In collaboration with the
International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Neubaukirche Observatory, Würzburg, Germany : Neubaukirche Observatory Würzburg, Germany

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-02 19:40:38
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Neubaukirche (University church), Neubaustrasse / Schönthalstrasse, Würzburg, Germany

 

Location 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-06 20:32:47
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Latitude 49.790853° N, Longitude 9.932251° E, Elevation 177m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 1
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-02 19:06:27
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

-

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 8
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-11 13:56:09
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Würzburg Old University and University church, co

Fig. 1a. Würzburg Old University and University church, copper engraving by Matthäus Merian: Topographia Germaniae (1653)


Würzburg Neubaukirche, Portal with coat of arms o

Fig. 1b. Würzburg Neubaukirche, Portal with coat of arms of Julius Echter and Philipp Adolf von Ehrenberg (Wikipedia, Wolfgang Keller)



In the time of the counter-reformation, in 1582, the University of Würzburg (Alma mater Herbipolensis, *1402) was re-founded by the Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1545--1617); the construction of the "Old" University (Academia Iulia) and the Neubaukirche ("Newly Built Church") as university church started in 1583 and 1586 respectivly on the site of the former St. Ulrich monastery and the Jesuit garden. The four-wing complex, surrounded by the streets Neubaustraße, Schönthalstraße and Domerschulstraße, with the university church was completed in 1591 by Georg Robin (1522--1592), an architect from the Electorate of Mainz, in Renaissance style. Directly connected, but independent are the buildings of the Jesuit College with St. Michael church.

Neubaukirche and north facade of the University W�

Fig. 2a. Neubaukirche and north facade of the University Würzburg (Wikipedia, Wolfgang Keller)


Neubaukirche with dome and lantern (Wikipedia, Wol

Fig. 2a. Neubaukirche with dome and lantern (Wikipedia, Wolfgang Keller)



In the Baroque period (1696--1703) the tower of the University church (Neubaukirche) was modernized by Antonio Petrini (1621--1701) in the style of the Franconian Baroque, which he describes as a synthesis of Italian Baroque and German Renaissance. In addition, Balthasar Neumann (1687--1753) built the Baroque library hall (1722); the library was already founded in 1619. After the demolition of the old building from Julius Echter’s time, the new university was erected in 1788 along the Neubaustraße. The tower of the University church Neubaukirche is the highest church tower in Würzburg.
 

Neubaukirche of Würzburg University (Photo: Gudru

Fig. 3a. Neubaukirche of Würzburg University (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


Plaque on the Neubaukirche of Würzburg University

Fig. 3b. Plaque on the Neubaukirche of Würzburg University, remembering the observation of the Transit of Venus in 1761 made by Franz Huberti (1715--1789) (Photo: Arno Langkavel, Löningen)



Pater Franz Huberti SJ (1715--1789) was appointed professor of mathematics and astronomy (celestial mechanics) at the University of Würzburg in 1754.
He was commissioned by Prince-Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim to set up an observatory. For this purpose he travelled to Paris with the mathematician and astronomer Pater Christian Mayer SJ (1719--1763), professor of natural philosophy, University of Heidelberg (cf. Observatory Mannheim, founded in 1772). Under the guidance of César François Cassini de Thury (1714--1784) and Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille (1713--1762), they were introduced to the latest astronomical methods and equipment. After his return, Huberti set up an observatory in 1757 in the tower of the Neubaukirche, which is the highest church tower in Würzburg (91m).

From this tower observatory, Huberti observed the Transit of Venus in 1761, but later also a comet (1770). During the Transit of Venus on June 6, 1761, many expedions were organized to distant places on Earth. A total of 120 sciensts took part, who set up 62 stations. There was no official participation of German states; except in Würzburg, the Transit of Venus could only be observed in Bavaria (Munich and Polling), by Andreas Mayer (1716--1782) in  the University of Greifswald, and by P. Christian Mayer in his observatory in the castle of Schwetzingen (bad weather).

