Dear Friends,


Sorry for the delay in this Christmas greeting. I became ill about a week before traditional Christmas. Hopefully, this greeting will reach you around the time of Christmas according to the Julian Calendar (i.e. Orthodox Christmas: Jan. 7) and the Epiphany (Jan. 6) which is the subject of Buhl Planetarium’s long-running Star of Bethlehem planetarium sky show, pictured on the front of the Christmas card.


Updates: Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Library – 2005 December


Update -- Buhl Planetarium: On July 26, by a unanimous vote, Pittsburgh City Council declared The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science to be a “City Designated Historic Structure.” This was the culmination of a six-month process, for the historic designation of this well-known Pittsburgh landmark, begun by city resident Jon Wilson Smith on behalf of Friends of the Zeiss.


The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science opened in 1939 as the last major planetarium constructed before World War II, and the fifth Zeiss planetarium installation in America. The original Buhl Planetarium had several historic firsts:

Ø       First planetarium projector placed on an elevator, to increase the variety of performances in the Theater of the Stars;

Ø       First planetarium theater which included a permanent theatrical stage;

Ø       First planetarium theater (and, perhaps, first theater) to install a special sound system specifically for the hearing impaired—remember, this was in 1939 !;

Ø       First publicly-owned building in the City (and, possibly, the State) constructed with air-conditioning;

Ø       First permanent Siderostat Telescope specifically designed for public use;

Ø       First regional Science Fair for school students (from 23 counties in Pennsylvania and 3 counties in West Virginia) in the country started at Buhl Planetarium in the Spring of 1940. Only two state-wide science fairs are older than the annual Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair.


Additionally, for more than 53 years, Buhl Planetarium housed an exhibit that was considered the largest Mercator’s Projection Map in the world! And, the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, which operated as the primary educational instrument of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science for nearly 55 years, was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world before being dismantled in October of 2002.


This historic designation vote came within an hour of the successful return to space of America’s Space Shuttle; the launch of Discovery was the first Space Shuttle launch in more than two years, since the tragic explosion of Columbia. The historic designation of Buhl Planetarium officially took effect on August 1.


Historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts, including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercator’s Projection Map of the world remain dismantled and in storage at the Miller Warehouse building, across the street from The Carnegie Science Center. Originally, The Carnegie Science Center told the City of Pittsburgh that the Zeiss II and Mercator’s Map would be reassembled by the end of 2005, while the Siderostat Telescope would be reassembled with the completion of the planned $90 million expansion of the Science Center.


With the 2003 cancellation of The Carnegie Science Center’s proposed $90 million expansion project, the Science Center told the City that reassembly of the Zeiss II Projector would be “delayed” until the end of 2006. They propose to reassemble the Zeiss II, as a partially-working exhibit (it could not present sky shows), just outside of the current Science Center planetarium. They said nothing about reassembly of the Siderostat or Mercator’s Map. Considering that reassembly of the Zeiss II in that location would take space away from the Science Center’s traveling exhibits gallery (which is considered important for attracting both new visitors and repeat business), I do not expect the Zeiss II to actually be reassembled at the end of next year; next year, at this time, I expect the Science Center will announce another “delay.”


In February, the Children’s Museum held an official celebration marking the return of the Foucault Pendulum to the beautiful Pendulum Pit in the Buhl Planetarium building, although the Pendulum had actually been on public display at Buhl Planetarium two years earlier (but was not working properly until 2004 November). The Pendulum had been displayed at The Carnegie Science Center for some years, previously. A written explanation of the Pendulum operation, posted on an easel, was displayed during the February celebration; neither this, nor any other written explanation, is now posted near the Pendulum Pit.


The Children’s Museum continued making changes to the Buhl Planetarium building this year, including conversion of the Observatory into a Board Room and even painting several Mezzanine doors (to the Octagon Gallery and to the former public rest rooms) a dark gray (after more than 65 years with the original wood color of these doors!).


