Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film

Wednesday evening, several hundred people gathered at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh's Strip District for the premiere of Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory, a new documentary on the history of the largest astronomical observatory within the city limits of a major American city. Speakers at this invitation-only showing included the Filmmaker, Dan Handley, Ph.D., Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto who served as the film's Executive Producer, Tom Crouch, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich.

The documentary provides a fascinating history of how the Allegheny Observatory, which began observations at the original location on 1861 November 27 with very limited funding, became a leader in astronomical research and actually pioneered the new scientific field of astrophysics. The film also highlights the three scientists who brought prominence to the facility: Samuel Pierpont Langley, John Brashear, and James E. Keeler. The hour-long film includes interviews with Arthur Glaser (Observatory Historian), Nancy Robinson (retired Observatory Business Manager), and retired Observatory Director George Gatewood.

In addition to the author of this blog, Glenn A. Walsh, attendees included Arthur Glaser, Nancy Robinson, Eric G. Canali (former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium), Francis G. Graham (Professor Emeritus of Physics, Kent State University), David Tessitor (Founder of the Pittsburgh Free-Net), John McCarter (retired Pittsburgh Schools teacher), Bart Fried (President of the Antique Telescope Society), and Mark Fatla (Executive Director of the North Side Leadership Conference).

Plans for future showings of the film are not yet confirmed, but there are plans to sell the motion picture as a DVD and in Blu-ray format on the movie web site and at the Heinz History Center gift shop, probably by next month. The film, as well as science and history educational materials related to the film, will be made available to Pennsylvania school students at the History Center and through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, thanks to foundation funding.

You can learn more about the film at the official film web site

News article on film, in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:


News article on film, in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:


More information on --

Allegheny Observatory:

John Brashear:

Samuel Pierpont Langley:

James E. Keeler:


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < >
Electronic Mail - < >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
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* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
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* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
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* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
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* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
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* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
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* Public Transit:
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