The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
Chicago, Illinois

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

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.

Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

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.

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 October 24, 1939.

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 November 27, 1999, at the age of 96 years.


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

Photograph of the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector used in the first years of operation of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
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.

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 of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

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Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh



Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web page is not affiliated with the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum,
Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory, The Carnegie Science Center,
or The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute.

This Internet, World Wide Web Site, created October 3, 1999, administered by Glenn A. Walsh.
Copyright 1999-2000, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
Additions and corrections to: Jake@planetarium.cc

Last modified : Sunday, 23-Jul-2000 17:55:03 EDT.

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