In collaboration with the
International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
University Observatory, Munich, Germany

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 19:57:43
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Universitäts-Sternwarte München, Scheinerstraße 1, D-81679 München-Bogenhausen, Germany

Out stations:
Solar-Observatory Wendelstein, D-83735 Bayrischzell

Mount Fowlkes in Texas -- Hobby-Eberly-Teleskop (HET, 9×11-m-mirrors)

 

Location 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
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    Date: 2021-08-29 20:20:36
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Latitude 48°08’43’’N, Longitude 11°36’25’’E, Elevation 529m

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
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    Date: 2018-08-17 10:28:31
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

532

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:21:08
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Royal Observatory in Bogenhausen near Munich (*181

Fig. 1. Royal Observatory in Bogenhausen near Munich (*1817), Lithography C. Lebschée, 1830 (© Universitäts-Sternwarte München)



The ex-benedictine and astronomer Ulrich Schiegg (1752--1810) was appointed court astronomer to Munich, who then set up a small observatory in January 1803 in the north-west tower of the former Jesuit college in Neuhauser Straße -- the Bavarian Academy of Sciences had been housed here since 1783. The main task was surveying, but the cooperation between Schiegg and the French geodesists was problematic. Schiegg was dismissed at the instigation of the French in 1805.

The astronomer Karl Felix von Seyffer (1762--1822) was appointed, who had excellent connections to the French army command. In 1816, King Max I. Joseph (Elector Max IV. Joseph 1756-1825, ruled 1799 and 1806-1825) officially commissioned the construction of an observatory as requested by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. In 1816/17, a representative observatory building was erected - east of the village of Bogenhausen. This observatory was administrated by the newly established General Conservatory of the State’s Scientific Collections in 1827. After Bavaria was elevated to a kingdom (1806), there was rapid progress. In 1807, several astronomical instruments were ordered from the up-and-coming precision mechanical-optical workshop of Utzschneider, Reichenbach & Liebherr in Munich. Due to inactivity, Seyffer was dismissed in 1815.

On April 1, 1816, the astronomer Johann Georg von Soldner (1776--1833) was appointed Seyffer’s successor. Under the direction of the royal court building inspector Franz Thurn (1763-1844), the horseshoe-shaped building -- the Royal Observatory in Bogenhausen, 6 km from Munich center, -- was built in 1817, the instruments arrived in 1819.

The meridian hall in the center housed three transit instruments, including a meridian circle made by the Mathematical-Mechanical Institute of Reichenbach & Ertel. When it was delivered in 1819, it was one of the best meridian circles in the world, as the scales on the circles were divided with Reichenbach’s famous dividing machine, which improved the declination determination of stars by a factor of 10.
In the eastern dome was an equatorial, in the western dome portable instruments werde used.
Soldner was mainly interested in classical astronomy, in the measurements of the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars.

But then astrophysics started, when in 1820 Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787--1826) continued spectroscopic investigations of planets and bright stars with his new spectral apparatus, set up in the west tower of the observatory, for experiments on the nature of the light of fixed stars, which he had started some time ago in the Optical Institute in Benediktbeuern. In these spectra he had found dark lines similar to those he had already discovered in large numbers in the spectrum of the Sun, measured precisely and published in 1817. Soldner assisted him in his experiments in Bogenhausen, which, in addition to the micrometric determination of the position of the lines in the Sirius spectrum, also included investigations of different coloured stars. His main interest turned to the study of terrestrial magnetism; with this topic he became world famous.

The Scot Johann von Lamont (1805--1879), who succeeded Soldner in 1835 as director of the observatory, continued these spectroscopic investigations with his new "giant" telescope, produced since 1825 in the former Fraunhofer workshop, finished by Georg Merz (1793--1870) in 1835, and housed in a separate building on the observatory’s ground. In 1836, he placed a small prism behind the telescope’s eyepiece and was thus able to measure spectroscopically stars up to 40 times weaker stars than Fraunhofer was able to measure.

Lamont’s successor, Hugo von Seeliger (1849--1924), who headed the observatory from 1882 until his death, again put the focus of work on astronomy, especially on theoretical astronomy (e.g. stellar statistics, error analysis theory, celestial mechanics). In 1900, at the instigation of the Academy of Sciences, continueing the tradition of geophysical observations in Bogenhausen, a new geomagnetic observatory was built, and later an earthquake observatory was constructed. In 1922, these facilities were officially designated as the Geophysics Observatory (Erdphysikalische Warte) near the Astronomical Observatory (Sternwarte).

Karl Schwarzschild (1873--1916), who received his doctorate from Seeliger in 1898 and introduced modern theoretical astrophysics.  

In 1938, the observatory was incorporated into the Faculty of Physics of the University of Munich -- it became a university observatory. In 1944 the observatory building suffered considerable damage in heavy air raids, the rebuilding took time until 1954. In addition around 1949, the Wendelstein Solar Observatory, built in 1941 for military reasons in the Bavarian Alps, was attached to the observatory.

