Carnegie Science Center: Press Release Detail

Carnegie Science Center Plans New Astronomy Exhibit Featuring Historic Zeiss II Star Projector

Date: 8/18/2009

PITTSBURGH, August 18, 2009 —Carnegie Science Center today announced plans for the development of a permanent astronomy exhibition featuring the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Star Projector from the Theater of the Stars in the former Buhl Science Center.

The 70-year-old Zeiss projector will be displayed as the centerpiece of the interactive astronomy exhibit. The projector will be located in the Science Center’s atrium with a touch screen presenting historic information on the projector and the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, later renamed the Buhl Science Center.

“The Zeiss projector is an important part of Pittsburgh’s history, and we have been dedicated for some time now to the public display of this amazing piece of technology,” said Ron Baillie, Carnegie Science Center Co-Director. “Our Zeiss projector was one of the first five planetarium projectors in the United States when the Buhl opened in 1939, and it is important we place this historical and educational tool in a place of prominence and use it to continue to inspire our visitors.”

This October marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Buhl, the predecessor to Carnegie Science Center. When it opened in 1939, the main attraction was the Theater of the Stars, Pittsburgh’s first planetarium experience. The Zeiss II Star Projector in the theater accurately displayed 9,000 of the brightest stars in the sky, the stars and planets of the northern and southern hemispheres, and could replicate the night sky in time periods spanning tens of thousands of years.

“We’re always touched by the high regard in which our visitors hold their experiences at the Buhl Science Center, and in particular in the Theater of the Stars,” said John Radzilowicz, Carnegie Science Center Director of Science and Education. “Many people in the region remember their trips to the Buhl, and visiting the Theater of the Stars was a driving force for some to explore science interests and careers. While planetarium technology has changed, in its time, the Zeiss was state-of-the-art. This artifact is an important milestone in planetarium technology and a cherished piece of Pittsburgh history.”

Since the merger of the Buhl Science Center with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in 1987 and the creation of Carnegie Science Center in 1991, the Science Center has developed planetarium and astronomy programs that have reached millions of people around the globe. In 2006, Carnegie Science Center installed a new state-of-the-art, high-definition digital projection system in its planetarium. The upgrade was funded by a $1 million grant from The Buhl Foundation, and the planetarium was renamed the Buhl Digital Dome.

The most recent project of the Buhl Digital Dome was the creation of the full-dome, digital planetarium show , a companion piece to the PBS-produced show 400 Years of the Telescope. Both programs were created in celebration of the anniversary of the first use of the telescope to explore the skies by Galileo. More than 1,000 copies of Two Small Pieces of Glass have been distributed to planetariums in more than 50 countries around the world. The show has been translated into 9 languages for international distribution.

The astronomy exhibition featuring the Zeiss projector is scheduled to open in late 2010, and is 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.

For more information, please contact Mike Marcus, Carnegie Science Center Director of Marketing & Community Affairs at or call at 412.237.1657.

About Carnegie Science Center

Carnegie Science Center brings the world of science alive for visitors of all ages. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center features hundreds of hands-on exhibits, three live demonstration theaters, a four-story IMAX® Dome theater, an interactive full-dome digital planetarium, a Cold War submarine moored on Pittsburgh’s Ohio River, and a world-renowned model railroad display. Carnegie Science Center is located at One Allegheny Avenue on Pittsburgh’s North Shore next to Heinz Field. Visit or call 412.237.3400 for more information.

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. Collectively, the museums reach 1.4 million people annually through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.

Back to Press Release List