Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dispute: Ownership of Brashear Time Capsule

The lid was removed and contents removed and kept in their original order.
Photograph of Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule
immediately after being opened. As the contents were
removed for inspection and photo-documentation, the
contents were kept in their original order while in the
Time Capsule. (Image Source: Al Paslow)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

A dispute has arisen over the legal ownership of a Time Capsule uncovered during the demolition of the historic Brashear Telescope Factory building on Pittsburgh's North Side. Although the City of Pittsburgh has owned the land and building since 2012, the Jadell Minniefield Construction Company believes the emergency city demolition contract allows them to keep all salvageable materials from the demolition.

The Brashear Telescope Factory building, built in May of 1886 near the site of the original Allegheny Observatory and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, was originally the home of the John A. Brashear Company which had manufactured hundreds of telescopes and precise scientific instruments for observatories and scientific institutions throughout the world, in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

With limited formal education, John Brashear had transformed his love of Astronomy into a business, due to his expert craftsmanship in producing exquisite optics for telescopes and other instruments. He was Acting Director of the Allegheny Observatory, and later Acting Chancellor of the Western University of Pennsylvania (today's University of Pittsburgh), refusing permanent appointment to both positions. He, along with two other civic leaders, assisted Andrew Carnegie in designing the Carnegie Technical Schools (known today as Carnegie Mellon University).

Demolition of the historic Brashear Telescope Factory building, which had been vacant for about 20 years, was necessitated after a wall of the building collapsed onto a nearby two-floor apartment building. The apartment building had to be evacuated, until city inspectors declared the building safe for occupancy.

The wall collapse had occurred on March 16, with demolition of the rest of the building beginning the next day. When the author and editor of this SpaceWatchtower blog, Glenn A. Walsh, viewed the site on the evening of the Vernal Equinox (March 20, the official beginning of the season of Spring), the majority of the building had been brought-down, with the exception of small portions of the north and south walls. In a March 24 electronic mail message, Antique Telescope Society member Al Paslow reported that the demolition was completed, and the site has been covered in straw, as of Tuesday afternoon (March 24).

The demolition crew reported to have found the Time Capsule on March 22, while bringing down the last wall, on the north side of the building. They were unsuccessful in attempts to contact the city and the Heinz History Center regarding the find. So, on Tuesday when Al Paslow visited the demolition site, it was decided to open the Time Capsule and photo-document the contents.

On Wednesday morning, shortly after the SpaceWatchtower blog published the story of the finding of the Time Capsule, Matthew S. McHale, Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh Department of Law, sent an electronic mail message to SpaceWatchtower Editor Glenn A. Walsh seeking information on the whereabouts of the Time Capsule and contents. By early afternoon, Mr. Walsh had confirmed that the demolition company retained possession of the Time Capsule and contents, thanks to the assistance of another member of the Antique Telescope Society, Janet Gunter (who also serves on the Boards of the Perry Hilltop Citizens' Council and the Allegheny City Society historical association). Mr. Walsh, then, transmitted this information to Mr. McHale.

When the City Law Department sought possession of the historic artifacts, the Hazelwood demolition company maintained it was part of the salvageable materials from the demolition, and hence, the demolition company retains ownership of the Time Capsule and contents. The City Law Department is now looking into their legal options for obtaining control of the historic artifacts. The demolition company is consulting with their attorney.

More details in Pittsburgh's morning newspapers ---

Kerlik, Bobby. "Brashear capsule donation sought by history center."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2015 March 26.
Link >>> http://triblive.com/lifestyles/history/8052997-74/capsule-brashear-demolition

Hasch, Michael. "Demolition of Brashear factory in Pittsburgh's North Side uncovers time capsule."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2015 March 26.
Link >>> http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/8048654-74/capsule-brashear-demolition

Majors, Dan and Amy McConnell Schaarsmith.
"Who owns the time capsule found at historic Brashear factory?"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2015 March 25.
Link >>> http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/03/25/Time-capsule-unearthed-during-demolition-of-historic-John-Brashear-factory-Pittsburgh/stories/201503250207

Photographs of Brashear Telescope Factory Building Time Capsule Contents, from the Al Paslow Astronomy Collection:
Link >>> http://al-paslow.smugmug.com/Other/John-Brashear-Time-Capsule/48206094_Grz6HB#!i=3951044359&k=RCqKLfF

