Friends of the Zeiss

P.O. Box 1041                                                                   

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

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < >

Internet Web Site: < >


                       NEWS RELEASE


For immediate release: 2004 October 23

For more information -- Glenn A. Walsh:

      Daytime: E-Mail < >

      Evening: Telephone 412-561-7876


  Sunday Marks 65th Anniversary of Pioneer Planetarium in Pittsburgh


Pittsburgh, Oct. 23 – Sunday evening (October 24) marks the 65th anniversary of the dedication of the fifth major
planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh. The
following day, October 25, 1939, Buhl Planetarium opened to the general public.
The original Buhl Planetarium building housed a Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, which, until its dismantling in 2002,
was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world! It was the first planetarium projector to be placed
on an elevator, to increase the flexibility of the “Theater of the Stars.”
Buhl Planetarium’s Theater of the Stars was the first planetarium theater built with a permanent theatrical stage.
It was also the first planetarium theater in the world to install a special sound system, so persons with hearing
impairments can hear the planetarium “sky show.”
The Buhl Planetarium building also housed a 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope (second largest of
its unique type), large Mercator’s Projection Map of the World (world’s largest, when first installed at the
1939 World’s Fair in New York City), and The Rise of Steel Technology mural (commissioned by the U.S. Steel
Corporation and painted by local artist Nat Youngblood).
The Buhl Planetarium building exterior, including external statuary (by well-known sculptor Sidney Waugh)
and inscriptions, was constructed of Indiana Limestone, with much of the interior built with Siena marble from Italy.
It was the first publicly-owned building in the city, and possibly the state, to be constructed with air-conditioning!
Among the many exhibits in Buhl Planetarium’s galleries included 21 classic “push-button” exhibits, regarding
Astronomical and Meteorological subjects, in Buhl Planetarium’s “Hall of the Universe.” And, on the Mezzanine level,
there were seven astronomical paintings, painted by Pennsylvania artist and architect Daniel Owen Stephens,
as well as a portrait of the Polish Astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, commissioned by the Polish Arts League of Pittsburgh.
More information on the history of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science can be found on the Internet at
< >.
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Glenn A. Walsh
Electronic Mail - < > 
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: 
  < > 
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: 
  < >
* Astronomer & Optician John A. Brashear: 
  < > 
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: 
  < > 
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh: 
  < >