World War II & Buhl Planetarium

There were at least four significant events, related to World War II, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science ---

1} The original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was dedicated on Tuesday Evening, 1939 October 24. Two scientific instruments had been imported from the Carl Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany for Buhl Planetarium (legally, both instruments are owned by the City of Pittsburgh):

a) Zeiss II Planetarium Projector (until 2002 dismantling, oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world!)

b) 4-inch Zeiss Refractor Telescope - However, Zeiss made a mistake. Buhl ordered an astronomical refractor telescope (where the image is displayed up-side-down), but Zeiss sent Buhl a terrestrial refractor telescope (where the image is right-side-up). Astronomers prefer up-side-down images, because it takes more optics to make an image right-side-up, and light is lost every time you add more optics to a telescope. However, due to the commencement of World War II on 1939 September 1, Buhl officials could not return the terrestrial telescope to Germany and request an astronomical telescope be sent in its place. So, Buhl had to make-due with a terrestrial telescope, which is still being used today at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory of The Carnegie Science Center. More info and photo: Link >>>

2) On Wednesday Evening, 1941 November 19, Buhl's historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope was dedicated. On the same evening, a new planetarium show began, titled "Bombers by Starlight," regarding Celestial Navigation used by the military. On the same evening, a new traveling exhibit began in Buhl's Octagon Gallery, titled "Can America Be Bombed?" This was two and one-half weeks before the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii! Photograph of "Can America Be Bombed?" exhibit when it was displayed in Cleveland in 1942 (6th image in this blog-post): Link >>>

3) During World War II, Buhl Planetarium was used to train military aviators in Celestial Navigation, before they went overseas.

4) The Army Air Force Air Power Show, an expanded version of a similar show at New York's Rockefeller Center, took over all of the exhibit galleries of Buhl Planetarium in October of 1944. News article regarding an Indian WAC who painted a mural for the Air Power Show: Link >>>

5) Carl F. Wapiennik, who served as Executive Director of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science from 1964 to 1983, was a radar specialist aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Randolph during World War II. Before his work at Buhl, Wapiennik was employed by Radio Corp. of America in the Pittsburgh suburb of Canonsburg PA, and the Naval Research Laboratories in Washington, DC.

6) The World War II-era USS Requin Submarine (SS-481) became a special history and technology exhibit of the Buhl Science Center (a.k.a. Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science) on 1990 October 20. At that time, it was moored in the Ohio River (about a mile west of Downtown Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle) adjacent to the North Shore site of the then-under-construction Carnegie Science Center.

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"World War II & Buhl Planetarium"

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