Friends of the Zeiss                                      Public Statement Before

P.O. Box 1041                                                                        Planning Commission of

Pittsburgh, PA 15230-1041 U.S.A.                     †††††††††††††††† the City of Pittsburgh

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                                      By Glenn A. Walsh --

E-Mail: < fotz >††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Science Center Master Plan:

Web Site: < >     †††††††††† Siderostat Observatory

Blog: < >††††††††††††††† Missing

2016 October 4


Good afternoon, I am Glenn Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss. From 1986 to 1991, I was Astronomical Observatory Coordinator of the original Buhl Planetarium in Allegheny Center.


We have reviewed The Carnegie Science Center MDP and find something missing: an observatory for a historic, city-owned telescope that the Science Center promised the City, by legal memorandum of understanding, would be included in the Science Center expansion. However, the height, location, and configuration of the proposed expansion makes installation of any telescope not feasible. Hence, we question if installation of this telescope was seriously considered.


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. Built at Buhl Planetarium in 1941, it will mark its 75th anniversary on November 19th. With a 10-inch lens, upon re-installation it would be the largest Siderostat-Type Telescope in the world, as two larger such telescopes have both been dismantled.


In 2002, when this historic telescope was dismantled, the City allowed the Science Center to store the telescope until a building addition is built. At a 2008 Planning Commission Hearing, Science Center Co-Director Ron Baillie said he would provide the Commission with a copy of the legal memorandum of understanding, between the City and the Science Center, regarding reuse of the telescope.


According to a 2013 Pursuant Ketchum Fundraising Analysis, funding any Science Center expansion would be difficult. So, it seems unlikely another expansion could occur in the foreseeable future.


We ask that the Planning Commission seek clarification of this issue before approving the MDP. Our question is simple: With this city-owned telescope removed from Buhl Planetarium, and, currently, no feasible way to install it at the Science Center, how will the Science Center now keep its legal commitment to the City, and when will city residents, again, be able to use this historic telescope?