2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

Upcoming Event:

DEC. 4 – PUBLIC VIEWING, VIA WEB-CAST, OF 1st NASA TEST LAUNCH
OF NEW ORION DEEP-SPACE VEHICLE AT MT. LEBANON PUBLIC LIBRARY

in South Suburban Pittsburgh

The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

Inspiration for
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

Photo of Adler Planetarium
in 1933

Photograph of the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in 1933,
three years after it opened as the first planetarium in the United States.

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Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum

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Philip Fox
First Adler Planetarium Director

1933 Book:
Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum, An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum

Adler Planetarium Inspiration for
Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium

History of Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
Pittsburgh


Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
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New Book: Theaters of Time and Space
American Planetaria, 1930-1970

By Jordan D. Marché II

Discusses the beginning of planetarium theaters in America, with some emphasis on the first five major American planetaria built in the 1930s, including Chicago's Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum and Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Adler Planetarium History

The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum was the first major planetarium constructed in the Western Hemisphere, by Max Adler in 1930. With more than 2,000 astronomical and other scientific artifacts, it is also the Western Hemisphere's largest museum of astronomical history.

The Western Hemisphere's first Zeiss planetarium projector, a Zeiss Model II, started providing star dramas to the public at Adler Planetarium in 1930. In 1959-1961, Adler Planetarium had this projector converted and upgraded from a Zeiss II to a Zeiss Model III. In 1969, Adler Planetarium's historic Zeiss II/III was sold, and Adler Planetarium acquired a Zeiss Model VI.

The Mystery of Adler Planetarium's Zeiss II/III Projector

Photo of Zeiss II
 Planetarium Projector at the Adler Planetarium
 in 1933

1933 photograph of the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector used from 1930 to 1969 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. This projector was replaced by a Zeiss VI in January of 1970.
In 1969, Adler Planetarium sold the historic Zeiss II/III to the City of Jackson, Mississippi. So, it appeared that this historic projector would get a new life educating the citizens of Mississippi, as the citizens of nearby Baton Rouge, Louisiana were being educated with a historic Zeiss II/III projector originally from the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium in Los Angeles. But, this was not to be.

In a 2002 May 16 telephone conversation, a retired Adler Planetarium technician (Hans Behrens, who had been involved in the disassembling of the Zeiss II Projector, for upgrading to a Zeiss III in 1961) related a story to the author, regarding events followng the transfer of the Zeiss II/III out of Chicago. According to this technician, the recipient in Mississippi refused to pay the truck driver for the Zeiss projector. Consequently, the truck driver refused to release the Zeiss projector to the recipient.

The truck driver, later, sold the Zeiss projector to a man in Ohio. There is a report that this man's father owned a machine-shop; apparently, the new owner believed work in the machine-shop could restore the projector.

The Adler Planetarium technician also mentioned that, once, he talked to the new owner of the Zeiss II/III on the telephone. The new owner was seeking further information about the projector. However, this new owner did not mention his name or contact information.

Also, there is a report that Adler Planetarium management once did contact the new owner of the Zeiss II/III (new owner's telephone number supplied by a professor at Arizona State University), in an attempt to bring the projector back to Chicago. However, nothing came of this attempt.

Another version of events surfaced recently, thanks to the investigations of planetarium collector and restorer (and Director of Acquistions and Restorations of the private Planetarium Projector & Space Museum in Big Bear Lake, California) Brent Sullivan. In a 2008 January 28 electronic mail correspondence Mr. Sullivan had with Gary Lazich, Manager of the Russell C. Davis Planetarium in Jackson, Mississippi, the following facts were stated:

"In 1965, a dinner meeting was held and [a group of] ladies [in the community] and business leaders agreed to work together toward a Mississippi Art Museum to be located somewhere in Downtown Jackson...As time was passing, a new element appeared when the Jackson Public Schools acquired a planetarium optical instrument. The inclusion of a planetarium with all its educational potential and appeal to students and adults was promptly approved. In 1972, the citizens of Jackson in a referendum approved $1.5 million for the project."
("Arts Center, Planetarium Was 15 Years in the Making," Bill Coppenbarger, *Jackson Daily News*, date unknown but probably 1978)

"It is interesting to note that the Jackson Separate School District just happened to have in storage a planetarium projector which was purchased some years ago from the famed Adler Planetarium in Chicago."
("Arts Center Complex and How It Happened," *Enterprise-Journal*, McComb, Mississippi, 4/25/1978)

"William T. Clark [owner of Observa-Dome Laboratories]...originally got Jackson interested in a planetarium back in the early 1960s...Clark had gotten the Jackson city schools interested in buying the old Zeiss planetarium project[or] from Chicago in the 1960s, when Chicago was replacing it with a later, more sophisticated Zeiss model. Jackson had bought the old Zeiss unit for $36,000, a fraction of its price, and was able to use federal funds to pay for half the amount. But when the City got ready to build its planetarium three or four years ago, the Zeiss would have had to be rebuilt and modernized, which would have cost $230,000 to do so. Instead, the city asked for bids on new projectors, and the [Viewlex-]Minolta [Series IV] came in some $100,000 or more below the price bid by Zeiss. [Planetarium Manager Dick] Knapp said he felt the city did the right thing in using the old Zeiss for a trade-in on the new projector, since it got $30,000 for the old unit. 'I feel if we had used the original projector, even with modifications we would still have an outdated projector,' he declared."
("Planetarium Projector: Will It Work?", Bill Minor, *The Capital Reporter*, Jackson, Mississippi, Vol. XXIII, No. 14, April 13, 1978)

As compensation for their efforts in the project, Jackson Public Schools received free admission to the Planetarium from its opening in 1978 until 1990.

Mr. Lazich also mentioned that some of this information came from former Russell C. Davis Planetarium Manager Dick Knapp, who retired in 2001 to become a Lutheran pastor, at St. James Lutheran Church in Gonzales, Louisiana.

Further research by Mr. Sullivan has resulted in additional information:

1) In a U.S. mail response on 2008 February 25, former Russell C. Davis Planetarium Manager Dick Knapp recommended contacting Mr. O. Richard Norton (who may now live in Tucson), who at that time was consulting on the Jackson, Mississippi museum project.

2) In an electronic mail response on 2008 February 25, Arizona State University Planetarium Coordinator Daniel Matlaga (who had worked at Adler Planetarium) stated that Arizona State University was considering purchasing the Zeiss II/III (he saw it in shipping crates). However, it was purchased by a gentelman from Baton Rouge, who purchased the projector from the trucker as money to ship the projector to Minolta ran out. The Zeiss II/III was being sent to Minolta, once the new Viewlex-Minolta Series IV Planetarium Projector was chosen for use in Jackson, Mississippi. Mr. Matlaga also said that he saw the Zeiss II/III in Baton Rouge, and from there it went to someone in either Tennessee or Oklahoma. The purchaser of the projector owned an electronics manufacturing plant, grew up in Chicago, and he thought he could renovate the projector in his workshop (he was familiar with mechanical drawings and machining parts, as he grew-up assisting in his father's machine shop).

In a 2008 April 3 electronic mail message to the author, Wayne Coskrey, a Planetarium Curator (one of two Curators) at the Louisiana Arts and Science Center Planetarium in Baton Rouge from 1981 to 1986 (now back in his hometown of Starkville, Mississippi), gave more details. He said during that time he, and Planetarium Curator Sam S. Mims, III, heard that that the Adler Planetarium's original Zeiss II/III projector was for sale. The Davis Planetarium in Jackson, Mississippi gave-up the Zeiss in trade for their brand new Viewlex-Minolta projector. It required a special (expensive) tractor-trailer rig with a hydraulic hoist to safely transport the Zeiss projector disassembled in all its wooden boxes, and the trucking company that was contracted to do the hauling was left hanging when Viewlex-Minolta went bankrupt while the projector was en route from Jackson to Viewlex-Minolta.