More on John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/

More on the Allegheny Observatory: Link >>> http://www.pitt.edu/~aobsvtry/

John Brashear - Links to Special Resources: Brashear Telescope Factory Building:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/speciallinks/brashearfactory.html

Related Blog Posts ---


Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule Found & Opened  (2015 March 25):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/brashear-telescope-factory-time-capsule.html

 

Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Wall Collapses (2015 March 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/historic-brashear-telescope-factory.html

 

Brashear House & Factory: Nomination to National Register of Historic Places  (2012 Oct. 11): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/nomination-to-national-register-of.html


Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh (2012 Sept. 13): 

Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/09/historic-nomination-john-brashear-house.html


Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication (2012 August 28):

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/centennial-new-allegheny-observatory.html


Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film (2012 April 19) :
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/04/pittsburghs-allegheny-observatory-new.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule Found & Opened

This is a picture of the employees of John A. Brashear's mechanical department dated August 1894. On the back of this they are listed by name.
Photograph, from August of 1894, of the employees of the Mechanical Department of the John
A. Brashear Company, which produced telescopes and other precise scientific instruments. This
is one of the documents from a time capsule found in the now-demolished telescope factory
building built on Pittsburgh's North Side in 1886. (Image Source: Al Paslow)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Yesterday (March 24), Al Paslow, a member of the Antique Telescope Society, and members of a demolition crew opened a time capsule, a small brass box sealed with solder, that had been placed inside a cornerstone of the now-demolished Brashear Telescope Factory building on the North Side of Pittsburgh. The building, built in May of 1886 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, was originally the home of the John A. Brashear Company which had manufactured hundreds of telescopes and precise scientific instruments for observatories and scientific institutions throughout the world, in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

Demolition of the historic building, which had been vacant for about 20 years, was necessitated after a wall of the building collapsed onto a nearby two-floor apartment building on March 16. The apartment building had to be evacuated, until city inspectors declared the building safe for occupancy. Jadell Minniefield Construction Company, of the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, demolished the Brashear Telescope Factory building under an emergency demolition order issued by Maura Kennedy, who heads the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections.

While inspecting the remains of the nearly-demolished building yesterday, members of the demolition crew showed Al Paslow a time capsule that had been found near a building cornerstone a few days earlier. After calls to several societies and organizations went without result, it was decided that Al Paslow and three members of the demolition crew would open the time capsule and photo-document the contents.

As displayed at the beginning of this blog post, one photograph in the time capsule shows employees of the Mechanical Department of the John A. Brashear Company. The photograph is dated August of 1894, which is eight years after the construction of the Brashear Telescope Factory building. So, unlike most building time capsules, apparently this time capsule was installed after building completion, instead of during the laying of the building's cornerstone.

The time capsule also included:

  • a letter from John Brashear;
  • newspaper articles from 1891 to 1894 August 9;
  • photographs of John Brashear's family, including his mother and father;
  • photographs of prominent citizens of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City (Pittsburgh's "twin city" at that time, where the factory and Allegheny Observatory were actually located, Allegheny City was annexed to Pittsburgh in 1907 and became Pittsburgh's North Side);
  • a piece of glass with the inscription, “One of the first pieces of Optical glass Made in America”;
  • a lock of hair from John Brashear's wife, Phoebe, inside a small envelope so-labeled;
  • a letter from Worcester Reed Warner and Ambrose Swasey, owners of Cleveland telescope manufacturer Warner and Swasey Company, congratulating the Brashear Company on the completion of the new factory building (Brashear and Warner and Swasey collaborated on several projects);
  • a book labeled, “In Memoriam William Thaw.” complete with photographs (John Brashear's mentor who had paid for the land and construction of the factory building, William Thaw had died in 1889);
  • at the bottom of the time capsule box were plans and blueprints for the factory building.

In an electronic mail message distributed over the Antique Telescope Society's mail-group (copied over the History of Astronomy mail-group by John W. Briggs) yesterday, Al Paslow wrote, “Most of the contents of the Time Capsule are in remarkable shape; however some older photographs are faded but many look as good as the day they were left inside.” He has placed many photographs of the time capsule contents on his personal Internet web site (a link to this web site is at the end of this blog post).