In the following years, the Prince Bishop hired two assistants for Huberti, including Johann Georg Neßtfell (1694--1762), a court and art carpenter from Wiesentheid, who made wooden planetary machines (orreries), quadrants and other astronomical equipment for the observatory.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 26
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-16 15:42:29
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Athanasius Kircher, SJ (1602--1680), fresco in Wü

Fig. 4. Athanasius Kircher, SJ (1602--1680), fresco in Würzburg University (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)

Astronomers of Würzburg University and Observatory
(since 17th century)

  • Adrianus Romanus (1561--1615)
  • Athanasius Kircher, SJ (1602--1680), 1629 to 1631
    (1633 to 1680 Collegium Romanum in Rome)
  • Kaspar Schott, SJ (1608--1666)
     
  • Franz Huberti, SJ (1715--1789)
  • Franz Trentel, SJ (1730--1804)

In 1773 the Jesuit order was dissolved, until then had all professors belonged to the Faculty of Philosophy. However, there were no drastic changes, as most of the professors retained their positions and the newly created professorships were filled with former Jesuits.

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775--1854)
  • Johann Nepomuk Fischer (1749--1805)
  • Karl Dietrich Martin Stahl (1771--1833)
  • Johann Schön (1771--1839)
  • Andreas Metz (1767--1839)
  • Aloys Mayr (1807--1890)
  • ....
  • Georg Rost (1870--1958), 1907 to 1937 --
    New Observatory on the roof of the new university building (1928--1945)
     
  • Otto Volk (1892--1989), ao. Prof. 1930/35, 1937 to 1938, 1949 to 1959 --
    Intermediate Observatory on the "Neumann-Kanzel" or "Belvedere" (1961),
    University Observatory in Johannes-Kepler-School in Würzburg-Keesburg (1966 to 1990)

In 1965, the Chair for Astronomy was established at the Faculty of Natural Sciences

  • Hans Haffner (1912--1977), 1965/1967 to 1977 -- photometric survey of the southern sky at the Boyden Observatory in Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • Franz-Ludwig Deubner (1934--2017), 1979 to 1999 -- Discoverer of the 5-minute oscillations of the Sun and thus a pioneer of Helioseismology
  • Karl Mannheim (*1963), since 2001 -- High energy astrophysics -- Construction of the world’s largest telescope for observing cosmic gamma rays on the Canary Island of La Palma -- The chair is closely connected by the North-Bavarian Research Cluster Würzburg-Erlangen-Bamberg (WEB) to the "Erlangen Center for Astroparticle Physics" (ECAP).
     

Instruments and Collections from the Physical Cabinet
(now in the Bavarian National Museum Munich)

The Bavarian National Museum Munich has an impressive collection of astronomical and meteorological instruments, as well as instruments from the former physical cabinet.

  • Globes
  • Clocks
  • Reflecting Telescope
  • Sundials, Polyeder Sundials
  • Meteorological Instruments


Neßtfell Planetarium (orrery), 1755/1761 (Wikiped

Fig. 5a. Neßtfell Planetarium (orrery), 1755/1761 (Wikipedia)


Neßtfell Planetarium (orrery) (Didaktik der Mathe

Fig. 5b. Neßtfell Planetarium (orrery) (Didaktik der Mathematik Würzburg)


 

Baroque Neßtfell Planetarium / Orrery (1759/60)


Neßtfell Planetarium machine (orrery), Johann Georg Neßtfell (Alsfeld 1694--1762 Würzburg), instrument maker, Johann Peter Wagner (Obertheres 1730--1809 Würzburg), sculptor, Markt Wiesentheid (Lkr. Kitzingen), 1759/60 (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum Munich)


This mechanical planetarium (orrery) is one of the most important astronomical demonstration models of the 18th century.
The base displays the traditional Ptolemaic model of the universe with planets, represented here by metalic statuettes, orbiting the Earth in a scenic representation, made by Johann Peter Wagner. The upper part shows the universe and demonstrates the movement of the heavenly bodies, which have been reduced in proportion to one another, around the Sun (Copernican Planetarium).

