Byron Nash and Plan B Play Jam on Walnut; Laurel Hill Bluegrass Fest; Riverhounds vs. Indpendence; Star Parties (Sat., 8/18/18)

1) For five Saturdays every summer and fall, Walnut Street in Shadyside shifts its focus from the usual bustling bevy of bistros and boutiques to putting a bit of music in the air, courtesy of the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce. The annual Jam on Walnut series brings some big names out for free concerts that stop traffic and pack the street. Tonight’s edition features Byron Nash and  Plan B with Lucky Me band opening. All of the Jams On Walnut are free to attend and proceeds from food and drink sales benefit Humane Animal Rescue. 7 p.m. 5442 Walnut St., Shadyside.

2) Beautiful music performed in a sylvan setting is exactly what will be happening at the Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival today and tomorrow. Bands, artisans, food vendors, period reenactors, children’s activities, and wagon rides are some of the activities offered. The festival is free and sponsored by the Friends of Laurel Hill and many other local businesses. Participating groups include: Tussey Mountain Moonshiners,  Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, Well Strung, Allegheny Drifters, Colebrook Road, and Robert Mabe Band. Festival Hours: Saturday, noon – 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the Mountain Laurel 5K Run/Walk kicking off at 8:30 a.m. and a church service at 10 a.m. Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset.

A Riverhounds forward takes a shot on goal as a defender closes fast. Photo: Chris Cowger.

A Riverhounds forward takes a shot on goal as a defender closes fast. Photo: Chris Cowger.

3) One of Pittsburgh’s hottest sports teams takes the field tonight—The Riverhounds. The squad, who are currently in second place in the USL Group A standings, take on the Charlotte Independence  at 7 p.m. at Highmark stadium. See some good soccer action up close and in person. 510 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square.

NIGHTTIME SKY-WATCHING—Various times and places around the region.   

Saturn, god of abundance and sixth planet from the Sun. This image is from NASA's Cassini spacecraft but the planet and its rings are visible through a telescope from Pittsburgh.

Saturn, god of abundance and eerie celebrity planet. This image is from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft but the planet and its rings are visible through a telescope from Pittsburgh.

4) Since time immemorial, humans have marveled at the nighttime sky. Today, when city and suburban lights wash out much of the view, we seldom get to feel the sheer wonder that Van Gogh expressed when he painted “The Starry Night.” But there are ways to reconnect with this elemental joy—right here in the Pittsburgh area.   

One way is attending the Star Parties hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP). Star Parties are held in regional parks which have very little “light pollution” at night. They’re free, though donations are welcome; just show up around dusk. AAAP will have high-powered telescopes for magnificent, magnified looks at celestial bodies. You can also bring your own telescope or binoculars …  or, just enjoy being out in the open air, under the Greatest Show Beyond Earth. Summer locations and dates: at Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Regional Park on Aug. 18; and Sept. 15 and 29 (225 Kurn Rd., Tarentum); and at Mingo Creek Park Observatory on Aug. 18, and Sept. 7 and 9 (1 Shelter 10 Rd., Finleyville).

Also, the historic Allegheny Observatory offers guided public tours from 8-10 p.m. on Thursday nights through August, and Friday nights through October. Weather permitting, each tour ends with a chance to look through the Observatory’s telescope. And the place is worth learning about for other reasons, such as its place in the history of climate science. Observations made here were used by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius to document and calculate the greenhouse effect—in 1896, over 120 years ago. 159 Riverview Ave., Brighton Heights. (MV)