The wall collapse had occurred on March 16, with demolition of the rest of the building beginning the next day. When the author of this SpaceWatchtower blog, Glenn A. Walsh, viewed the site on the evening of the Vernal Equinox (March 20, the official beginning of the season of Spring), the majority of the building had been brought-down, with the exception of small portions of the north and south walls. In his March 24 e-mail message, Al Paslow reported that the demolition was completed, and the site has been covered in straw, as of Tuesday afternoon (March 24).

Al Paslow did not mention the disposition of the time capsule and contents in his message. As, at the time of demolition, the Brashear Telescope Factory building was legally owned by the City of Pittsburgh, the time capsule and contents would be the legal property of the City.

Special Thanks: Al Paslow, John W. Briggs, Antique Telescope Society, History of Astronomy Mail-Group.

Photographs of Brashear Telescope Factory Building Time Capsule Contents, from the Al Paslow Astronomy Collection:
Link >>> http://al-paslow.smugmug.com/Other/John-Brashear-Time-Capsule/48206094_Grz6HB#!i=3951044359&k=RCqKLfF

Al Paslow Time Capsule Electronic Mail Message (2015 March 24):
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/timecapsule/brasheartimecapsulee-mail.html

More on John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/

More on the Allegheny Observatory: Link >>> http://www.pitt.edu/~aobsvtry/

John Brashear - Links to Special Resources: Brashear Telescope Factory Building:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/speciallinks/brashearfactory.html

Related Blog Posts ---

Dispute: Ownership of Brashear Time Capsule  (2015 March 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/dispute-ownership-of-brashear-time.html


Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Wall Collapses (2015 March 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/historic-brashear-telescope-factory.html

 

Brashear House & Factory: Nomination to National Register of Historic Places  (2012 Oct. 11): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/nomination-to-national-register-of.html


Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh (2012 Sept. 13): 

Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/09/historic-nomination-john-brashear-house.html


Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication (2012 August 28):

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/centennial-new-allegheny-observatory.html


Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film (2012 April 19) :
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/04/pittsburghs-allegheny-observatory-new.html

 

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Equinox Day Solar Eclipse This Morning

Total solar eclipse
Time of totality during a Total Solar Eclipse or Total Eclipse of the Sun in France in 1999.
(Image Source: Wikipedia.org , Photographer: I, Luc Viatour )


By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Today, Friday, 2015 March 20, marks the beginning of the season of Spring in Earth's Northern Hemisphere. The Vernal Equinox, the moment Spring officially begins, occurs at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 22:45 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

But, the day of the Vernal Equinox in 2015 also includes a Total Solar Eclipse about 12 hours before the Vernal Equinox occurs. This Total Solar Eclipse or Total Eclipse of the Sun occurs in the morning over the North Atlantic Ocean.

A partial phase of this eclipse will be visible in much of Europe, Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, northern and western Asia, northern and western Africa, and part of the Middle East. Several live Internet web-casts of this eclipse will be available for those who do not live in these areas, or if cloudy weather precludes direct viewing of this eclipse.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER look directly at the Sun or a Solar Eclipse with a telescope, binoculars, or any optical device. This would cause PERMANENT BLINDNESS INSTANTLY. Blindness could occur quickly, without any pain, as there are no nerve endings in the eyes. Such damage to the eyes could also happen if you look at the Sun or a Solar Eclipse with the naked-eyes for more than a second or two. Near the end of this blog post is a link which gives tips on a safe way to view a solar eclipse, as well as links to Internet web-casts that would allow you to safely view the solar eclipse on your computer.

Although the New Moon phase occurs during this Solar Eclipse, some consider it a “Super Moon,” as the New Moon occurs about 13.5 hours after a lunar perigee, when the Moon is closest to Earth in its orbit during the month of March. The Moon was at lunar perigee, 357,584 kilometers from Earth, on March 19 at 4:00 p.m. EDT / 20:00 UTC. Due to this lunar perigee New Moon, high-than-normal tides are predicted along ocean coastlines.

And, with the beginning of Spring is the annual Spring festival in America's nation's capital. Washington, DC's National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 through April 12.

