Bringing Astronomy to Wounded Veterans in Pittsburgh
These photos illustrate the type of observatory and telescope the AAAP is hoping to build for their local veterans. Images courtesy Jim Surman, AAAP

The Amateur Astronomical Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP) bring the stars to their local veterans with astronomy events at their local VA hospital. The members of the AAAP have even begun an effort to construct a dedicated observatory and astronomy program on the hospital grounds in an effort to provide additional astronomy activities at the hospital to help to aid in the recovery of the veterans receiving treatment.

Jim Surman, a  member  of the AAAP who is leading this effort, has this to say in regards to the details:

"Many of our hospitalized veteran’s ( heroes all), in addition to experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well as other debilitating conditions, many have lost limbs and have other physical problems. This increases the incidents of depression, physical injuries, substance abuse and sleep problems. We want to enrich their lives with healing activities that provide a therapeutic experience. 
As a member of the AAAP, I realized that astronomy is a perfect fit to provide this healing for our veterans, by belonging to something great and with people that totally enjoy helping each other. I have found  our AAAP members have the willingness to just help others to be involved in astronomy and ask nothing in return. As a Chairman of the Stephen P Barry Assembly of the Knights of Columbus Veterans Programs, my goal is to have the Knights work with the AAAP to make this something both organizations can be proud to be able to enrich the lives of those that have given so much for us all.
We have an outline The project is going to take time to become a reality. We have the Veterans and VA Administration excited to make this happen....The national VA have stated that no other VA in the country has an observatory and we could be the first and a model for others. Other VA hospitals have already voiced that they may want to do this same type of project. "

Jim's goal is to build a dedicated observatory at the hospital, complete with a moving roof and even a digital camera system attached to the telescope, in order to allow immobilized veterans the chance to observe from within the hospital. The system would also be networked with , observatories around the country , contain a reference library, and allow the veterans to learn astronomy and image processing on saved images on rainy days when the weather doesn't allow for observing. They would also regularly bus veterans from the hospital to Mingo Creek Park Observatory. With these resources and activities they hope to help these veterans create their own strong astronomy club, bringing them together as a team as they enhance their own astronomy knowledge and skills and bring this to other veterans and hospitals around the country. 

We wish them the very best  in their efforts to make this observatory and astronomy program a reality! For more information you can contact Jim at : RPIConsulting -at-

Last Updated: May 26, 2017

Find Astronomy Outreach Tips on Social Media
logo for Facebooklogo for TwitterLogo for YouTubeLogo for Instagram
We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network astronomy outreach community on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on astronomy events, outreach opportunities, and astronomy activities. Pictures of your astronomy outreach and other behind the scenes photos are featured on our Instagram feed.

Subscribe to the Night Sky Network channel on YouTube  and watch demonstrations of astronomy outreach activities and recordings of our monthly webinars with astronomy professionals and NASA scientists.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Logo for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The ASP is a 501c3 non-profit organization that advances science literacy through astronomy.