Already in 1753, Neßtfell made two orreries for the Imperial court in Vienna (one is preserved today in the Natural History Museum in Vienna); Neßtfell became imperial court mechanic (kaiserlischer Hofmechanikus). A detailed description was published in Würzburg in 1759. 

The mechanic Johann Georg Fellwöck (1728--1810) worked with the court carpenter Benedikt Schlecht in the Würzburg residence and became acquainted with Johann Georg Neßfell, at the latest when he was commissioned by Prince-Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708--1779) to build a planetarium in 1755.

Fellwöck and Neßfell built two large wall quadrants for the university observatory. After the death of Neßfell (1762), Fellwöck became the university mechanic of the observatory director Franz Huberti. Huberti himself -- probably in cooperation with Fellwöck -- built a planetarium (today in the Deutsches Museum) for the University of Würzburg in 1764.

 

Fellwöck astronomical-geographical pendulum clock (1768)



Fellwöck Geographic Clock (1768) (Bayerisches Nat

Fig. 7a. Fellwöck Geographic Clock (1768) (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum Munich)


Fellwöck Clock, clock face (Bayerisches Nationalm

Fig. 7b. Fellwöck Clock, clock face (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum Munich)



Johann Georg Fellwöck (1728--1810) also constructed the astronomical-geographical pendulum clock (1768) with clockwork and equation gear (equation of time) (today in the Bavarian National Museum), which was used until the observatory was destroyed in 1945. This Geographic Clock (1756--1768) indicated the solar radiation on the countries of the northern hemisphere above a flexible line stretched horizontally over the map of the earth, and curved upwards and downwards by the calendar movement according to the season. Johann Balthasar Gutwein (1702--1785), Court and university copper engraver (Hof- und Universitätskupferstecher) in Würzburg, engraved the clock face (more information: Ian Fowler: Gutwein-Uhren); such a clock is also in the Mainfränkisches Museum Würzburg.

Famous Geographic Clocks (since 1705) and their makers: Johann Baptist Homann (1664--1724) with the city clockmaker Zacharias Landteck their famous "Geographical Universal Pointing and Striking Clock" in Nürnberg, and Father Johannes Klein in Prague Clementinum.

Other works of Fellwöck:
A quadrant with two telescopes (1766) (today in the National Technical Museum in Prague),
an azimuthal quadrant (1768) (today in the Deutsches Museum in Munich).
Fellwöck built a planetarium under the guidance of the Würzburg Father Fridericus a Santo Christophero (Banz Monastery).
 

 

State of preservation 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 5
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-06 19:40:53
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Würzburg University with the founder Elected Prin

Fig. 10a. Würzburg University with the founder Elected Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, Rector and Chancellor, fresco (Photo: Gudrun Wolfschmidt)


Neubaukirche, North portal (Wikipedia, Wolfgang Ke

Fig. 10b. Neubaukirche, North portal (Wikipedia, Wolfgang Keller)



The university buildings (since 1919 Julius-Maximilians-Universität) and the Neubaukirche are reconstructed -- after the partial destruction in WWII -- as University church -- and the buildings are  acknowledged as an architectural jewel of Würzburg, as architectural monument of Bavaria (Denkmalliste von Bayern, Nr. D-6-63-000-374).

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 6
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-06 19:41:34
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Neubaukirche (Wikipedia, CC3, FlachWerk)

Fig. 11. Neubaukirche (Wikipedia, CC3, FlachWerk)



The Neubaukirche was a typical Astronomical Tower which can be compared with the Baroque Tower Observatories in 18th century like Mannheim, the Clementinum in Prague or in Italy the "Specola" in Bologna and Padova.

 

Threats or potential threats 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-02 21:24:11
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no threats

 

Present use 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 5
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-16 14:06:00
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Neubaukirche, interior room, wood engraving, 1880

Fig. 12. Neubaukirche, interior room, wood engraving, 1880 (Wikipedia)


The Neubaukirche is used as University church.