Here are the times for this Solar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Sun:

Partial Solar Eclipse begins – Sun enters lunar penumbra:      3:40:52.1 a.m. EDT /  7:40:52.1 UTC
Sun enters lunar umbra:                                                             5:09:33.1 a.m. EDT /  9:09:33.1 UTC
Total Solar Eclipse begins:                                                          5:16:12.7 a.m. EDT /  9:16:12.7 UTC
Moon Phase: New Moon – Lunation # 1141                                5:36 a.m. EDT         /  9:36 UTC
Time of Greatest Total Solar Eclipse:                                          5:45:39.1 a.m. EDT /  9:45:39.1 UTC
Total Solar Eclipse ends:                                                             6:14:42.9 a.m. EDT / 10:14:42.9 UTC
Sun exits lunar umbra:                                                                 6:21:21.7 a.m. EDT / 10:21:21.7 UTC
Partial Solar Eclipse ends – Sun exits lunar penumbra:             7:50:12.4 a.m. EDT / 11:50:12.4 UTC
Vernal Equinox – Spring begins:                                                  6:45 p.m. EDT        /  22:45 UTC

More on March 20 Solar Eclipse:

Live Internet Web-Casts for Safely Viewing Solar Eclipse:

Direct Viewing – Safe Way to View Solar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Sun:

More on a Solar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Sun: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse

More on the season of the Vernal Equinox and the season of Spring:

More on the National Cherry Blossom Festival:

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Wall Collapses



The historic John A. Brashear Factory building, in its hey-day, where telescopes and precise scientific instruments were produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. More recent photograph at end of blog post.
(Image Source: Historic Pittsburgh. Allegheny Observatory Records, 1850-1967)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

A wall, close to Pittsburgh's Perrysville Avenue, of the original factory building used by famous telescope-maker John A. Brashear, in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, collapsed on Monday evening. Consequently for reasons of public safety, the City of Pittsburgh (which at this point in time owned the historic, yet dilapidated structure) found it necessary to demolish the remainder of the building.

Part of a wall of the two-floor and basement factory building collapsed onto a nearby, two-floor apartment building March 16 at about 10:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time / Tuesday at about 2:20 Coordinated Universal Time, necessitating the evacuation of the apartment building. The American Red Cross has provided shelter to occupants of the apartment building, until city inspectors declare the apartment building safe to inhabit. The Brashear Factory building had been vacant for about 20 years.

The Brashear Factory building had been officially condemned by the city in May of 2012, due to facade and structural damage including holes in the roof. It seems the wall collapse was due to the freeze and thaw cycle of late Winter, as well as a roof that was rotted-out.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had been trying to find funding to rehabilitate the historic building, but he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that time had just run-out and the city could not afford the cost. As a City Councilman in 2012, the Mayor had been Executive Producer of a historic documentary, “Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory,” regarding the history of the Allegheny Observatory and John Brashear. The author, Glenn A. Walsh, served as a historical consultant for this documentary.

The North Side Pittsburgh building was the headquarters of the John A. Brashear Company, which specialized in high quality lenses and mirrors for telescopes and other optical devices. Later in the twentieth century, this company which produced high-quality telescopes, spectrascopes, and other high-precision scientific instruments was known as the J.W. Fecker Company, which moved out of the factory building in 1954.

Optics manufactured by the John A. Brashear Company were used in the famous Michelson-Morley physics experiment in 1887, for precisely calculating the speed of light, which eventually led to Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity in 1905.

Finished in May of 1886, the Brashear Factory building was accompanied by construction of a new home for John Brashear and his family, next-door. The former Brashear home is in good condition and is currently being used as a half-way house for men with chemical dependencies.

John A. Brashear was a self-taught scientist, whose craftsmanship made the telescopes and scientific instruments he produced second-to-none in quality, in his era. His telescopes and scientific devices were sold throughout the world and were in very high demand.

For a time John Brashear was Acting Director of the Allegheny Observatory, and later for a time, Acting Chancellor of the Western University of Pennsylvania (today known as the University of Pittsburgh); in both cases, he refused permanent appointment to those positions. He was one of three Pittsburgh civic leaders to be instrumental in the design of Andrew Carnegie's Carnegie Technical Schools (today known as Carnegie Mellon University). And, he single-handedly raised the money, in one Summer, needed to build the new and much larger Allegheny Observatory building dedicated in 1912.

