The Stars Club Korkosz Award
For forty years, Frank Korkosz' planetarium shows brought the night sky to generations of Western Massachusetts school children. He was also a good friend to area amateur astronomers. He helped established the strong tradition of cooperation between the Stars Club and the Springfield Science Museum.
Frank Korkosz was born in Clarence, Pennsylvania in 1903. Halley's Comet's 1910 appearance left him with a lifelong interest in the night sky. Two years later, Korkosz used an empty dynamite box, a carbide lamp, and a lens to create a comet projector. He charged neighborhood kids a penny apiece for his comet shows.
The Korkosz family later moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts. In 1930 Frank went to work for the nearby Springfield Museum of Natural History as a technician. He demonstrated his mechanical abilities by constructing a large fresh water aquarium and other museum exhibits. In 1934, Frank (and his talented brother John) began work on the first optical projection planetarium built in the United States. (The Rosicrucians of San Jose, California built the first planetarium in the United States. It used "pinhole" projection.)
The Seymour Planetarium (named in honor of Stephen Seymour, a major donator) was dedicated on October 20, 1937. At the time of the planetarium's dedication, only five other planetariums were in operation in the United States. (The four other planetariums used German built Zeiss projectors.)
For the next two decades, Frank Korkosz presented ten thousand planetarium shows that reached nearly one million people. During World War II Korkosz used the planetarium to teach celestial navigation to pilots stationed at Westover Airforce Base.
In 1958, Korkosz was appointed director of the museum, a position he held until his retirement in 1974. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Western New England College in 1964. Frank Korkosz died in 1987.
The Stars Club established the Korkosz Award for Outstanding Contibutions to Astronomy in 1988. It is presented annually to an individual from the northeast who, like Frank Korkosz, has demonstrated a passion for "sharing the wonders of the night sky."
Korkosz Award Recipients
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