Original Buhl Planetarium “sHINING sTAR” To SHine Once More
Pittsburgh — Generations of Pittsburghers will have the chance to rediscover the Zeiss Model II Star Projector, originally in use from 1939 to 1991 at the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, in a new exhibition opening tomorrow at Carnegie Science Center.
The new exhibition, located in the Atrium on the first floor, will pay tribute to the honored legacy begun by the Buhl Planetarium so many years ago and offer interactive experiences related to this iconic artifact. Featured highlights include a ‘time machine’ that will let visitors select any year from 1939 to today and see what was happening in the world of astronomy during that year; and a star clock, which will allow them to pick any date and time and see some of the major constellations in the sky as they will appear that night.
The Zeiss Model II Star Projector was the workhorse of the Buhl Planetarium from 1939 until Carnegie Science Center opened in 1991, after which it was reserved for special programming. Complex clockwork mechanisms allowed it to accurately project the stars at any point in time, from any place on the Earth. Among many other notable uses, Air Corps pilots used the Buhl’s Zeiss Model II Projector to train during World War II. It was the last remaining unaltered Zeiss Projector in the world when it was officially retired in 1994.
“The Zeiss Projector is an important part of Pittsburgh’s history, and we are very excited to return this amazing piece of technology for the generations of visitors who walk through our doors,” says Ann Metzger, Henry Buhl, Jr. Co-Director. “Thanks to a generous gift from the Buhl Foundation, we are able to honor our past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future with this exhibition.”
The Buhl Foundation was created in 1927 in honor of the late Henry Buhl, Jr., to lead several civic projects, including the construction of a planetarium. The Buhl Planetarium was the fifth major planetarium in the United States—joining those in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. It featured a 492-seat “Theater of the Stars” and boasted a 65-foot-diameter dome. for decades it served millions of visitors spanning several generations, from the merely curious to future NASA astronauts.
Since 1991, the Buhl legacy and mission has continued at Carnegie Science Center, thanks to the leadership support of the Buhl Foundation for the Buhl Digital Planetarium and related astronomy programming. Carnegie Science Center has established itself internationally as a leading creator of quality planetarium shows with innovative content. More than 1,000 programs have been distributed throughout the United States and across four continents. These shows have been translated into 18 languages.
In September 2006, the Science Center installed a full-dome digital projection system purchased with a $1 million gift from the Buhl Foundation. The visual impact and programming flexibility of this system vastly expands the nature and breadth of subject matter showcased in the planetarium. Although the new system is used most extensively for astronomy programs, it also can be used for scientific fields, particularly the biological sciences, chemistry, and engineering.
The new Zeiss Model II Star Projector exhibition was made possible by a $100,000 gift from the Buhl Foundation. High-resolution historical images of the Zeiss II Planetarium Star Projector and Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science are available on the Science Center’s Flickr site.
About Carnegie Science Center
Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes and Science on the Road off-site education programs.
About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. In 2008, the museums reached more than 1.4 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.