Mr. Coskrey states, "For quite a long time, the trucking company looked for a buyer to take the projector off their hands. In the end, all they wanted (I believe) was little more than the money they were owed for the transportation. Sam Mims, several other people, and I bought the projector and had it delivered to Sam's dad's small chemical company warehouse in Baton Rouge.

"Sam did the vast majority of the legwork in trying to find a buyer for the projector, and it was a number of years before he found someone with a real interest in making us an offer. If I remember correctly, this was a gentlemen in Pennsylvania who owned a company which did, among other things, sonar equipment construction and testing for the U.S. Navy. Because of this, he had a large domed room in his manufacturing plant, which was ideal to start up a private planetarium. After a lot of wrangling, we finally sold the projector to him and had another one of the special tractor-trailer rigs transport it to him."

Mr. Coskrey also said, "one of the reasons it was so hard to sell was that several of the star plates were missing, so that the projector could no longer project the entire sky. The projector was this way when we got it, and I'm not sure when the plates actually had gone missing. We tried to get replacement plates from Zeiss, but they had no interest in supporting such an old projector."

Mr. Coskrey also related the following fascinating anecdote: "In one of those funny circular coincidences that can happen in life, I am actually the instigator of the idea for a major planetarium being constructed in Jackson. When I was a teenager, I wrote in to the "Ask Jack Sunn" column in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, asking if there were any planetariums in Mississippi. "Jack Sunn" replied that he had found out that the Jackson Municipal School District actually owned a used Zeiss star projector that was stacked up in a warehouse somewhere. Some influential people read this and started workng out the details of what would ultimately become the Russell C. Davis Planetarium. I would never have dreamed that I would end up being one of the co-owners of that very same Zeiss projector fifteen years or so later! (If I remember correctly, the huge stack of boxes of disassembled projector was something like 16'x16'x8'.)."

The author would be interested in receiving additional information, regarding the current status and location of Adler Planetarium's Zeiss II/III projector, which was the first major planetarium projector in the Western Hemisphere.

Detailed information regarding America's first Zeiss II Planetarium Projector operated at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago from 1930 to 1969, from the 1933 book, Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum, An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum by Philip Fox, Adler's first Planetarium Director:
Pages 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26.


Inspiration for Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh

One of the people to visit this new institution, in its first year of operation, was Leo J. Scanlon of the Summer Hill neighborhood on Pittsburgh's North Side. The previous year (on June 9, 1929), Mr. Scanlon and Chester B. Roe co-founded the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh. Later in 1930, Mr. Scanlon would construct the world's first astronomical observatory with an all-aluminum dome, in the back yard of his property. The Valley View Observatory was razed in August of 1997. However, the historic observatory dome was kept and will be placed atop a new Valley View Observatory, to be constructed near the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Regional County Park (northeast of Pittsburgh), operated by the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh.

Leo Scanlon was so impressed with the Adler Planetarium, and with this new method of explaining Astronomy to the public, that he, and the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh, started lobbying Pittsburgh foundations, and the Pittsburgh City Government, to obtain funding for construction of a planetarium in Pittsburgh.

Their efforts were successful when, in 1937, the Buhl Foundation agreed to construct a planetarium and science institute for Pittsburgh. The City of Pittsburgh agreed to provide a prominent site on the City's North Side for the institution. The Buhl Foundation paid the entire cost of the $1,070,000 building -- then conveyed The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, and all of its contents, to the City of Pittsburgh at the building's dedication on 1939 October 24.

Leo Scanlon became one of the first two Planetarium Lecturers in Buhl's "Theater of the Stars." The other Planetarium Lecturer was Nicholas E. Wagman, Ph.D., then Director of the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory (located only three miles north of the Planetarium). Mr. Scanlon passed-away on 1999 November 27, at the age of 96 years.



