"Firsts" & World Records of

The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2006 October




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

       First planetarium theater which included a permanent theatrical stage;

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

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

       First permanent Siderostat Telescope specifically designed for public use; also, largest such Siderostat Telescope permanently mounted and specifically designed for public use;

     First regional Science Fair for school students (from 26 counties in Pennsylvania and 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;

       First marriage proposal delivered as part of a laser-light concert (and, possibly, first marriage proposal delivered in a planetarium theater): 1990 September 16 at end of "Aerosmith" concert, performed by Laser Fantasy International Operations Manager Curtis Williams, in the Theater of the Stars of the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center).


World Records


     The Zeiss Mark 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; the unaltered Zeiss II operated and presented the realistic views of planets and stars in the night sky to the general public, each day of the year (except New Year's Day in the early years; except Christmas Day in the later years) for more than 54 years !!!


     The last major planetarium constructed before World War II (dedicated 1939 October 24);


     The last Zeiss Mark II Planetarium Projector manufactured (dedicated 1939 October 24);


     The fifth Zeiss planetarium installation in America (dedicated 1939 October 24);


     For more than 53 years (beginning in late 1940), Buhl Planetarium housed an exhibit that was considered the largest Mercators Projection Map in the world;


     World record for showing planetarium shows continuously, back-to-back [Buhl Planetarium maintained this world record, alone, until the record was equaled in 2002 by the McFerson Planetarium of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio.] 10 sky shows;


     World record for continuous, back-to-back, public performances in a planetarium [Buhl Planetarium maintained this world record until the record was exceeded by a 32-hour planetarium marathon in 2007 by the Sudekum Planetarium, of the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.] 14 performances (including planetarium sky dramas and laser-light concerts).


gaw 2006 Oct. 11

"Firsts" & World Records of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2006 October

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < buhlfirsts@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
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2006 October

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Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh
Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web Site is not affiliated with the Andrew Carnegie Free Library,
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