University Seal (1583) (Wikipedia)

Fig. 12. University Seal (1583) (Wikipedia)

 

Astronomical relevance today 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 11
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-01 13:00:32
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The Neubaukirche was severely damaged in WWII (1945), and was no longer used for astronomy since 1928.
There were more observatories founded in Würzburg:
 

New University Observatory (1928)



New Observatory on the roof of the new university building (1928--1945). This observatory was destroyed in 1945.



"Neumann-Kanzel" or "Belvedere" (1961)



Fig. 13a. "Neumann-Kanzel" or "Belvedere" (1961), Würzburg (Photo: Christian Lorey)


Fig. 13b. "Neumann-Kanzel" or "Belvedere" (1961), Würzburg (Photo: Christian Lorey)



Intermediate Observatory (Notsternwarte) on the "Neumann-Kanzel" (pulpit) or "Belvedere" (1961),
Hof Oberfrankfurt (dwelling house of Balthasar Neumann), Franziskanergasse - initiated by Otto Volk (1892--1989)

 

University Observatory Keesburg (1966)

University Observatory (IAU Observatory Code 028) in Johannes-Kepler-School in Keesburg quarter (1966 to 1990) - initiated by Otto Volk - since 1990 Public Observatory (An der Sternwarte, Johannes-Kepler-Straße, 97074 Würzburg)

Johannes-Kepler-School Observatory (1966), Würzbu

Fig. 14a. Johannes-Kepler-School Observatory (1966), Würzburg-Keesburg, since 1990 Public Observatory (Photo: Christian Lorey)


Johannes-Kepler-School Observatory (1966), Würzbu

Fig. 14b. Johannes-Kepler-School Observatory (1966), Würzburg-Keesburg, since 1990 Public Observatory (Photo: Christian Lorey)


 


 

Hans-Haffner-Observatory Hettstadt (2009)

Hans-Haffner-Observatory in Hettstadt (Mädelhofer Weg 4, 97265 Hettstadt) of the Friedrich-Koenig-Gymnasium -- School and University Observatory (since 2016) named after Hans Haffner (1912--1977), Chair of Astronomy from 1967 to 1977.
50-cm-Cassegrain Reflector / Astrograph (2012) and
3-m-Radiotelescope (2016) -- 2013 Robert-Bosch-Stiftung grant for the project  "Schule trifft Wissenschaft" (School meets Science).

Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwis

Fig. 15a. Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwissenschaftliches Labor für Schüler am FKG e.V.)


Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwis

Fig. 15b. Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwissenschaftliches Labor für Schüler am FKG e.V.)


Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwis

Fig. 15c. Haffner Observatory, Würzburg-Hettstadt (Naturwissenschaftliches Labor für Schüler am FKG e.V.)



 

Chair for Astronomy, Hubland Campus



Chair for Astronomy (Lehrstuhl für Astronomie) in the University of Würzburg, (Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg) - without a dome.



Chair for Astronomy, University of Würzburg, 

Fig. 16. Chair for Astronomy, University of Würzburg,  Hubland Campus (Photo: Christian Lorey)

 

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 5
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-11 14:36:59
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt


  • Baumgart, Peter (Hg.): Vierhundert Jahre Universität Würzburg. Eine Festschrift. Neustadt an der Aisch 1982.

  • Baumgart, Peter (Hg.): Lebensbilder bedeutenderWürzburger Professoren. (= Quellen und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Universität Würzburg 8). Neustadt an der Aisch: Degener 1995.

  • Buonanno, Roberto: The stars of Galilei and the universal knowledge of Athanasius Kircher. New York: Springer (Astrophysics and Space Science Library. Band 399) 2014.

  • Freeden, Max H. von: Die Würzburger Universitätskirche. Geschichte, Schicksal und Zukunft der "Neubaukirche". Erweiterter Sonderdruck aus "Würzburg - heute", Heft 10 (1970). Würzburg: Verlag Stürtz 1971.

  • Friedrich, Markus: Die Jesuiten. Aufstieg, Niedergang, Neubeginn. München, Berlin, Zürich: Piper 2016.

