCPO Committee know if you are interested.


You may E-mail me at:lsmch@comcast.net

This is it. Hope you enjoyed the visit. Come again soon!