Statement Before the

Statement Before the Glenn A. Walsh

Council of the City of Pittsburgh P.O. Box 1041

Regarding Retaining Functionality of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041

Historic City Equipment in Buhl Planetarium Telephone: 412-561-7876

2001 November 14 E-Mail: < >

Web Site: < >

Good afternoon. My name is Glenn A. Walsh; I reside at 633 Royce Avenue in Mount Lebanon.

Yesterday afternoon, City Council held a Post-Agenda meeting regarding the proposed Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center. Several clarifications, of information provided at that session, are necessary.

A popular misconception is that the original Buhl Planetarium building was vacated, with the opening of The Carnegie Science Center in October of 1991. This is not true. At that time, The Carnegie Science Center had committed themselves to use the Buhl Planetarium building, which they re-christened as the "Allegheny Square Annex of The Carnegie Science Center," as a tutorial center. All of the Science Center's Science and Computer classes would be held in that building, as the new building was not constructed with classroom space.

This tutorial center use continued until February of 1994, when the entire building was closed as, what The Carnegie Science Center described, a cost-cutting measure. The Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope were used for Astronomy classes until February of 1994. Interestingly, while the new Science Center building was working its way, financially, out of red ink at that time, the Buhl Planetarium building was in the black financially due to class tuitions-the only exception to this was during the months the Buhl Planetarium building operated air conditioning.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector IS the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world! Claims made, otherwise, by The Carnegie Science Center, are false! The 1937 projector in Springfield, Massachusetts is not a planetarium; a planetarium is a much more complex instrument than the Springfield stellarium. No pre-World War II planetarium projector in the world can be operated today, except Buhl's Zeiss projector.

The Zeiss projector was designed specifically to display stars under a 65-foot diameter dome. No matter what claims are made, it cannot display the proper constellation configurations anywhere else. The most you could do with the Zeiss projector, in another location, is turn the lights on and off.

Removal of the Zeiss projector would mean the abandonment and probable dismantling of the historic Westinghouse worm-gear elevator, which the Zeiss projector rides upon. Often when an engineer visited Buhl Planetarium, he or she would request to see this rather unique elevator, below the Theater of the Stars. The Buhl's Zeiss projector was the first projector in the world to be placed on an elevator!

With proper maintenance, the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope could once again educate and enlighten the youth of Pittsburgh. It would not take huge sums of money to maintain this equipment, as they were in use until the building closed in 1994. As I mentioned yesterday, we are prepared to form a non-profit corporation to raise funds to maintain this equipment, once we are assured that they will remain in the building.

Three minutes is not a long period of time. Hence, I will be back next week with further comments on the Post-Agenda meeting.

Thank you.


History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

On the Internet: < >