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International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Vartiovuori Observatory, Åbo/Turku, Finland

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:28:54
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Vartiovuori Observatory på Vårdberget,
Tähtitorninkatu 1, 20700 Turku, Varsinais-Suomi, Finland.
Stiftelsen för Åbo Akademi

 

Location 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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Latitude 60.448719° N, Longitude 22.276856° E, Elevation ...m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

-

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:31:10
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (

Fig. 1. Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (1819) (Wikipedia CC3, Markus Koljonen (Dilaudid))


Vartiovuori Observatory på Vårdberget in Vartiovuori park (Finnish: Vartiovuoren tähtitorni, Swedish: Åbo Akademis observatorium) is the former observatory of the Royal Academy of Turku. It was the first observatory in Finland. The Åbo Academy was founded in 1640 by Sweden; from 1809 until 1917 Finland was as Grand Duchy part of the Russian Empire.

The first plans were drawn up by the Italian-Finnish architect Charles Bassi (1772--1840). The building was completed in the years 1817 to 1819 and designed by German-Finnish architect Carl Ludvig Engel (1778--1840). The ground plan was a Latin cross. By its style, the neoclassical observatory is a typical work of Engel and it has obvious similarity to Helsinki University Observatory and Pulkovo Observatory (in St. Petersburg, Russia), which are as well Engel’s work. But in Turku, there are not three domes, but one large dome.

Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (

Fig. 2. Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (1819) (Wikipedia CC2, Sándor Iskender)


The building is located on top of the Vartiovuori hill, close to the cathedral and Aura river and it’s well visible from many places in city center.

The observatory and several wooden houses (current Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum) on the hill were saved from the Great Fire of Turku 1827. It was only used for twelve years. The Turku Academy and its astronomical instrumentation were moved to Helsinki after the Great Fire in Turku of 1827.
The Vartiovuori Observatory is famous for a note made by the German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander (1799--1875).
In 1831/34, a new observatory was built in Helsinki, and the staff and instruments were moved to the new place.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:43:38
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The observatory was first directed by Henrik Walbeck (1793--1822) from 1817 to 1822, then by Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander (1799--1875) from 1823 to 1834.

Yrjö Väisälä (1891--1971) (Wikipedia)

Fig. 3. Yrjö Väisälä (1891--1971) (Wikipedia)

About a hundred years later, a (new) university was founded in Turku in 1920; the physicist, astronomer and geodesist Yrjö Väisälä (1891--1971) became professor of physics in 1923 and, from 1925, part-time professor of astronomy. He did not become head of the observatory because at that time the old observatory from 1818 existed only as a building, but instruments and staff were in Helsinki. Apart from discoveries of two comets and 128 asteroids (minor planets) his most interesting achievement was the design of an "anastigmatic" reflecting telescope, invented in 1924 -- before Bernhard Schmidt, but published afterwards.

 

 

State of preservation 
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:44:02
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (

Fig. 4. Vartiovuori Observatory Turku, Carl Ludvig Engel (1819) (Wikipedia CC3, Nescionomen)


The Vartiovuori Observatory, built by Carl Ludvig Engel, is very well restored. The Vartiovuori Observatory is on a hill, perfectly visible from everywhere in the city center.
The Finnish Heritage Agency has designated the Vartiovuori observatory together with the Vartiovuori hill and the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum as one of the Finnish built cultural heritage sites of national signficance.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:44:29
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The Vartiovuori Observatory, built by Carl Ludvig Engel, has obvious similarity to Helsinki University Observatory and Pulkovo Observatory (in St. Petersburg, Russia). But in Turku, there are not three domes, but one large dome.

 

Threats or potential threats 
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no threats

 

Present use 
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:45:18
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

After the Great Fire in Turku of 1827, when the astronomers had left for Helsinki, the Turku Navigation School moved to the observatory in 1836, which operated there until 1967. Then the  observatory was renovated for the use of the Maritime Museum and astronomical collections from 1978 to 1985.

Already in the 1840s, the city of Turku made an initiative for designing a park on the rocky hill. The general plan of the park was drawn up in 1872 by Mårten Gabriel Stenius, the first Finnish large-scale garden designer and architect F.A. Sjöström. The final implementation of the park was based on a plan led by Oskar Rudolf Gauffin, Turku’s first city gardener, in the 1880s.

Today the former Vartiovuori Observatory is used by the Åbo Akademi University Foundation.

