It is with great sadness that The Discovery Museum and Planetarium announces the loss of Leslie E. Birkmaier, who passed away May 16, 2011, at the age of 78.

Leslie served stateside in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, but he is best remembered as the director of the Henry B DuPont III Planetarium at The Discovery Museum and Planetarium, formerly known as the Museum of Art, Science, and Industry, in Bridgeport, CT. He served in this, as well as other museum capacities, for 42 years, from January of 1962 to October of 2004.

He leaves a legacy of hundreds of thousands, young and old, who were introduced to the wonder and beauty of the night sky through his countless planetarium lectures. In tribute to his tireless work, the Leslie E. Birkmaier Fund was founded to underwrite on-going planetarium improvements and provide scholarship dollars to young astronomy scholars in the formative stages of their career. One first scholarship recipient, Brendan Hermalyn, was awarded a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences, from Brown University, May 29, 2011.

Leslie Birkmaier leaves his wife, Lynette Griswold Birkmaier; son, Gary Birkmaier and his wife, Lisa, and grandson, Karl Birkmaier.