Friends of the Zeiss                                          Public Statement For

P.O. Box 1041                                                                        Pittsburgh City

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                       Planning Commission

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                                      By Glenn A. Walsh:

Electronic Mail: < >      New Casino Lighting &

Internet Web Site: < >               Science Center Observatory


2007 May 1


Good afternoon, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Last month, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Carnegie Science Center Director Joanna Haas testified to you that lighting from the new casino could eliminate

their ability to use the Science Center’s rooftop observatory. Well, I served as Astronomical Observatory Coordinator at the original Buhl Planetarium and

Institute of Popular Science in Allegheny Center, from 1986 to 1991, so I have some expertise in this matter.


Astronomical observing within the City of Pittsburgh has always been a challenge. This is why the original Allegheny Observatory was moved from Perry Hilltop to

Riverview Park a hundred years ago. And, this is why 20 years ago the Allegheny Observatory replaced the original John Brashear lens, on their 30-inch Thaw Refractor

Telescope, with a new lens that partially screens-out light-pollution.


Light-pollution denies people in the city and environs the ability to see a major part of nature: the dimmer stars and other celestial objects in the night sky. As the classic

constellation star pictures we inherited from our ancestors are composed of both bright stars and dim stars, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people in cities

and metropolitan areas to see the dimmer stars, and hence, make-out the constellations, which our ancestors had no problems seeing. This is robbing newer generations

the ability to see this part of nature, which is just as important as the loss of wetlands and other wild ecosystems.


The Carnegie Science Center does have a valid point, in their concern that the new casino could provide additional light-pollution that hinders views of the night-sky

by the naked-eye. And, this impact on naked-eye observing would be at its worst at the current Science Center site, next-door to the new casino. I would urge Don Barden

to carefully use lighting for the new casino that does not scatter extraneous light into the sky. However, I do believe that the Science Center is, unnecessarily,

exaggerating when they claim that the telescopes at their astronomical observatory would become unusable following construction of the new casino.


When the general public viewed objects with a telescope at the original Buhl Planetarium, during our Friday evening public observing sessions in the 1980s and

early 1990s, they were primarily interested in seeing bright objects such as the Moon, planets, and bright stars. Even being in the middle of the city, with Three Rivers

Stadium only a few blocks away, there was never a light-pollution problem showing the public the Moon, planets, and the brighter stars with Buhl Planetarium telescopes.


Since the Observatory at the original Buhl Planetarium was only open to the public one evening each week, we also had an active daytime public observing program.

Weather-permitting, we would use a large projection screen to show visitors dark areas on the surface of the Sun called sunspots. And, if the sky was clear enough

in the daytime, we could also allow the public to look through the telescope to see the Moon, the planets Mercury, Venus—with phase, Mars, and

Jupiter—with cloud belts, and some of the brightest stars—to “third magnitude” in brightness. Yes, with a clear sky and a good telescope, you can see planets

and stars in the daytime—and at the original Buhl Planetarium Observatory we did this routinely !!!


Light-pollution is a major problem today, which inhibits naked-eye views of an important part of nature, in cities and metropolitan areas. And, lighting from a

new casino could greatly impact naked-eye observing from the Science Center site. However, The Carnegie Science Center’s contention that casino lighting

could eliminate use of the telescopes at their astronomical observatory is an exaggeration.


Thank you.




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