John Brashear died at age 79 in 1920. His ashes along with those of his wife, as well as the ashes of another former Allegheny Observatory Director, James E. Keeler, and his wife and son, are interred in a crypt in the basement of Allegheny Observatory.

The cost of the land, buildings, and factory machinery of the Brashear House and Factory on the North Side was funded by Pittsburgh philanthropist William Thaw, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and a trustee of the Western University of Pennsylvania (today known as the University of Pittsburgh). Mr. Thaw leased the land, buildings, and factory machinery to John Brashear, free-of-charge!

This lease was only terminated by John Brashear's death in 1920. William Thaw admired John Brashear, and Allegheny Observatory Director Samuel Pierpont Langley (in 1887, Professor Langley was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, then considered the greatest scientific appointment in America), and considered the money he provided to both as his donation to important scientific research.

John Brashear's original home and shop, both much smaller than the new buildings, had been located on Pittsburgh's South Side Slopes (located on the south side of the Monongahela River), above the mill where John Brashear had previously been employed before deciding to start his own telescope-making business. His new home and factory were located on the original Observatory Hill on the North Side (across the Allegheny River from Downtown Pittsburgh, and just up the hill from the site of what would become Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in 1939), only about a block from the original Allegheny Observatory. Mr. Thaw had, wisely, decided to locate John Brashear close to Professor Langley's research facility (the Allegheny Observatory had been donated to the Western University of Pennsylvania in May of 1867).

The Brashear House and Factory buildings, on Pittsburgh's North Side, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 2012 December 26, after a campaign waged for such designation by Pittsburgh-area historic preservationists including the author, Glenn A. Walsh.

Last year, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh had placed the Brashear Factory building on its annual list of the Top Ten Preservation Opportunities for 2014. The list is an annual effort, by the preservation group, to promote the restoration and reuse of historic properties.

In 1890, the main campus of the Western University of Pennsylvania relocated, from Downtown, to a site between the original Allegheny Observatory and the Brashear Factory building. However, this hilltop location had limited space for expansion, so in 1909 the University campus moved again to the Oakland section of the city, about three miles east of Downtown. By an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the Summer of 1908, the name was changed from the Western University of Pennsylvania to the University of Pittsburgh.

Oakland, where the main University campus remains today, became the city's civic, educational, and medical center district. It is where Andrew Carnegie had constructed his museums and main library (Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art, and the Main Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh) in 1895, and the Carnegie Technical Schools (today known as Carnegie Mellon University) in 1900. Andrew Carnegie's colleague, Henry Phipps, had establshed the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens here in1893. Schenley Park, one of the city's four large parks, opened in Oakland in 1889.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Military Museum opened in Oakand in 1910. The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania established a small museum and historical library in the Oakland neighborhood in 1914 (these were moved to a much larger building, Downtown, in 1996). Mount Mercy College (today's Carlow University) was added to the Civic Center district in 1929. And in addition to being the home to several major hospitals, even the Pittsburgh Pirates called Oakand home, at Forbes Field, from 1909 to 1970!

The loss of the Brashear Factory building is only the latest loss of historic structures related to historic Pittsburgh astronomy. The original Allegheny Observatory building, built in 1860 near the Brashear Factory building site, was demolished in the 1950s. Replaced by a much larger, three-dome, Allegheny Observatory building two miles further north in Riverview Park in 1912, the original Allegheny Observatory building had been used as an orphanage before demolition.

In the late 1990s, we lost the private astronomical observatory of Leo Scanlon, Co-Founder of the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh and strong advocate for the establishment of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Built in 1930 next to Mr. Scanlon's home in the Summer Hill section of Pittsburgh's North Side, this observatory included the world's first all-aluminum astronomical observatory dome. Mr. Scanlon's observatory proved that aluminum was a strong enough material to hold-up such a dome. While the observatory had to be razed in the late 1990s, when Mr. Scanlon moved to a nursing home (he died in 1999 at the age of 96), the historic all-aluminum dome was preserved. In 2013, the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh donated this historic dome to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to be displayed at the Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County.