Friends of the Zeiss continues working toward the long-term goal of return of the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts, unused since 1994 and dismantled in 2002, to the original Buhl Planetarium building, to be used in the education of children visiting the


(More – Next Page)

Updates: Buhl Planetarium & Carnegie Library – 2005 Dec. -- Page 2 of 2



Children’s Museum. And, this month we were informed that there are now plans to reinstall the historic Zeiss III (a renovated Zeiss II) Planetarium Projector in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which was dismantled and stored in 1996.


In May, International Space Station (Expedition 9) Astronaut Mike Fincke, who credits Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium for his interest in becoming an astronaut, had a small acting role on the series finale of the UPN Television science-fiction program, Star Trek: Enterprise. Mr. Fincke played a Star Fleet engineer in one scene on the show. In February, Mr. Fincke addressed hometown crowds at Sewickley Academy and Avonworth High School, regarding his space station mission.


This year, a new book was published describing the beginning of planetarium theaters in America. Theaters of Time and Space, American Planetaria, 1930-1970 was written by Jordan D. Marche II, who had interviewed Friends of the Zeiss Project Director Glenn A. Walsh in May of 1995. The book shows the significance of Buhl Planetarium, in the beginning of the planetarium profession in the United States.


One Reminder: The History of Buhl Planetarium/Friends of the Zeiss Internet web site, < >, not only includes the history of Buhl Planetarium, but also a lot of current information on Astronomy and other sciences--including current astronomical/sky events, links to scientific news stories, and a “Quick-Reference Page” which includes links to other Astronomy and Science web sites. Also, there is a FAQ page which includes scientific explanations for questions on Astronomy and other sciences (answered by former Buhl Planetarium staff members including Eric G. Canali, Francis G. Graham, and Glenn A. Walsh); you may send questions to the following electronic mail address:

< >.


Update – Carnegie Library: Herb Elish, who had been the non-professional Library Director of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh since the untimely death of Library Director Robert B. Croneberger in 1998, left the Library in late Winter. In April, it was announced that Barbara K. Mistick would become the new Library Director in June. Although she has a Ph.D, in Management from Case Western Reserve University, she, also, does not have a Masters degree in Library Science, as required for directors of State-funded public libraries in Pennsylvania (Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code). As happened with Mr. Elish, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is expected to grant, yet, another waiver of regulations, to allow Dr. Mistick to continue as Library Director.


Also, in Pittsburgh, the East Liberty Branch celebrated their centennial in October; however, the original Carnegie Library branch building had been razed in 1960s, due to an urban renewal project which did not succeed. And, in December it was announced that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Reading Center in the Upper Hill District would close permanently on December 30, due the Library’s financial problems. In the 1980s, this Reading Center, and the small Hill District Branch Library about a mile away, replaced the original 1899, Andrew Carnegie-built Wylie Avenue Branch Library building which was sold and is now used as a mosque.


Earlier this year, the second floor Lecture Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Pittsburgh) was renovated, including the restoration of original, decorative light fixtures found in the basement. An elevator has been added for ADA accessibility. This is the first phase of an $8.6 million project to completely restore the historic building—the fourth Carnegie Library built and endowed by Andrew Carnegie.


The Carnegie Library in Oakmont, Pennsylvania (another Pittsburgh suburb) has been working on a $2 million expansion of their historic building. The project is almost complete, and a dedication ceremony was expected this year. However, lighting and electrical aspects of the project are still not complete. Although the addition is finished and in public use, the original section of the Library (which is scheduled to primarily house the children’s area) is closed while renovations continue. Once the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry grants an occupancy permit for the original section of the Library, the grand opening will be scheduled, probably in the Spring.


Another historic Carnegie Public Library in Poseyville, Indiana was closed for about a month, following the unexpected firing of their long-time library director. Most town residents, particularly children, were quite upset with the firing, which was not adequately explained by the Library Board. In fact, the only other library employee quit in disgust, following the firing. Just before Halloween, the library reopened with a new library director. However, the town has still never received an adequate explanation for the firing.


gaw                                         ( Update: Buhl Planetarium -- begins on page one. )


Glenn A. Walsh              Internet Web Sites - History of Buhl Planetarium: < >

P.O. Box 1041                                                        Friends of the Zeiss: < >

Pittsburgh PA 15230-1041  U.S.A.                    Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: < >

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                    Preserving Carnegie Libraries: < >

E-Mail: < >