Additional Adler Planetarium History

* Adler Planetarium Official Web Site

* Adler Planetarium's Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy

* Adler Planetarium's Zeiss Projector Collection, 1929-1986 Finding Aid

* 1933 Book:
Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum,
An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum
By Philip Fox

* First Director of Adler Planetarium: Philip Fox

* The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh - Inspired by Adler Planetarium

* First Buhl Planetarium Lecturer (who visited Adler Planetarium in 1930): Leo Scanlon

* Other Planetarium History Links


Adler Planetarium News

Gillers, Heather. "Adler Planetarium lays off 8 percent of staff."
Chicago Tribune 2013 May 31.

Johnson, Steve. "Countdown to 'wow'."
Chicago Tribune 2011 June 21.
Revamped Sky Theater boasts the world's highest-resolution projection system — and a new show designers are racing to finish.

Barrett, Joe. "Planetarium Stars Again After Revamp."
The Wall Street Journal 2011 June 20.
Chicago's 81-Year-Old Facility Gets $14 Million Makeover.

Bush, Lawrence. "May 10: The First Planetarium." Blog Posting.
Jewish Currents 2011 May 10.

Haberman, Clyde. "Tickling Worms Leads to Discoveries, and a Measure of Fame."
The New York Times 2008 Nov. 27.
2008 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Martin Chalfie, comments on value of science and planetaria:
Like many scientists, he is dismayed by how the Bush administration has pushed science to a back burner so distant that it is barely on the stove. Budgets for research have shrunk. “Ideology,” he said, “plays a role instead of scientific information.” Though he feels that Senator John McCain is better than President Bush in this regard, he also finds Mr. McCain overly eager to bash science.
Take the campaign attacks on Mr. Obama’s attempt to get $3 million in federal funds for “an overhead projector,” as Mr. McCain called it, for a Chicago planetarium. You’d have thought from his stump speech that this was a projector for showing home movies.
“To me this was a prime example of belittling science and particularly science education,” Dr. Chalfie said. A planetarium projector is complex and, naturally, expensive. “It’s to learn about astronomy,” he said. “It was a tool for the support of science education, and a very important one.”

"Official Statement on the Role of Planetariums in Education."
International Planetarium Society 2008 October.

Zentner, Andrew R. "About that 'projector'." Letter-to-the-Editor.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2008 Oct. 15.
(Fourth letter of six on web page)

Mullen, William and James Janega. "Adler device not just 'overhead projector'."
Chicago Tribune 2008 Oct. 9.

Herrmann, Andrew. "Adler president to McCain: Sky machine not an overhead projector."
Chicago Sun-Times 2008 Oct. 9.

"Planetarium president defends Obama ``earmark''"
Chicago Tribune On-Line/AP 2008 Oct. 9.

"Don't mess with scientists."
Yahoo 2008 Oct. 9.

Sweitzer, Jim. "John McCain Calling Planetaria 'Foolishness' During Debates Is Foolish."
Discovery Channel On-Line 2008 Oct. 8.

Adler Planetarium. "STATEMENT ABOUT SENATOR JOHN McCAIN’S COMMENTS AT THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE."
Public Statement. Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago 2008 Oct. 8.

"Chicago's Adler Planetarium projector stirs campaign controversy."
Chicago Tribune On-Line 2008 Oct. 8.

Janega, James. "Planetarium on defense after McCain criticism."
Chicago Tribune On-Line 2008 Oct. 8.

"Adler's gear no ordinary projector."
Chicago Tribune On-Line/AP 2008 Oct. 8.

Sneed, Michael. "McCain at his best talking national security
MARS VS. VENUS | McCain at his best talking national security.

Chicago Sun-Times 2008 Oct. 8.

