2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

Upcoming Event:

DEC. 4 – PUBLIC VIEWING, VIA WEB-CAST, OF 1st NASA TEST LAUNCH
OF NEW ORION DEEP-SPACE VEHICLE AT MT. LEBANON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Astronomer, Educator, and Optician
John A. Brashear
History Cover Page

John A Brashear (1840 - 1920)

Portrait of Astronomer and
Optician John A. Brashear

From the position of a millwright in a steel mill on Pittsburgh's South Side, with little formal education, John A. Brashear became one of the most successful producers of telescopes and precision scientific instruments in the world. Brashear telescopes are still in use, worldwide, including two in public observatories in the Pittsburgh area: 11-inch Brashear Refractor at the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory, operated by the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh[originally commissioned by Andrew Carnegie, so students in his Carnegie Technical Schools(now, Carnegie-Mellon University) could see Halley's Comet in 1910], and 4-inch Brashear Refractor at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory of The Carnegie Science Center[originally, donated to The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in 1972].

John Brashear served as Acting Director of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory(then located on the campus of the Western University of Pennsylvania on Old Observatory Hill in Allegheny City, Pa., prior to the University's planned move to the Oakland section of Pittsburgh; with annexation to the City of Pittsburgh in 1907, Allegheny City became Pittsburgh's North Side) and, almost singlehandedly, raised the funds to build the three-dome Observatory building which exists today. He was also Acting Chancellor of the Western University of Pennsylvania(now, the University of Pittsburgh) and served on the Board of Directors of Carnegie Institute and the Carnegie Technical Schools(now Carnegie-Mellon University). He associated with many of Pittsburgh's captains of industry including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, George Westinghouse, William Thaw, and Henry Phipps.

With his love of people, particularly children, most Pittsburghers knew him as "Uncle John." The cremated remains of John Brashear, and his wife Phoebe, lie in a special crypt below the base of one of the telescopes Brashear's company produced for the Allegheny Observatory. From the poem, "The Old Astronomer to His Pupil," by Sarah Williams, which both Brashears loved, the epitaph on their spaces read:

"We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."


Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < unclejohn@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
Twitter Page: SpaceWatchtower *** Facebook Page: SpaceWatchtower

Biographies

Other Histories Related
to John Brashear

John Brashear
Photo Album

News Articles About
John Brashear

Telescopes & Optics Built
by J.A. Brashear Company

Related Links

SpaceWatchtower Blog

NEWS: Planetarium, Astronomy,
Space, Other Sciences

Ask Questions About
Astronomy or Other Sciences

Master Index for History of
Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh

See an Unexplained Object in the Sky? Have a Question About Astronomy or Other Sciences?
Ask an Expert from Friends of the Zeiss!


Biographies

John A. Brashear

Autobiography
(Full text - in its entirety)

Biographical Fact Sheet & Brief Biography *** Capsule Biography *** Short Biography Photo Album

Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2009 March 5: A3.
(Reprint of 2006 Oct. 18 article)
Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2006 Oct. 18: A3.
(Donna Howell, Technology Reporter, Investor's Business Daily)
Friends of the Zeiss Project Director Glenn A. Walsh is extensively
quoted in this national business newspaper article, regarding the life of
famous 19th century astronomer and lens maker John A. Brashear,
who was a confidant of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.

Colleagues of John A. Brashear

Scientists: Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley *** Professor James E. Keeler

Philanthropists & Industrialists:
Andrew Carengie *** Henry Clay Frick *** Charles M. Schwab *** Henry Phipps *** George Westinghouse


Other Histories Related to John Brashear

Walsh, Glenn A. "Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Sept. 13.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie were good friends of John Brashear.
John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Aug. 28.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie made large contributions toward the construction of the new Allegheny Observatory.
Also, John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Brashear, John A. "A Practical Method of Working Rock Salt Surfaces for Optical Purposes."
The Sidereal Messenger 5.5 (1886): 149-151.

Brashear, JA. Letter from John A. Brashear to Professor Mendenhall 1885 June 8.

Text of letter supplied to History of John A. Brashear Web Site on 2009 July 3 by Allen Heasley of Boardman, Ohio. Mr. Heasley has had possession of letter for 60 years, provided to him by an elder member of The Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society (Ohio). Mr. Heasley indicated that both the letter and envelope are in very good condition.