In 2002, the historic mid-1880s home of Pittsburgh philanthropist Henry Buhl, Jr. (whose Buhl Foundation built Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in 1939) was destroyed by a fire started when a kerosene heater ignited items in the house. The 3 1/2-story brick North Side home, which was vacant at the time, may have been occupied by homeless individuals who accidentally started the blaze.

The historic 1805 homestead of Henry Buhl, Jr.'s father, Christian Buhl, located in the north suburban Pittsburgh borough of Zelienople, is now a house museum operated by the Zelienople Historical Society.

The bequest of Henry Buhl, Jr. created the Buhl Foundation in 1927, which constructed America's fifth major planetarium in 1939. Henry Buhl, Jr. had owned the Boggs and Buhl Department Store, which operated from 1869 to 1958, one block south of the site where Buhl Planetarium was constructed. In 2012, Allegheny Square (originally, the town square of the former Allegheny City, until annexed to Pittsburgh in 1907) was rehabilitated and rededicated as Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square, directly between the original Buhl Planetarium building and the site of the former Boggs and Buhl Department Store.

Originally owned by Mr. Buhl and his brother-in-law Russell H. Boggs, until Mr. Boggs' death in 1922, the North Side retail establishment catered to many wealthy clients, including several industrialists who lived less than a mile away on Ridge Avenue. Some of the former Ridge Avenue mansions are now used as classroom buildings for the main campus of the Community College of Allegheny County.

The historic 1888 mansion of Mr. Boggs, designed by famous architect H.H. Richardson (who designed the Allegheny County Courthouse, which was also completed in 1888), is now used as a bed-and-breakfast hotel. Now known as the Inn on the Mexican War Streets, located in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood of Pittsburgh's North Side (homes in this neighborhood were built shortly after the Mexican War, 1846 to 1848), the mansion sits on West North Avenue, just across the street from the large Allegheny Commons West Park.

Below is a photograph of the historic Brashear Factory building in recent years, before the wall collapse that led to demolition this week. A photograph of the building in its hey-day is located at the beginning of this blog post.
(Image Source: Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh)

http://www.youngpreservationists.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Brashear.jpg

More on John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/

More on the Allegheny Observatory: Link >>> http://www.pitt.edu/~aobsvtry/

John Brashear - Links to Special Resources: Brashear Telescope Factory Building:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/speciallinks/brashearfactory.html

Related Blog Posts ---

Dispute: Ownership of Brashear Time Capsule  (2015 March 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/dispute-ownership-of-brashear-time.html


Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule Found & Opened  (2015 March 25):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/brashear-telescope-factory-time-capsule.html

 

Brashear House & Factory: Nomination to National Register of Historic Places  (2012 Oct. 11):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/nomination-to-national-register-of.html


Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh (2012 Sept. 13):

Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/09/historic-nomination-john-brashear-house.html


Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication (2012 August 28): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/centennial-new-allegheny-observatory.html

 

Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film (2012 April 19) :
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/04/pittsburghs-allegheny-observatory-new.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, March 16, 2015

Life in Sub-Surface Oceans of Moons of Saturn, Jupiter?

Cutaway view of Saturn's moon Enceladus
This cutaway view of Saturn's moon Enceladus is an artist's rendering that depicts possible hydrothermal activity that may be taking place on and under the seafloor of the moon's subsurface ocean, based on recently published results from NASA's Cassini mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Spacecraft Data Suggest Saturn Moon's Ocean May Harbor Hydrothermal Activity

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first clear evidence that Saturn’s moon Enceladus exhibits signs of present-day hydrothermal activity which may resemble that seen in the deep oceans on Earth. The implications of such activity on a world other than our planet open up unprecedented scientific possibilities.

“These findings add to the possibility that Enceladus, which contains a subsurface ocean and displays remarkable geologic activity, could contain environments suitable for living organisms,” said John Grunsfeld astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The locations in our solar system where extreme environments occur in which life might exist may bring us closer to answering the question: are we alone in the Universe.”

More - Link >>> http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/spacecraft-data-suggest-saturn-moons-ocean-may-harbor-hydrothermal-activity/

Source: NASA.

NASA’s Hubble Observations Suggest Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth's surface.

Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search of life as we know it.

“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”

More - Link >>> http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/nasa-s-hubble-observations-suggest-underground-ocean-on-jupiters-largest-moon/

Source: NASA.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sat. Morning: 'Pi Moment of the Century!'


