In collaboration with the
International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Warsaw Observatory, Poland

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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Aleje Ujazdowskie 4, PL-00-478 Warszawa (Warschau, Warsaw), Poland

 

Location 
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Latitude 52.216988 N, Longitude 21.027708 E, Elevation ...m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
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558

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 16:46:04
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Warsaw (Warschau, Warszawa) University Observatory

Fig. 1. Warsaw (Warschau, Warszawa) University Observatory in classicist style, architects Christian Piotr Aigner, Michal Kado, and Hilary Szpilkowski (1825) (photo Bartosz Bobkowski)



The Warsaw (Warschau, Warszawa) Observatory is located in between Lazienki Park and the Botanical Gardens, overlooking both. Built in 1820/24 next to a greenhouse for the University of Warsaw, opened in 1825. Three architects, Christian Piotr Aigner, Michal Kado, and Hilary Szpilkowski, erected the observatory in classicist style, a four story edifice. In the ground floor and the first floor Ionic order columns were used, while the second and the third floor has Corinthian columns. In the center of the facade are three huge arched windows. There are  terraces over the columned entrance portico and on the roof, besides two domes and a meridian room.


Warsaw University Observatory (1825) (Warsawa Obse

Fig. 2. Warsaw University Observatory (1825) (Warsawa Observatory)



Scientific Activities



Franciszek Armiński, a student of Delambre and Arago, was the first director of the Astronomy Department. With the funds of Tsar Alexander I, he got his first instrumentation.
Jan Baranowski, a student of Bessel, director since 1848, was interested in comets, observed comet Biela, and determined the orbit. In 1869, the Russians reorganized the University and only Russians became directors.

Adam Prazmowski, Poland’s first astrophysicist, became famous for the discovery of the polarization of light, emitted by the solar corona. Michał Kamieński organized the construction  of an observatory at Pop Iwan (2020m) in the East Carpathian Mountains in 1936; a 33-cm-astrograph (1937) were ordered from Grubb & Parsons for astrophotography.



After WWII an observing station in Ostrowik, 35 km south-east of Warsaw, was erected, mostly for educational purposes.
Photoelectric and spectral observations of variable stars and binaries were made. The atmospheres of these stars were studied in theoretical works. Also stellar-statistical and extragalactical studies were undertaken (with photographic plates from abroad or with the  Palomar Sky Atlas). In addition, a satellite tracking station was set up.

 

History 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 16:50:39
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Ivan Anatol’evich Vostokov (1840--1898) (Wik

Fig. 3. Ivan Anatol’evich Vostokov (1840--1898) (Wikipedia)



Directors



  • Franciszek Armiński (1789--1848), 1816 professor, 1825 to 1848
  • Jan Baranowski (1800--1879), 1848 to 1869
  • Ivan Anatol’evich Vostokov (1840--1898), astronomer at Pulkovo, director 1869 to 1895
  • Aleksandr Vasilevich Krasnov (1866--1907), astronomer in Kazan in 1898, director 1899 to 1907
  • .... Cerny (....), director 1908 to 1915
  • Adam Prazmowski (1821--1885),
  • Jan Kowalczyk (1833--1911), ...
  • Jan  Krasowski, an  astronomer from Lwow, temporarily nominated as director
  • Michał Kamieński (1897--1973), astronomer in Pulkovo, Vladyvostok and Tokyo, director 1923 to 1944
  • Kurt Walter (1905--1992), commissary director of the astronomical observatories in the General Gouvernement (Warsaw, Cracow, and later Lwow).
  • ....



.... (....)

Fig. 4. .... (....)



Original Instruments (until 1944)



  • Meridian Circle, Reichenbach & Ertel of Munich
  • Transit Instrument, Reichenbach & Ertel of Munich
  • Large Equatorial
  • Heliometer
  • Comet Seeker
  • 16-cm-Parallactic Refractor, Merz of Munich (1859)
  • 33-cm-Astrograph (Triplet) combined with a 25-cm-visual refractor, Grubb & Parsons of Newcastle upon Tyne (1937) -- observatory at Pop Iwan


Instruments after WWII in Ostrowik



  • Astrograph with two cameras (14cm and 6cm)
  • 25-cm-Refractor
  • 35-cm-Reflector
  • 60-cm-Reflecting Telescope, Carl Zeiss of Jena

 

State of preservation 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 16:51:33
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The building, including the furniture, astronomical museum collections, as well as the library with unique 15th and 16th century manuscripts, burned down during the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
The observatory was carefully reconstructed in 1947 based on the design of Jan Dąbrowski and was restored in its 1824 shape. But inside walls and staircases were demolished, and the whole building was prepared to serve as an educational facility in astronomy.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
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    Date: 2021-05-16 16:52:27
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Warsaw University Observatory (1825) (Warsawa Univ

Fig. 5. Warsaw University Observatory (1825) (Warsawa University, uw200.uw.edu.pl.jpg)



There exist several observatories with two domes in the beginning of the 19th century, e.g. Millerntor Observatory Hamburg, Brussels first Observatory, but this Warsaw Observatory is large in comparison with four floors.

 

Threats or potential threats 
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The building is well restored after the destruction in WWII - no threats.

 

Present use 
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The observatory is acticely used for astrophysical research in the following areas: extragalactic astronomy, theory of relativity and cosmology, the theory of stellar atmospheres, the theory of hydrodynamic flows in binary systems and interstellar matter, observations of variable stars (binaries, pulsars, chromospherically active), the photometry of stellar clusters, the spectroscopy of variable and chemically singular stars.
Nowadays the observatory serves also for educational purposes and for teaching students.

 

Astronomical relevance today 
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Polish 1.3-m-telescope in Las Campanas Observatory

Fig. 6a. Polish 1.3-m-telescope in Las Campanas Observatory in Chile (Wikipedia CC 2.5, Krzysztof Ulaczyk)

OGLE-IV Galactic Bulge fields with cadence, from O

Fig. 6b. OGLE-IV Galactic Bulge fields with cadence, from OGLE-IV sky coverage (Wikipedia CC 3, Vulpecula)


Artist’s impression of the planet OGLE-2005-

Fig. 6c. Artist’s impression of the planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb discovered by the OGLE Team (NASA)



 

 


The observatory is a headquarter of two widely recognized worldwide large scale long-term surveys: OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, 1992) and ASAS (All Sky Automated Survey) -- leaders of this new field of modern astrophysics.


Warsaw astronomers are also actively involved in many well known astrophysical collaborations like H.E.S.S., CTA, LIGO/VIRGO, ARAUKARIA, and satellite missions like PLANCK and GAIA. Observatory operates two observing stations: the northern station is located in Ostrowik near Warsaw and it is used mainly for educational and student training purposes. The southern station with a 1.3-m-Reflector (for massive stellar photometry) is located at the Las Campanas Observatory, Chile (LCO), Carnegie Institution of Washington -- one of the best astronomical sites in the world.

 

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 181
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  • Witkowski, J.M.: Michał Kamieński (1897--1973). In: QJRAS 15 (1974), 50-52 (1974QJRAS__15___48W).

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 181
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    Date: 2021-05-16 16:57:08
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Links to external on-line pictures 
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    Date: 2021-04-19 07:43:00
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no information available

 

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