John Brashear Accompanies Andrew Carnegie
to Dedication of Andrew Carnegie Free Library

John Brashear and the Historic 11-inch Refractor Telescope

11-inch Brashear Refractor at the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory

Crater on Planet Mars Named for John Brashear

"The Old Astronomer to His Pupil," poem by Sarah Williams
loved by John and Phoebe Brashear;
inspiration for the Brashears' epitaph:
"We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

Friends of the Phoebe
The Phoebe, John Brashear's boat used on Lake Muskoka in Canada.

Wevers, Henk. "The Restoration of the Historic Steam Launch Phoebe."
Magazine of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, Toronto Chapter 2002 March.
Henk Wevers, P.Eng.: Coordinator Phoebe Restoration Group, Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.


News Articles About John A. Brashear

Conte, Andrew. "Under Observation." Audio Segment (10 minutes).
"Essential Pittsburgh." Weekday Magazine Radio Program.
WESA-FM 90.5 Pittsburgh 2014 Aug. 28.
Guest host Andy Conte, of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review takes his microphone on a tour of Pittsburgh's historic Allegheny Observatory, with the Observatory's Administrator Lou Coban, broadcast on the 102nd anniversary of the new Allegheny Observatory building.

Schmitt, Ben. "The awe of night."
Pittsburgh Quarterly 2014 Fall.
Magazine article on the history of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory.
Photos by David Aschkenas; also see slide show of 18 Allegheny Observatory photographs.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Brashear House & Factory: Nomination to National Register of Historic Places ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Oct. 11.
Comments of Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss, in support of nomination.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie were good friends of John Brashear.
John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Kopke, Megan. "Historic status sought for Brashear's home and factory in Perry Hilltop."
The Northside Chronicle 2012 October 4.

Bauder, Bob. "Historical status sought for Brashear's North Side home, factory."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Sept. 23.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Sept. 13.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie were good friends of John Brashear.
John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Aug. 28.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie made large contributions toward the construction of the new Allegheny Observatory.
Also, John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Mystery: Brashear Telescope Donated by Frick to Pittsburgh Suburb Missing for Decades." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 May 7.
John Brashear telescope donated to Mount Pleasant PA, by industrialist Henry Clay Frick (then an executive with the
Carnegie Steel Company), has been missing for decades after being removed for restoration.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 April 19.
New film documentary regarding the largest astronomical observatory located within the city limits of a major American city. Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie helped John Brashear construct the new Allegheny Observatory building. Samuel Pierpont Langley, James E. Keeler, and John Brashear were Directors of the original Allegheny Observatory.

Chute, Eleanor. "Brashear physics teacher earns Milken award."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2011 Oct. 5.

Mackin, Mike. "Let's Learn From the Past: John Brashear." Column.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2010 June 17.

Young, Chris. "Down the Test Tubes."
Pittsburgh City Paper 2010 April 21, 22.
Students in five high schools in the Pittsburgh School District scored very poor in the 2009 State assessment test for science, including two high schools named for prominent Pittsburgh scientists of the past: Westinghouse High School (George Westinghouse) and Brashear High School (John Brashear).

Chute, Eleanor. "Magazine cites more than a dozen top high schools in W. Pa."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette On-Line 2009 Dec. 10.
Includes Pittsburgh's Brashear High School.

Nelson Jones, Diana. "Afoot in a place of consequence." Blog: City Walkabout.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette On-Line 2009 Aug. 7.
Regarding fundraising effort to preserve and restore historic North Side home and factory of John A. Brashear.

Miles, Lisa A. Fundraising Letter: Historic North Side Home and Factory of John Brashear 2009 March 11.

Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2009 March 5: A3.
(Reprint of 2006 Oct. 18 article)
Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2006 Oct. 18: A3.
(Donna Howell, Technology Reporter, Investor's Business Daily)
Friends of the Zeiss Project Director Glenn A. Walsh is extensively
quoted in this national business newspaper article, regarding the life of
famous 19th century astronomer and lens maker John A. Brashear,
who was a confidant of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.

Lowry, Patricia. "Places: Bring an open mind to open house at the Brashears' Perry Hilltop home."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2008 Nov. 28.
Also talks about home's proximity to the original Allegheny Observatory run by S.P. Langley, and where Professor Langley did early experiments in heavier-than-air flight.

"Where to go ... Riverview Park."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2008 Nov. 23.
Brief history of Riverview Park, which was donted to the City of Allegheny in 1894. During the process to have this land donated as a public park, John Brashear had land set-aside in the park for construction of a new Allegheny Observatory, two miles north of the then-existing Allegheny Observatory, a site which would be further away from the industrial air emmisions of that era.