  • Helm, Reinhardt: Die Würzburger Universitätskirche 1583--1973. Zur Geschichte des Baues und seiner Ausstattung. In: Quellen und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Universität Würzburg, Band 5. Neustadt an der Aisch 1976.

  • Henck, Herbert: Planetenmaschinen. Eine Bestandsaufnahme der Schriften zu vier fränkischen Planetenmaschinen des 18. Jahrhunderts aus dem Kreis um Johann Georg Neßtfell unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Beiträge von Johann Ludwig Fricker und Johann Zick. Mit einer Bibliographie zu Johann Georg Neßtfell. In: Blätter für Württembergische Kirchengeschichte 79 (1980), S. 62--139.

  • Hess, Wilhelm: Johann Georg Neßtfell - Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kunsthandwerks und der physikalischen Technik des XVIII. Jahrhunderts in den ehemaligen Hochstiften Würzburg und Bamberg. Straßburg:  
    Heitz & Mündel (Studien zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte; Heft 98) 1908.

  • Kangro, H.: "Kircher, Athanasius." In: Dictionary of Scientific Biography X, 1974, S. 374--379.

  • Krafft, Fritz: "Kircher, Athanasius." In: Neue Deutsche Biographie 11 (1977), S. 641-645.

  • Longo, Lucia: Antonio Petrini. Ein Barockarchitekt in Franken.  München, Zürich: Schnell & Steiner 1985, S. 49 ff.

  • Neßtfell, Johann Georg: Kurz-gefaßte, doch gründliche Beschreibung der -- von mir Johann Georg Neßtfell erfunden -- und verfertigten accuraten Copernicanischen Planeten-Machine: Nebst einer Erklärung des vielfältigen Gebrauches, und Nutzens derselben In der Astronomie, Geographie, und Chronologie. Bamberg: Gertner 1761.

  • Reindl, Maria: Lehre und Forschung in Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften, insbesondere Astronomie, an der Universität Würzburg von der Gründung bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts.  Würzburg (Beiheft 1 zu Quellen und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Universität Würzburg) 1966.

  • Sangl, Sigrid: Neßtfell, Johann Georg. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie 19 (1999), p. 77 f.

  • Seelig, Lorenz: Die Würzburger Planetenmaschine Johann Georg Neßtfells: 1755--1761; ein Meisterwerk des wissenschaftlichen Uhrenbaus. Studioausstellung im Bayerischen Nationalmuseum München, 19. Oktober 1988 bis 8. Januar 1989. Passau 1988.

  • Süß, Peter A.: Kleine Geschichte der Würzburger Julius-Maximilians-Universität. Würzburg: Ferdinand Schöningh 2002.

  • Volk, Otto: Mathematik, Astronomie und Physik in der Vergangenheit der Universität Würzburg. In: Baumgart, Peter (Hg.): 400 Jahre Universität Würzburg. Eine Festschrift. Neustadt an der Aisch 1982.

  • Weis, Michael: Johann Georg Neßtfell -- Hofschreiner des Grafen Rudolf Franz Erwein von Schönborn. In: Würzburg (Mainfränkische Studien; Band 55) 1994.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Venustransit-Expeditionen - Instrumente, Beobachtung, Auswertung. In: Wolfschmidt, Gudrun (Hg.): Sonne, Mond und Sterne - Meilensteine der Astronomiegeschichte. Zum 100jährigen Jubiläum der Hamburger Sternwarte in Bergedorf. Hamburg: tredition (Nuncius Hamburgensis; Band 29) 2013, S. 290--317.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Von Romanus bis Röntgen -- Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften in Würzburg. In: Wolfschmidt, Gudrun (ed.): Astronomy in New Wavelengths -- Astronomie in neuen Wellenlängen. Hamburg: tredition (Nuncius Hamburgensis; Band 12) 2021.

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 206
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 7
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-08-11 16:36:08
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt


 

 

 

  • PrintPrint contents of 'Description' tab
    (opens in a new window)
  • Theme

    Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century