California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration
150th Anniversary Celebration 150 Years: A Timeline 150 Years of Research The New Academy
Morrison Planetarium staff under the dome.

Morrison Planetarium opens to become the seventh major planetarium in the U.S. Its first Director is George Bunton, formerly with the Griffith Observatory.

Capt. Robert D. Risser, U.S.N. (Ret.), former Director of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium in Oklahoma City, comes to Morrison Planetarium. He introduces the first planetarium concerts.

Lee Simon, a research astronomer at Northwestern University, comes to Morrison from Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. He initiates the first curriculum-based school shows and upgrades the theater using income from Laserium shows.

Steven B. Craig, a staff member since 1960, is appointed Chair of Morrison Planetarium and implements automation of the 31 year-old star projector.

The Hume Observatory is built at Pepperwood, the Academy’s nature preserve in Sonoma County. Trustee William J. Hume’s interest in the 1986 return of Halley’s Comet helps fund the Observatory.

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Morrison Planetarium | Presenting the Universe

Stars Over San Francisco
Morrison Planetarium’s 65-foot dome is a great place to learn about the night sky. Original “star-shows” are produced in-house with special effects created by dedicated planetarium technicians. Planetarium educators and lecturers help visitors explore up-to-the-minute astronomy.

Astronomical Amounts of Data
Figuring out “which stars go where” fell to Staff Astronomer Leon E. Salanave, who developed a computer program to plot star placement. A catalog of IBM computer cards for the 33,342 brightest stars was purchased. Using magnitude 5.79 for the dimmest star, 3,800 stars were selected. Those 3,800 IBM star cards were sorted into 32 starfields that make up the entire projected sky.
Star Formation
It took Frances “Rete” Greeby six months to place 3800 grains of carborundum (a sand-like abrasive) on the flat surfaces of 32 condenser lenses, using a custom built, traversing microscope. When completed, a layer of vaporized aluminum was deposited, giving each flat surface an opaque, mirrored finish. The carborundum was then carefully brushed off, leaving tiny holes through which light could shine. The irregular shape of each carborundum grain produced irregular star images for a realistic night sky.

Hume Observatory Telescope
The 6.4” refracting telescope won an award at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition prior to purchase by Academy President George Davidson. The lens, by Alvan Clarke, is in original condition.


150th Anniversary Celebration | 150 Years: A Timeline | 150 Years of Research | The New Academy

©2003 California Academy of Sciences


California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration