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International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Mathematical Tower, University of Breslau / Wrocław, Poland

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-03-28 20:54:39
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Mathematical Tower, Main Building of the University Breslau, plac Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław, Poland

See also: Breslau Observatory, Wrocław, Poland (code 547)

 

Location 
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Latitude 51.114141 N, longitude 17.033464 E, Elevation ??? m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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-

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 17:32:39
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Foundation of the Mathematical Tower (1791)

<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), Univ

Fig. 1. Mathematical Tower (1791), University of Breslau (Wrocław) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


The University of Breslau (today Wrocław) was originally a Jesuit college, founded in 1702 when Silesia was still owned by the Habsburg emperors. The construction of the baroque university building in Breslau began in 1728 (until 1739) on the Southern bank of the Oder. The Jesuit brother Christoph Tausch made probably the plans for the building because he had already gained experience in Bohemia (Müller 1992).

The Jesuit observatory was founded as an institution in 1732. The professor of mathematics Christoph Heinrich in the years 1702 to 1715 already determined the geographical coordinates of Wrocław, and professors Franz Geissle and Joseph Wache in 1764 conducted observations of the solar eclipse.
 

<i>Mathematical Tower</i> with Armilla<i>Mathematical Tower</i> with Armilla

Fig. 2a,b. Mathematical Tower with Armillary Sphere (1791), University of Breslau (Wrocław) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)



However, the birth of academic astronomy, the University of Breslau (Wrocław), owes only to Professor Longinus Anton Jungnitz (1764--1831), who in the years 1790--1791 established the Astronomical Observatory in the so-called Mathematical Tower at the top of University’s Main Building, in which he marked a meridian line. Obviously the tower of the Clementinum in Prague was the model for the so-called Mathematical Tower here in Wrocław, because this is, like there, the outstanding component of the entire university building. The rather large terrace around the top floor of the tower was an advantage in Wrocław. The entire construction was carried out by Johann B. Peintner.

Jungnitz’s first published work was Drei neue Sternbilder, die als ewige Denkmäler am gestirnten Himmel errichtet werden sollten (1789), as well as meteorological observations, geographical surveying, altitude measurements, description of astronomical observations.

After the secularization of the Jesuit Order and the merger of Wrocław’s Leopoldina with the Frankfurt/Oder Viadrina in 1811, and the establishment of the Royal University of Wrocław, Jungnitz remained a lecturer at the Wrocław university, and even rector from 1815 to 1816.


 

<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), 7 Fr<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), 7 Fr

Fig. 3a,b. Mathematical Tower (1791), 7 Free Arts: Astronomy and Law (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)



<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), 7 Fr

Fig. 4a. Mathematical Tower (1791), 7 Free Arts: Theology (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), 7 Fr

Fig. 4b. Mathematical Tower (1791), 7 Free Arts: Medicine (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)

 

Development in the 19th and early 20th centuries

In the following years, the Observatory was managed by:

  • Ernst Julius Scholtz (1799--1841),
  • Palm [Palon] Heinrich Ludwig von Bogusławski (1789--1851), the discoverer of the comet from 1835.
     
  • Johann Gottfried Galle (1812--1910) was director from 1851 to 1897, and was very famous due to his discovery of Neptune in Berlin (1846) -- indicated by mathematical calculations of Urbain LeVerrier (1811--1877), but also for discovering the inner ring of Saturn (1838), later named after him. In Breslau, he observed and calculated the paths of comets, asteroids, planets, and meteors, he also studied the distribution of stars, in addition he was interested in the Earth’s climate, magnetism, and the aurora borealis.

    Large room of the Wrocław Observatory i

    Fig. 4c. Large room of the Wrocław Observatory in the Mathematical Tower:
    Dollond transit instrument (right),
    Repeating Circle in an iron frame (middle), Utzschneider & Liebherr of Munich,
    Universal Instrument (left), Utzschneider & Liebherr of Munich,
    Mural Quadrant (in the background)
    (courtesy of J. Włodarczyk, 2017)


     
  • Julius Heinrich Georg Franz (1847--1913), director 1897, had observed the Transit of Venus on December 6, 1882, in South Carolina. Franz is best known for his observations of the lunar surface-- in cooperation with the lunar surface research programme implemented at the Lick Observatory, based on photographic plates.
     
  • Alexander Friedrich Karl Wilkens (1881--1969), previously working in Göttingen, Vienna, Heidelberg, Hamburg and Kiel, became the director of the Astronomical Observatory in 1916, and made plans for a new observatory. After WWI in 1921, the first instruments were moved, first to a meridian pavilion.

In 1927, a new observatory was built on the eastern edge of the city, see Breslau Observatory.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-05-16 17:34:33
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), Meri

Fig. 5a. Mathematical Tower (1791), Meridian line (Wrocław) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


<i>Mathematical Tower</i> (1791), Meri

Fig. 5b. Mathematical Tower (1791), Meridian gnomon sun hole (Wrocław) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)

 


 

Instruments for positional observations in the time of Longinus Anton Jungnitz



With small instruments at its disposal, the Observatory specialized in those years in geodetic astronomy, meteorology, observations of comets and meteors, photometry of planets and asteroids, and the preparation of celestial maps.



  • Brockbank astronomical clock (1806)
  • Wall quadrant (1812)
  • Heliometer, aperture 7.7cm, focal length 113.4cm, made by Fraunhofer of Munich (1817)
  • Transit instrument, aperture 7.3cm, focal length 105.3cm, made by Peter Dollond (1730--1821) of London (1821).
  • Repeating Theodolite, Reichenbach, Utzschneider & Liebherr of Munich


<i>Mathematical Tower</i>, Repeating T

Fig. 6a. Mathematical Tower, Repeating Theodolite, Reichenbach, Utzschneider & Liebherr of Munich (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


 


 


  • 8-inch-Clark-Repsold refractor (diameter 20.3cm, focal length 2.88m), purchased from the heirs of the astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Rudolf Engelmann from Leipzig, for observing positional visually double stars, asteroids, and comets.
  • Transit instrument (lens of 8.9cm diameter), made by Carl Bamberg of Berlin.

Both instruments including the Fraunhofer heliometer were installed in a pavilion on the Śluz Island.


 

<i>Mathematical Tower</i>, Transit ins

Fig. 6b. Mathematical Tower, Transit instrument, Peter Dollond of London (1821) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


<i>Mathematical Tower</i>, Quadrant (P

Fig. 6c. Mathematical Tower, Quadrant (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)

 

 

State of preservation 
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    Date: 2021-03-28 22:20:49
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

<i>Mathematical Tower</i>, University

Fig. 7. Mathematical Tower, University of Breslau (Wrocław) (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)



The Mathematical Tower is in good condition, but unfortunately the gnomon hole of the meridian line, constructed by L.A. Jungnitz in 1791, has not been preserved.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 176
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    Version: 2
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    Date: 2021-03-28 22:25:06
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Baroque Mathematical Towers: Kremsmünster 1749, Clementinum Prague 1722, Zwehrenturm in Kassel 1710, Old Vienna University Observatory -- tower on the top 1755, Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera of the Jesuits in Milano 1762, Mannheim observatory 1772 -- Mathematical Tower (1791), University of Breslau (Wrocław).

 

Threats or potential threats 
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no threats

 

Present use 
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    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Museum for Astronomy of the University of Breslau (Wrocław).
In the Leopoldina Hall there are impressive Baroque wall paintings.

University of Breslau (Wrocław), Baroqu

Fig. 7a. University of Breslau (Wrocław), Baroque wall paintings (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


University of Breslau (Wrocław), Baroqu

Fig. 7b. University of Breslau (Wrocław), Baroque wall paintings (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)

 

Astronomical relevance today 
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    Date: 2021-03-28 22:27:18
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

still in use -- as museum and for public outreach, but not for modern astronomy.

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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  • Müller, Peter: Breslau 1728--1733. In: Sternwarten in Bildern. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer 1992. doi

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Kirchhoff and Bunsen, influential professors of Breslau (Wrocław) University, and their contribution in the development of spectral analysis. In: Ksiega Pamiatkowa Jubileuszu 200-lecia utworzenia Panstwowego Uniwersytetu we Wrocławiu. Materialy Miedzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej, Wrocław 4-7 pazdziernika 2011 r. Tom IV, Uniwersytet Wrocławski w kulturze europejskiej XIX i XX wieku. (Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference in Wrocław University, Poland. In the European Culture of the 19th and 20th c. In Honour the 200th Anniversary of the Foundation of State Wrocław University, Wrocław, 4-7 October 2011). Ed. by Jan Harasimowicz. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytet Wrocławskiego 2015, p. 663-670.

  • Włodarczyk, Jarosław: Astronomia [in Wrocław]. ResearchGate (2017).

 

Links to external sites 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 15:42:50
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Links to external on-line pictures 
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    Date: 2021-03-28 20:50:02
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no information available

 

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