Nelson Jones, Diana. "Grant could unlock history of Allegheny."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2008 Oct. 8.

Boren, Jeremy. "Historian focuses on telescope pioneer Brashear."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2008 Sept. 29.
Also reprinted --
Boren, Jeremy. "Historian Focuses on Telescope Pioneer Brashear."
Sky and Telescope Magazine On-Line 2008 Sept. 29.

Heinrichs, Allison M. "City's parks offer urban relief."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2008 Sept. 21.
Highlights, with photos, Frick Park, Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park, and Carnegie Lake in Schenley Park.

Boren, Jeremy. "Pittsburgh filmmaker focuses on observatory."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2008 Aug. 19.
Film on history of Allegheny Observatory. John A. Brashear was Acting Director of Allegheny Observatory, in addition to providing new Allegheny Observatory with two telescopes and other scientific apparatus.
Internet web site for Allegheny Observatory movie: < http://www.aothemovie.com >.

Smydo, Joe. "Wife finally laid to rest near husband."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2007 April 15. The remains of Cora Matthews Keeler, wife of famous astronomer James E. Keeler, were transferred to a crypt at Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory which holds the cremated remains of James Keeler and also those of famous astronomer and lensmaker John A. Brashear.

Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2006 Oct. 18: A3.
Howell, Donna. "John Brashear Kept His Goals In Sharp Focus."
Investor's Business Daily 2009 March 5: A3.
(Reprint of 2006 Oct. 18 article)
(Donna Howell, Technology Reporter, Investor's Business Daily)
Friends of the Zeiss Project Director Glenn A. Walsh is extensively
quoted in this national business newspaper article, regarding the life of
famous 19th century astronomer and lens maker John A. Brashear,
who was a confidant of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.

Wevers, Henk. "The Restoration of the Historic Steam Launch Phoebe."
Magazine of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, Toronto Chapter 2002 March.
Henk Wevers, P.Eng.: Coordinator Phoebe Restoration Group, Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.

Potter, Chris. You Had to Ask:
The Naming of Asteroids in Honor of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City Actually Honors John Brashear.
Pittsburgh City Paper 1999 June 9.

Spice, Byron. Pittsburgh "Astronomer is Saluted as an Asteroid is Named for Him."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1996 Feb.

Carlin, Karen. "Astronomical: 1908 Brashear Telescope Aimed at the Stars Again."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1995 Oct. 22

Obituary: "Dr. J.A. Brashear Dead Following Long Sickness."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1920 April 8.

Brewster, Edwin Tenney. "John A. Brashear of Pittsburgh
Whose Instruments of Precision Have Made Possible Many Important Discoveries in Physics and Astronomy."

McClure's Magazine 1911 April.

Keeler, J. E. "Note on Repolishing Surfaces of Rock-Salt."
The Sidereal Messenger 5.7 (1886): 222-223.

Brashear, John A. "A Practical Method of Working Rock Salt Surfaces for Optical Purposes."
The Sidereal Messenger 5.5 (1886): 149-151.


Telescopes Manufactured By, Or Telescopes Using Optics Manufactured By
The John A. Brashear Company and Succeeding Firms

* 4-inch Brashear Refractor Telescope [built circa 1900 for Dr. David D. Kennedy--37th telescope (serial number 37) built by John Brashear] donated to Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science on 1972 October 16 by Mr. J.K. Foster. Donated with the telescope were four eyepieces, one eyepiece cover, tripod, and counter balance; all elements were in excellent condition at the time of donation, except minor repairs required for the tracking arm. Following display at the third annual Amateur Astronomers' Association Show which ran from 1972 October 22 through November 19 (attended by 12,395 people), the telescope was temporarily placed in storage. This telescope was displayed for many years in the Buhl Planetarium Library, until Buhl Planetarium closed as a public museum on 1991 August 31. The telescope is now stored at The Carnegie Science Center. --
Photo 1 *** Photo 2
More information: Link 1 *** Link 2 *** Link 3 *** Link 4 *** Link 5

* 6-inch Brashear Refractor Telescope - Built for the School District of Pittsburgh around 1901 and installed in a new observatory atop the Sterrett Elementary School in the city's Point Breeze neighborhood in 1902 or 1903. This observatory was dismantled around the 1950s; the fate of this telescope is unknown. More information.

