In collaboration with the
International Astronomical Union


Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Llano del Hato National Astronomical Observatory (CIDA), Mérida, Venezuela

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 13:59:06
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Mérida Astrophysical Observatory, Llano del Hato National Astronomical Observatory (Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato, OHO),
Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA), Venezuela

  • Cagigal Astronomical and Meteorological of Caracas (founded in 1888), G33C+98C, Real del Obsevatorio, Caracas 1030, Districto Federal, Venezuela
  • Cagigal Naval Observatory (since 1961), (10°30’13’’ N 66°55’44’’ W, 1037m)
  • Mérida, University of the Andes, Venezuela station (IAU code 302, not built)

 

Location 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:00:04
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Latitude 70°52’19’’ E, Longitude 8°47’11’’ N, Elevation 3600m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 1
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 13:50:41
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

303

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:01:50
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Caracas Observatory (1888, 1950s)

<i>Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Jua

Fig. 1a. Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Juan Manuel Cagigal in Caracas (1888), 1913--1932 (Wikipedia)

   

<i>Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Jua

Fig. 1b. Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Juan Manuel Cagigal in Caracas (1888), 1933--1955 (Wikipedia)


In Venezuela, in Caracas (1888) and in Mérida observatories were erected in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively.

In 1888, the Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory Juan Manuel Cagigal in Caracas was created by decree of President Juan Pablo Rojas Paul. The observatory was erected on Quintana Hill, later renamed to Cagigal Hill in honor of the astronomer and mathematician, Colonel Juan Manuel Cagigal y Odoardo (1803--1856), founder of mathematical studies in Venezuela.

Maurizio Buscalioni as the first director started with classical astronomy, positional astronomy with meridian circles, timekeeping and meteorology.
Luis Perez Ugueto started seismology, established a meteorological network, and observed Comet Daniel (1908) and Halley’s Comet (1910), in addition the total solar eclipse (1916) at Tucacas, in Falcón state.

Francisco José Duarte (1883--1972), director from

Fig. 2a. Francisco José Duarte (1883--1972), director from 1936 to 1941 (MacTutor)

 

Eduardo Röhl (1891--1953), director from 1941 to

Fig. 2b. Eduardo Röhl (1891--1953), director from 1941 to 1959



Eduardo Röhl’s (1891--1953) major project was the conversion of the Cagigal Observatory into an important astronomical and geophysics observatory.

Röhl proposed the modernization of the observatory to the President of the Republic, Gen. Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1914--2001), and could order some new instruments already in the 1940s. "Dr. Röhl started contacts with several observatories: Otto Heckmann (1901--1983) (Hamburg), Chester Burleigh Watts (1889--1971) (USA), André Danjon (1890--1967) (Paris); his attention was particularly focused on the Observatory of Hamburg-Bergedorf; there, he realized the advances in technology being implemented" (Chalbaud 2009). The contracts for the Modern Cagigal Observatory in Caracas were signed in 1953. Röhl wanted a copy of the architecture of the Observatory Hamburg-Bergedorf.

The instruments for classical astronomy and modern astrophysics were ordered in Germany: Large Refractor, Schmidt-type wide-field Telescope, Large Reflector, Double Astrograph, two Zenith Telescopes, Transit instrument, and Meridian Circle were built by Zeiss of Jena and Askania Werke of Berlin respectively. In addition, a Seismological Institute (FUNVISIS) was founded on "Quintana Hill" in 1956 with Dr. Gunther Fielder of Germany as director. The Seismological Museum is now located in this building.

Due to political changes, end of the Military Government (1958), and Röhl’s death (1959), the project was stopped. The delivered instruments were stored and only the meridian circle, a transit instrument and a zenith telescope was installed. Thus, the Cagigal Observatory remained an observatory for classical astronomy.


Observatorio Naval Cagigal (1961), (Wikipedia, CC3

Fig. 3a. Observatorio Naval Cagigal (1961), (Wikipedia, CC3, Veronidae)

             

Observatorio Naval Cagigal (1961), (Wikipedia, CC3

Fig. 3b. Observatorio Naval Cagigal (1961), (Wikipedia, CC3, Veronidae)


Observatorio Naval Cagigal at night, (Wikipedia, C

Fig. 3c. Observatorio Naval Cagigal at night, (Wikipedia, CC3, Veronidae)



The Cagigal Observatory came in 1961 under the custody of the General Command of the Venezuelian Navy. Different disciplines were added: marine sciences, e.g. Nautical Cartography, Oceanography, Hydrography, Maritime Signalling, Maritime Geophysics. The Venezuelan Legal Time Service was incorporated.


Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato, Mérida (1960, 1970s)

Then in 1960, a commission was created, chaired by Francisco J. Duarte, which was in charge of a modernisation project. He decided to build the observatory in the Venezuelan Andes near Mérida.

<i>Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del

Fig. 4a. Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato, Mérida Astrophysical Observatory (1975), Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA)



<i>Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del

Fig. 4b. Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato, Mérida  (CIDA)

                

Domes of <i>Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de

Fig. 4c. Domes of Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato and sundial, Mérida (CIDA)



Due to the mentioned political problems, the Mérida Astrophysical Observatory, University of the Andes (IAU Code 302), was not built.
The next preject, the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato (IAU Code 303), 70km from Mérida, was not started before the 1972.