 

Astronomical relevance today 
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    Entity: 202
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    Date: 2021-07-12 21:21:01
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The building of the Åbo Observatory (1818) was used only very shortly as an observatory due the the Great Fire of 1827.
See also these observatories in Turku:


  • 062     Iso-Heikkilän tähtitorni (Observatory), Turku University; Turun observatorio), Turku, Finland (1937)
    60°27’7.38’’N, 22°13’47.28’’E

    Iso-Heikkilän tähtitorni (1937), Turku Universit

    Fig. 6a. Iso-Heikkilän tähtitorni (1937), Turku University (Wikipedia)


    Large 50-cm-Väisälä Schmidt Telescope, 1937, Is

    Fig. 6b. Large 50-cm-Väisälä Schmidt Telescope, 1937, Iso-Heikkilän tähtitorni, Turku University (Turun yliopisto, mediapankki)


    • 15-cm-telescope
    • 13-cm-telescope
    • 19-cm-Schmidt-Väisälä camera
    • 50-cm-Schmidt-Väisälä Telescope (1937)

    The Iso-Heikkilä Observatory (Finnish: Iso-Heikkilän tähtitorni) is an amateur astronomical observatory used by a local amateur astronomical association, Turun Ursa in the Iso-Heikkilä district of Turku, Finland.
     
  • 063   Turku-Tuorla Observatory, Kaarina, Southwest Finland (1952) -- ten kilometres east of Turku, University of Turku
    Location  60°24’57’’ N, 22°26’36’’ E, Altitude 61m

    Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku, tower for

    Fig. 6. Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku, tower for the 1-m-telescope (Wikipedia CC3, Xepheid)


    Tuorla Observatory was established in 1952 by professor Yrjö Väisälä. A new observatory was needed because the old Iso-Heikkilä Observatory close to the centre of Turku started suffering from heavy light pollution from the nearby city and especially the industrial areas to the south of the observatory. A new place was found in Tuorla, which is one of the small villages in (former) Piikkiö municipality. It is located about 12 kilometres from Turku towards Helsinki.
    Tuorla Observatory is the Department of Astronomy at the University of Turku, southwest Finland.

    Instruments:

    • 1.0-m-Cassegrain-Reflector "Dall-Kirkham-Reflektor" (concave primary mirror, ellipsoid, and convex secondary mirror, spherical)
    • 2.0-m-Solar Radio telescope
    • 0.7-m-Väisälä-Schmidt telescope
    • 0.6-m-Reflector

    Liisi Oterma (1915--2001) was the first astronomer in Finland to receive a astronomer in Finland and discovered about 200 minor planets as well as three comets. She also cooperated with Väisälä in the field of optics. In 1965 she became Väisälä’s successor as professor, and in 1971 as director.
    In May 2018, the astronomy department moved from Tuorla to the building of the Institute of Physics and Astronomy in the main campus in the city.
     
  • 064     Turku-Kevola Observatory (Turku-Kevola; Kevolan tähtitorni, Turun Ursa), Turku

 

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 202
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    Date: 2021-07-12 21:10:39
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

  • Isaksson, Eva: Liisi Oterma, astronomer, 1915--2001. Women of Learning. City of Helsinki 2016.
  • Kalpa, Harri: Unohdettu Vartiovuori. In: Muuttuva kaupunki: Turku eilen ja tänään III. Turku: Turun Sanomat 1976. (in Finnish).
  • Karttunen, Hannu: Vanhin tiede: Tähtitiedettä kivikaudesta kuulentoihin. Helsinki: Ursa 2003. (in Finnish).
  • Lounatvuori, Irma: Turun tähtitieteellinen observatorio. Carl Ludvig Engel 1778--1840. Näyttelykatalogi. 1990.
  • Markkanen, Tapio: C.L. Engel ja F.W.A. Argelander. In: Tiili 4 (1976).
  • Mattila, Kalevi: personal communication (2015).
  • Väisälä, Yrjö: Anastigmatisches Spiegelteleskop der Sternwarte der Universität Turku. In: Astronomische Nachrichten 254 (1935), Nr. 20, p. 361-364.
  • Väisälä, Yrjö: Über Spiegelteleskope mit großem Geischtsfeld. In: Astronomische Nachrichten 259 (1936), Nr. 12, p. 197-204.
  • Willner-Rönnholm, Margareta: Turun Tähtitorni. Rakennushistoriikki. Aboa 1982. Turku: Turun maakuntamuseo 1982. (in Finnish).
  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Vorwort: Astronomie im Ostseeraum - Astronomy in the Baltic, here: Sternwarte Åbo / Turku (1818). Wolfschmidt, Gudrun (ed.): Astronomie im Ostseeraum -- Astronomy in the Baltic. Proceedings der Tagung des Arbeitskreises Astronomiegeschichte in der Astronomischen Gesellschaft in Kiel 2015. Hamburg: tredition (Nuncius Hamburgensis; Vol. 38) 2018, p. 42-46.

 

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2021-07-12 20:59:43
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Links to external on-line pictures 
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    Date: 2021-07-12 19:48:37
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no information available

 

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