* 11-inch Brashear Refractor Telescope, commissioned by Andrew Carnegie for the students of the Carnegie Technical Schools/Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to view Halley's Comet in 1910. Now operated for public star parties at the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, by the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh. More info.

* The Ralph Mueller Observatory of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History - 10 1/2-inch refracting telescope built by the Warner & Swasey Co. of Cleveland in 1899. The renowned J.A. Brashear Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ground the telescope’s optics.

* Irving Porter Church Telescope (12-inch refractor telescope) at the Fuertes Observatory of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The Fuertes Observatory was built in 1917, while the lenses for the 12-inch refractor were commissioned in 1919 and delivered to Cornell University in 1920, the year of Dr. Brashear's death. The mounting and telescope body were produced by the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland; there are several casses of Brashear optics being commissioned for Warner and Swasey telescopes. More information:
** Cornell University: Fuertes Observatory *** Observatory History
** Cornell Astronomical Society: Fuertes Observatory *** Photo Tour

* Bunyan Observatory Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum in Berthoud, Colorado (45 miles north of Denver) use s a Brashear 140mm (51/2-inch) multi-element refractor telescope mounted in a bras tube. Public observing with this telescope is free-of-charge on the third Friday of every month (weather-permitting).

* In an electronic mail message to the author on 2010 August 5, Marc Kendis of Palo Cedro California stated that he owns a 4-inch Brashear refractor telescope (serial number 14), which includes two objective lenses, unpolished brass tube with spotting scope and premordial sun filter, and two eye pieces and a 90" angle prism for the lenses, "all in great shape." He has owned this telescope for 20 years; the telescope was previously in San Francisco. Engraved on a rectangular brass plate mounted by two screws at the forward end of the large brass barrel of the main telescope:

J. A. BRASHEAR
ALLEGHENY PA.
--14--

Brashear, John A. "A Practical Method of Working Rock Salt Surfaces for Optical Purposes."
The Sidereal Messenger 5.5 (1886): 149-151.


Related Links

Allegheny Observatory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Walsh, Glenn A. "Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication ." Blog Posting.
SpaceWatchtower 2012 Aug. 28.
Both Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie made large contributions toward the construction of the new Allegheny Observatory.
Also, John Brashear accompanied Andrew Carnegie to the dedication of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall,
in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, on 1902 April 22.

Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory of The Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago, Illinois

Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory, Russelton, Pennsylvania, of the
Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh<.a> -

Deer Lakes Regional Park of the County of Allegheny, Russelton, Pennsylvania
(home of the Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory)

Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Brashear Association, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

L-3 Brashear, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(formerly Contraves Brashear Systems, L.P.)
Current successor to John Brashear's optical company L-3 Brashear prepared the mirror of the 8.2-meter flagship telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the Subaru Telescope, which started astronomical research in January of 1999 on Mauna Kea in Hawaii:

Link 1 *** Link 2

Brashear High School of the School District of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

John A. Brashear Lodge No. 743
Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
John Brashear was instrumental in establishment of, what originally was called, the Carnegie Technical Schools.
(formerly the Carnegie Technical Schools and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and
also the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research)

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
John Brashear served as Acting Chancellor of, what originally was called, the Western University of Pennsylvania.
(formerly the Pittsburgh Academy and the Western University of Pennsylvania)


Other History Links

History of the Allegheny Observatory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
America's Fifth Major Planetarium

\Allegheny City Society, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Preserving the history of Allegheny City and Pittsburgh's North Side

Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Operated by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

History of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library Civil War Museum:
The Captain Thomas Espy Post #153, Grand Army of the Republic
,
Carnegie, Pennsylvania

History Cover Page for The Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Astronomer, Educator, and Optician
John A. Brashear History Cover Page
John A Brashear (1840 - 1920)

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < unclejohn@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
This Internet Web Page: < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
Twitter Page: SpaceWatchtower *** Facebook Page: SpaceWatchtower

NEWS: Planetarium, Astronomy,
Space, Other Sciences

Ask Questions About
Astronomy or Other Sciences

Master Index for History of
Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh



Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web page is not affiliated with the Brashear Association, Inc., L3 Brashear,
Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory,
The Carnegie Science Center, or The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute.

This Internet, World Wide Web Site, created June 26, 1999, administered by Glenn A. Walsh.
© Copyright 1999-2006, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
Additions and corrections to: unclejohn@planetarium.cc

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