(Image Source: TimeBlimp.com)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The mathematical constant Pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, is celebrated each March 14: 3.14. Pi is an irrational number which cannot be expressed as a common fraction, and it has a decimal representation that never repeats and never ends.

However, this year (2015), allows a unique moment, which only occurs once each century, to further consider Pi.

Over the last century, people have gotten used to describing dates completely by Arabic numerals. And, with this numeric date convention, certain dates have been given special significance due to the “coincidence” of the digits, such as 6-6-66.

Of course, 6-6-66 is understood to mean June 6, 1966, the first such, “significant,” numeric date abbreviation I learned in elementary school. Of course, this was before Y2K when years were described in two digits. Although many more people today do use a four-digit year when writing a numeric date, regrettably some people continue to use a two-digit year despite the computer problems, and consequent conversion expense, this led to just prior to the year 2000.

While 6-6-66 uses the traditional date convention (June 6, 1966), it could also designate the European date convention (6 June 1966). However, it would have to be written 66-6-6 to be expressed in scientific date notation (although, particularly today, scientific date notation would usually use a four-digit year).

Actual dates are not the only things described as numeric dates. Beginning in 1988 at the Exporatorium science museum in San Francisco, the first three numeral digits of Pi have been used as a date, 3.14 (March 14), for an annual celebration of the mathematical constant: Pi Day.

But, only once in a century is there a “Pi Moment.” This is the one date and time, in 100 years, that can be described by the first ten digits of Pi:

            3.141592653 --- March 14, 2015, Saturday Morning at 9:26:53 Local Time
                       (traditional date convention using a two-digit year)

And, for those who wish to be even more precise, after the first ten digits of Pi, the remainder of Pi can be expressed as a decimal of the 53rd second. 

For students (grades 4 through 11) to celebrate “Super Pi Day” or “Pi Day of the Century,” the Education Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has crafted a math challenge to show students of all ages how NASA scientists and engineers use the mathematical constant Pi. These four real-world math problems, which teachers can access as a web infographic and printable handouts, include:

  1. Calcuating the number of times a Mars rover's wheels have rotated in 11 years.
  2. Determining the number of images needed for the Dawn spacecraft to map the entire surface of the dwarf planet Ceres (the first dwarf planet to be explored).
  3. Determining the potential volume of water on Jupiter's moon Europa.
  4. Discovering what fraction of a radio beam from our most distant spacecraft reaches Earth.

More on the NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory student math challenge for “Super Pi Day,” with instructions on how to download the problems and view the activity details, including the addressing of Common Core standards:

And, if that is not enough for a celebration, March 14 also happens to be the 136th birthday of Albert Einstein !

More on Pi Day: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi_Day

More on Pi: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi

More on Albert Einstein: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Citizen Science: International Space Apps Challenge

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/15-026.png
Image Source: NASA.

NASA and other space agencies around the world are preparing for the fourth annual
International Space Apps Challenge, which will be held April 10-12 at more than 135 locations worldwide, including New York, host of the event’s Global Mainstage.

During this three-day code-a-thon, participants are asked to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

“These challenges provide opportunities for US and global citizen scientists, engineers, and students to interact and contribute  to space exploration through code development, data analytics innovation,  open source software and hardware,” said Deborah Diaz, agency chief technology officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

This year’s challenge will include the first ever Data Bootcamp, with a focus on Women in Data. The bootcamp is open to the public and will give participants the opportunity to improve their skills with computer coding and data. The April 10 bootcamp will stream live online from the Global Mainstage. Astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan will be on hand at the New York event to work with STEM students and also will be available for media interviews.

More than 200 data sources, including data sets, services and tools will be available for this challenge. This event brings together techy-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and students to help solve problems and questions relevant to space exploration and broader subjects that impact life on Earth.

This year, 35 challenges represent NASA mission priorities in four areas: Earth studies, space exploration, human health research and robotics. Many of the challenges are in the Earth theme, supporting NASA’s missions to monitor Earth's vital signs from land, air, and space.

A full list of challenges can be viewed at:


Follow the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #spaceapps.

For information about NASA's programs and missions, visit: Link >>> http://www.nasa.gov


-end-
Karen Northon
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1540
karen.northon@nasa.gov

Source: NASA.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >