Friends of the Zeiss Public Statement For
P.O. Box 1041 The Council of the
Pittsburgh PA 15230-1041 U.S.A. City of Pittsburgh
Telephone: 412-561-7876 By Glenn A. Walsh:
Electronic Mail: < email@example.com > Science Center Addition
Internet Web Site: < http://www.planetarium.cc > Omits Historic Telescope
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2016 November 14
PHOTO OF BUHL’S SIDEROSTAT-TYPE TELESCOPE ON PAGE 2
Good morning, I am Glenn A. Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss. From 1986 to 1991, I was Astronomical Observatory Coordinator at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Allegheny Center.
This week (November 19th) marks the 75th anniversary of a historic telescope operated at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium from 1941 to 1991. Called a Siderostat-Type Telescope, it has a unique design, specifically for public use. It allows the public to remain in a heated room, while the telescope stays out in the cooler air. With a 10-inch lens, upon reinstallation it would be the largest Siderostat-Type Telescope in the world, as two larger such telescopes have both been dismantled.
In 2002, in anticipation of reuse of Buhl Planetarium by the Children’s Museum, the City issued an RFP regarding reuse of this City-owned telescope. Friends of the Zeiss responded with a proposal to use the telescope, in-place, to benefit children visiting the Children’s Museum. The Carnegie Science Center told the City they would store the telescope until it could be installed in a future Science Center addition. With a legal Memorandum of Understanding, the City accepted the Science Center’s proposal.
Last month, the Science Center unveiled a plan to build a $21 million building expansion and then reneged on its promise to install the historic telescope in this future addition. Was the Science Center ever serious about installing this telescope in a building addition? Or was the Science Center’s true goal to dismantle the telescope so neither Friends of the Zeiss, nor the Children’s Museum, could use this telescope in competition with their new 16-inch reflector telescope? Sadly, the evidence now seems clear that the Science Center’s true motive was to prevent competition with their new telescope!
Now, this historic telescope has no home. The telescope’s previous home is now used as a Board Room for the Children’s Museum. Had the telescope not been dismantled, there would be no major cost for its reuse, and it could have benefited children visiting the Children’s Museum over the last decade. However, a major reinstallation cost means that this historic telescope will likely remain in storage indefinitely, educating no one.
The Carnegie Science Center has acted improperly in this matter and should be held accountable for poor stewardship of important and historic, City property. We, respectfully, ask that this Council address this issue with Carnegie Museums management.