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Zeiss Collectible Lenses

Collect a treasure from Morehead Panetarium

In 2011, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center retired its famous Carl Zeiss Model VI star projector after 42 years of service. Technicians removed 166 individual lenses from the Morehead Zeiss.

These collectible lenses are now available to you through a one-of-a-kind gift program that will strengthen science education for North Carolina schoolchildren. Through your gift to Morehead, you become eligible to receive one of these beautiful lenses to treasure and to keep as a family heirloom. Your gift will help Morehead develop and deliver engaging fulldome planetarium shows to inspire new generations of scientists.

Unique Collectible Lenses

Each optical-grade glass lens has been fitted into a commemorative display, designed by a North Carolina artisan and crafted from turned stainless steel, brushed aluminum and polished acrylic. Each bears its own individual production number as a limited edition collectible.

The collection includes clear lenses, which are available in large and medium sizes, and illuminated lenses, which are available in medium sizes. Illuminated lenses contain images that were projected onto the planetarium dome during planetarium shows or NASA training activities. These images may include any of these:

  • lines, numbers or words (representing ecliptic, celestial equator, meridian or coordinate circle measurement),
  • illustrations representing individual constellations, or
  • constellation groupings.

To highlight the image, each illuminated lens is lit from behind the lens by a specially-designed lighting system, featuring a 12-volt LED cluster and a four-foot power cord. Each illuminated lens has a unique image; no two are alike. Please allow Morehead to select one of these beautiful and historic illuminated lenses for you.

The Zeiss Model VI Legacy

Only a few weeks after Morehead installed its Zeiss Model VI, a group of nine NASA astronauts -- including Apollo 11 crew members Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins -- arrived at Morehead to study celestial navigation. They used the Zeiss to study how the star field would appear during their space flights.

Five months later, Apollo 11 crew members traveled into space and became the first humans to walk on the Moon. Their accomplishment is one of many highlights for Morehead's astronaut training program, which used the Zeiss Model VI and its predecessor (the Zeiss Model II) to train 62 NASA astronauts.

Eligibility and Donor Guidelines

Eligibility to receive a Morehead Zeiss collectible lens is available only through this offer. Other gifts to Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, including membership enrollments and annual fund gifts, do not apply toward eligibility.

You may make a gift through this special program through a single payment or through a pledge with installments over three years. If you choose to pledge your gift, your first pledge payment is due immediately and you become eligible to receive a Morehead Zeiss collectible lens after the complete payment of your pledge.

The opportunity to receive a Morehead Zeiss collectible lens is provided in accordance with the recent IRS revision of the Revenue Code. Because the fair market value of any Morehead Zeiss collectible lens is greater than two percent of the gift required to receive it, the gift is not fully deductible.