Located in Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park, the Allegheny Observatory is a major astronomical research institution that houses the third-largest refracting telescope in the world. Here, scientists confirmed that Saturn’s rings aren’t solid but are composed of numerous small particles—one of many important discoveries by Pitt astronomers.
Pitt students enjoy access to the observatory’s telescopes and other equipment, and observatory astronomers teach courses at the University. Popular public tours of the observatory are offered from April through late October.
In 2009, the observatory installed a highly sensitive seismograph that can detect as little as a half-nanometer-per-second displacement of the Earth's crust caused by earthquakes, explosions, and other seismic events anywhere in the world. Its readings are fed into the public databases of a national consortium of universities pooling and analyzing seismic data.