"Facts, half-truths and some downright falsehoods."
Baltimore Sun/AP 2008 Oct. 8.

McCormick, John and Jill Zuckman. "Fire and Ice
In second debate, chill between candidates warmed only by
McCain's and Obama's heated attacks on each other."

The Morning Call, Allentown PA 2008 Oct. 8.

McCormick, John and Jill Zuckman. "McCain, Obama clash."
Chicago Tribune On-Line 2008 Oct. 7.

"NASA And The Adler Planetarium Host NASA Future Forum In Chicago."
NASA 2008 Oct. 6.

Farrington, Brendan. "McCain says Obama didn't call Palin a pig."
Yahoo/AP 2008 Sept. 15.
Includes the statement by Senator McCain, regarding Senator Obama:
"And when you look at some of the planetariums and other foolishness that
he asked for, he shouldn't be saying anything about Governor Palin."

Rothstein, Edward. "Planetarium Review, Looking at the Stars From Angles Old and New."
The New York Times 2008 Feb. 16.
Regarding Adler Planetarium, Chicago.

Menke, David H. "Phillip Fox and the Adler Planetarium."
The Planetarian 1987 Januzry.

Fox, Philip. Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum,
An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum.

Chicago: The Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 1933.


First Director of Adler Planetarium: Philip Fox

In September of 1933, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum produced a 62-page book about the new institution, authored by the facility's Director, Philip Fox. The book titled, Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum, An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum, was published by the Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company of Chicago.

For more information about the author, Philip Fox:

Brief Biography *** Geneological Information

Menke, David H. "Phillip Fox and the Adler Planetarium."
The Planetarian 1987 Januzry.
By David H. Menke, Copernican Space Science Center,New Britain, Connecticut
[reprinted from the Planetarian, January 1987]


1933 Book:
Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum,
An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum

By Philip Fox

Adler Planetarium's First Planetarium Director

Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum, An Account of the Optical Planetarium and a Brief Guide to the Museum is reproduced, in its entirety, in the following image links. The copy of this book, reproduced here, came from the collection (pamphlet file) of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

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Transit of the Planet Venus Across Image of Sun - 2004 June 8
Friends of the Zeiss sponsored the only observing session of this historic event
in Pittsburgh, open to the general public, in conjunction with
the Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Heights Incline:


NEWS: Planetarium,
Astronomy, Space

Quick-Reference Page - Science Including
Current Weather Info & Maps
Precise Time & Calendars

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -
Astronomy and Other Sciences

Eclipse of the Sun / Solar Eclipse:
Tips For Safe Viewing

Astronomical Calendar:

Current Month

Current Year

Calendar Archives

Have a Question About Astronomy or Other Sciences? Ask an Expert from Friends of the Zeiss!

History of Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh - Master Index


Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < adler@planetarium.cc >
This Internet Web Page: < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com > *** Web Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
Web Page Disclaimer Statement & Info *** History of Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh - Master Index
Twitter Page: SpaceWatchtower *** Facebook Page: SpaceWatchtower

Other Internet Web Sites of Interest:

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

History of Astronomer, Educator, and Optician John A. Brashear, Friend of Andrew Carnegie

History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh
Including the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !

History of the Astronomical Observatory of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
, Pittsburgh

The Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh - Historic Cable Car Railway Serving Commuters and Tourists since 1877 !

Antique Telescope Society

Other History Links


Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web Site is not affiliated with the
Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Andrew Carnegie Free Library,
Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves Civil War Reenactment Group, Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory,
The Carnegie Science Center, The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute, or The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

This Internet, World Wide Web Site administered by Glenn A. Walsh.
Unless otherwise indicated, all pages in this web site are --
(C) Copyright 1999-2008, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
The author thanks The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the
Carnegie Library Community Network/Three Rivers Free-Net
for use of their digital scanner and other computer equipment,
and other assistance provided in the production of this web site.
Contact Web Site Administrator: adler@planetarium.cc
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