Peter Wellmann (1913--1999) was director of the observatory from 1961 to 1982. In May 1964, the demolition of the almost 150-year-old observatory building, which no longer met these requirements in terms of its conception, began, and in June the construction of a new institute building on the historic site was tackled -- finished in 1966. The focus of scientific research was now on astrophysics, especially on the theory of stellar atmospheres, which incorporated radiation theory, hydrodynamics and atomic physics.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 6
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:32:53
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Instruments

  • Three transit instruments, Utzschneider, Reichenbach & Liebherr of Munich
  • Meridian circle, Mathematical-Mechanical Institute of Reichenbach & Ertel (1819)
  • Meridian circle, Repsold of Hamburg (1891)
  • Riefler precision pendulum clock, accuracy (clock drift) ±4 · 10-4 s/day. The most precise mechanical clock today  
  • Equatorial in the eastern dome
  • Large refractor, Fraunhofer and Georg Merz (1793--1870) of Munich (1825/35)
  • Vertical circle, Askania of Berlin, used from 1927 to 2007
  • Schmidt telescope
     
  • Wendelstein-Observatory
    • 80-cm-Telescope (1987)
    • 2-m-"Fraunhofer-Telescope", a Ritchey-Chrétien-Telescope, f/7.8, (2011/13), Kayser-Threde (Munich) and Astelco (Martinsried)
      with installed wide-field CCD camera (WWFI) and 3-channel camera  (3kk, optisch und nahes Infrarot, 2016), spectrograph for high resolution, field spectrograph for medium resolutions on loan from McDonald Observatory in Texas
    • 43-cm-Cassegrain-Telescope, CDK17 telescope made by Planewave with corrective optics, f=3,2m, f/6.8, wuth CCD Camera or PSPEC (2016)
       
    • 20-cm-Koronograph, Carl Zeiss of Oberkochen, Sun in white light, in the red H-alpha line and in the colour spectrum.
      Sun maps were created at Wendelstein between 1947 and 1982,  published under Solar Data Services of the National Geophysical Data Center (Boulder). They are based on recordings of the photosphere, the chromosphere, integral recordings, H-alpha recordings, K-gamma recordings and prominences.
       
    • Allsky Meteorite camera (DLR, 2008)
       
  • 9m- and 11m-Hobby-Eberly-Telescope (f=13,1m) in Texas consists of 91 Zerodur-Mirror-Elements, for observation in optical and near infrared as well as for spectrographic recordings

 

 

State of preservation 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:22:04
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The original building of 1817 was replaced by a modern building in 1966. The refractor dome with the Fraunhofer-Merz instrument and the vertical circle, Repsold of Hamburg, can still be found there.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:22:26
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The original building of 1817 had two domes like Hamburg Millerntor and the old Brussels Observatory.

 

Threats or potential threats 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
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    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:22:44
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no threats

 

Present use 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:23:09
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

It is still used as university observatory of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich.
 

 

Astronomical relevance today 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:23:34
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

It is still an outstanding university institute of astrophysics.
Today’s research areas of the institute are mainly hot stars and stellar winds, cool stars, extragalactic astronomy, computational astronomy and plasma astrophysics.
Out stations: Wendelstein-Observatory and Mount Fowlkes,  in Texas, Davis Mountains, 700 km west of Austin -- Hobby-Eberly-Teleskop (HET, 9×11-m-mirrors)
 

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:24:01
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt


  • Bachmann, W.: Die Attribute der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1807--1827. Kallmünz (Münchener Historische Studien, Abteilung Bayerische Geschichte, Band 8) 1966.

  • Häfner, Reinhold & Rolf Riekher: Die Pioniere der Sternspektroskopie. Die stellarspektroskopischen Untersuchungen von Fraunhofer (1816-1820) und Lamont (1836). In: Acta Historica Astronomiae, Vol. 18 (2003), p. 137-165.

  • Häfner, Reinhold: Die Universitäts-Sternwarte München im Wandel ihrer Geschichte. München 2003.

  • Häfner, Reinhold & H. Soffel (Hg.): Johann von Lamont 1805-1879, Leben und Werk. München 2006.

  • Häfner, Reinhold: 200 Jahre Sternwarte in Bogenhausen 1816--2016. München 2016 (501 pages).

  • Litten, Freddy: Astronomie in Bayern 1914--1945. Stuttgart: Steiner 1992, p. 43-87, 137-153.

  • Soffel, H.: History of the Munich-Maisach-Fürstenfeldbruck Geomagnetic Observatory. In: History of Geo- and Space Sciences 6 (2015), p. 65-86.

  • Winkler, P.: Quellen-Sammlung zur Geschichte des Observatoriums Hohenpeißenberg überwiegend vom 18. und 19. Jahrhundert. Weilheim 2010 (290 pages).

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Sonnenphysik im Zweiten Weltkrieg -- Wissenschaft oder Kriegsforschung? In: Meinel, C. & P. Voswinckel (Hg.): Medizin, Naturwissenschaft, Technik und Nationalsozialismus -- Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten. Tagungsband für 1992 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik. Stuttgart: Verlag für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik 1994, p. 152-159.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Karl Schwarzschild, der Begründer der theoretischen Astrophysik. In: Physik in unserer Zeit - PhiuZ 47 (2016), Heft 6, S. 294-300.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Karl Schwarzschild, bedeutendster Nachfolger von Gauß und Begründer der theoretischen Astrophysik. In: Gauss Gesellschaft e.V. Göttingen Mitteilungen (GGM) 54 (2017), S. 9-27.

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-29 20:24:22
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Links to external on-line pictures 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 142
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    Version: 1
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2018-08-17 10:28:32
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no information available

 

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