Zeiss IV Planetarium Projectors in Operation in 1980
By Glenn A.
Walsh, Friends of the Zeiss – 2008 January
The Zeiss II Planetarium Projector produced in 1938 by the
Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany, for The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
was the last Zeiss planetarium projector constructed before the onset of World
War II (and the last Zeiss Model II ever built). It was also the first
planetarium projector placed on an elevator (a custom-built “worm-gear”
elevator, utilizing four huge worm-gears, built by the Westinghouse Electric
Company). Once World War II began in September of 1939 (Buhl Planetarium’s
official dedication was actually 1939 October 24), the Carl Zeiss Optical Works
was converted to making bomb-sights for German military aircraft and tanks. This
facility was bombed and heavily damaged by the U.S. 8th Air Force in the Spring of
In addition to Buhl Planetarium’s Zeiss II Planetarium
Projector (which was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the
world, prior to its dismantling and storage in October of 2002), Buhl Planetarium
had also ordered a 4-inch Zeiss Refractor Telescope from the Carl Zeiss Optical
Works. This was Buhl Planetarium’s first telescope, before completion and
dedication of the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope (manufactured by Chicago’s Gaertner
Scientific Corporation) on 1941 November 19.
Of course, Buhl Planetarium had ordered an astronomical refractor telescope (i.e.
one which is better suited for viewing celestial objects, even though the image
is inverted, or “upside-down”). However, by mistake the Carl Zeiss Optical
Works had sent a terrestrial refractor
telescope (i.e. one where the image is not
inverted, in other words a “right-side-up” image to view objects on the Earth).
Buhl Planetarium management would have liked to send this
telescope back to the Zeiss Optical Works, in exchange for an astronomical
refractor. However, with the outbreak of World War II, such an exchange was
impossible. So, Buhl Planetarium learned to live with a terrestrial refractor
telescope, and now the City of Pittsburgh
(legal owner of both the Zeiss projector and Zeiss telescope—this telescope is
presently used by The Carnegie Science Center) has a Zeiss telescope with a
very unique history!
After World War II, the Yalta Agreement was implemented including
the partition of Germany
into eastern and western sectors. The Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena found itself within Communist-controlled Democratic
Republic of Germany (East
However, upon the U.S. Third Army encountering the Carl
Zeiss plant, after entering Jena
in April of 1945, they immediately started evacuating manufacturing assets and
documents to the American zone of occupation, before implementation of the
partition. Further, about 130 Carl Zeiss managers, engineers, and technicians
were also evacuated (most of them voluntarily) to Heidenheim (near Stuttgart),
where a temporary factory was set-up before a permanent factory was constructed
in the small town of Oberkochan.
War damage to the Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena was repaired, but much of the facility was relocated
to Moscow upon Russian control of Jena. However, eventually
Carl Zeiss Jena restarted, producing planetarium projectors again, but
primarily for Communist-bloc countries; a few also found their way to Canada.
A second Carl
Zeiss optical company was created in Oberkochan in the Federal Republic of
Germany (West Germany),
which started manufacturing planetarium projectors and other optical devices
for America, Europe, and other western nations.
Neither Zeiss company was able to produce planetarium
projectors for several years after the end of World War II. Consequently, the
California Academy of Sciences commissioned the production of, what is now, the
oldest American-built planetarium projector for the Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco. This
one-of-a-kind planetarium projector was dedicated on 1952 November 6.
Also, in 1949 the University
of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
dedicated a new planetarium, utilizing a Zeiss II projector that had been
originally installed in Stockholm,
Sweden in 1930.
The projector had been in storage for several years and was sold to the
University after World War II.
No further Zeiss II planetarium projectors were produced
after World War II. However, several Zeiss II projectors (including Adler
Planetarium’s Zeiss II in Chicago,
but not including Buhl Planetarium’s
Zeiss II) were upgraded to, what was then designated as, the Zeiss Model III.
These upgrades occurred at the new Oberkochan plant.
The first new
Zeiss planetarium projectors, produced at the Oberkochan plant, were designated
the Zeiss Model IV. Their production began in the mid-1950s.
The following is a list of the Zeiss Model IV Planetarium
Projectors that were in operation as of 1980. Few continue in operation as of
2008; most have been replaced with more modern projectors. Information for this
list came from the following book:
Charles F. Planetarium, Window to the Universe. Oberkochan, West
Germany: Carl Zeiss, 1980.
Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A. – 1967: Zeiss IV;
1968: Zeiss IV converted to Zeiss V.
Berlin (West Berlin), Germany – 1926: Zeiss II; 1965:
Zeiss IV; 1967 Zeiss IV converted to Zeiss V.
Bochum, West Germany – 1964
Buenos Aires, Argentina – 1967: Zeiss IV; 1971: Zeiss IV
converted to Zeiss V.
Caracas, Venezuela – 1961
Germany – 1930: Zeiss II; 1957: Zeiss IV.
London, England - 1958
Los Angeles, California
U.S.A. – 1935: Zeiss II; 1964: Zeiss IV.
Mexico, D.F. Mexico – 1967
Milan, Italy – 1930: Zeiss II; 1959: Zeiss II
converted to Zeiss III; 1968: Zeiss IV.
Montreal, Quebec Canada – 1966: Zeiss IV; 1967 (in time for Expo ’67 World’s Fair): Zeiss
IV converted to Zeiss V.
Morelia, Mexico – 1975
Germany – 1925: Zeiss I (very first Zeiss projector);
1960: Zeiss IV (Zeiss I became permanent
exhibit in Deutsches Museum).
Japan – 1962
New York City,
New York U.S.A.
(original Hayden Planetarium) – 1935: Zeiss II; 1960: Zeiss IV; 1969: Zeiss
– 1933: Zeiss II; 1962: Zeiss IV.
– 1962: received delivery of Zeiss IV;
1970: opened astronomical observatory; 1982: planetarium was expected to open.
Japan – 1938: Zeiss II (destroyed in World War II);
1957: Zeiss IV.
– 1927: Zeiss II (destroyed in
World War II); 1964: Zeiss IV.