Finally the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato, Venezuela, one of the highest observatories in the world, was managed by the Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA), and was opened in 1975.

The observatory consists of four domes, each with a telescope(Telescopio Refractor, Telescopio Reflector, Telescopio Camera Smith, Tanque de Aqua CIDA), and a museum, as well as residences for scientists. Because it is near the equator, one can observe both hemispheres.

Jürgen Stock (1923--2004) acted as director from 1973 until 1983.

Jürgen Stock (1923--2004) (Bruzual & Stock, 2

Fig. 5a. Jürgen Stock (1923--2004) (Bruzual & Stock, 2004)



Jürgen Stock got his doctoral degree in 1951 from the University of Hamburg with Otto Heckmann (1901--1983) as thesis supervisor. He worked in observatories in Germany, USA, South Africa, Chile, and Venezuela. In the 1960s, he found the place for Cerro Tololo Observatory (CTIO, AURA), then -- due to the contacts to Heckmann -- ESO was finally built in Chile and not in South Africa. In 1971, Stock moved to Venezuela and "was involved again in the construction of a new astronomical observatory in Llano del Hato, near Mérida, and four years later he became the founding director of the Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA), a position that he held until 1982" (Bruzual & Stock, 2004).

1-m-Schmidt Telescope, Askania of Berlin, Mérida

Fig. 5b. 1-m-Schmidt Telescope, Askania of Berlin, Mérida Observatory, Venezuela (Photo in the Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, 2007, Gudrun Wolfschmidt, Askania-Warte 18 (1961), Heft 57)



21 asteroids were discovered by the National Astronomical Observatory of Llano del Hato, e.g. (9357) Venezuela, (11193) Mérida, (12359) Cajigal, (159776) EduardoRöhl.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 4
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:03:50
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Meridian circle, made by Askania of Berlin (1955)

Fig. 6a. Meridian circle, made by Askania of Berlin (1955) (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)


Zenith telescopes, made by Askania of Berlin (1955

Fig. 6b. Zenith telescopes, made by Askania of Berlin (1955) (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)


50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin

Fig. 7a. 50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)


50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin

Fig. 7b. 50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)


Photo plate holder of the Double astrograph, made

Fig. 7c. Photo plate holder of the Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)



Instruments in Venezuela observatories

  • Meteorologixal instruments
  • Seismograph
  • First Meridian circle (1913)

  • Meridian circle, made by Askania of Berlin (1955)
  • Transit instrument, made by Askania of Berlin (1955)
  • Two Zenith telescopes, made by Askania of Berlin (1955)

  • Double astrograph (twin reflectors of 50cm, optimised to operate one in blue light and the other in red light, and it is used to determine stellar positions and motions with great precision), made by Askania of Berlin (1955)

  • Large Refracting telescope (objective: achromatic doublet with a diameter of 65cm and a focal length of 10.5m), made by Zeiss of Jena (1955)

  • 1-m-Reflecting telescope (objective: primary mirror with a diameter of 1m and a focal length of 5m. The second convex mirror produces an effective focal length of 20m and magnifies the image about 4 times), made by Zeiss of Jena (1955)

  • 1-m-Schmidt telescope (Stock panoramic telescope, a corrector lens of 1m diameter and a spherical concave mirror as objective, focal length of 3m), made by Askania of Berlin (1955)

  • CCD’S9 -- the YIC camera consists of an array of 16 CCD’s of 2048 x 2048 pixels for a grand total of 67 megapixels.


1-m-Schmidt telescope, made by Askania of Berlin (

Fig. 8a. 1-m-Schmidt telescope, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)

          

Path of rays in the Schmidt telescope (1955), (Arc

Fig. 8b. Path of rays in the Schmidt telescope (1955), (Archive of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Wolfschmidt, 2007)


65-cm-Refracting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena

Fig. 9a. 65-cm-Refracting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1955), (Wikipedia, CC2, David Plotzki)

   

65-cm-Refracting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena

Fig. 9b. 65-cm-Refracting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1955), (CIDA)



1-m-Reflecting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1

Fig. 9a. 1-m-Reflecting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1955), (CIDA)


1-m-Reflecting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1

Fig. 9b. 1-m-Reflecting telescope, made by Zeiss of Jena (1955), (CIDA)



50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin

Fig. 9a. 50-cm-Double astrograph, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (CIDA)


1-m-Schmidt telescope, made by Askania of Berlin (

Fig. 9b. 1-m-Schmidt telescope, made by Askania of Berlin (1955), (CIDA)

 

Directors of Cagigal Observatory, Caracas, and Merida Observatory, Venezuela

  • 1888/90 to 1893 -- Maurizio Buscalioni
  • 1894 to 1896 -- Armando Blanco
    1900 to 1936 -- Luis Perez Ugueto (died 1936), vice-director, then director
  • 1931 to 1933 -- Henri Pittier, administrative direction
  • 1936 to 1941 -- Francisco José Duarte (1883--1972)
  • 1941 to 1959 -- Eduardo Röhl (1891--1953)
  • 1960 to 1971 -- Francisco José Duarte (1883--1972)

  • 1971 to 1982 -- Jürgen Stock (1923--2004)
  • ...

 

State of preservation 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:05:39
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The buildings of the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato near Mérida seem to be in good condition.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 5
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:11:46
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Eduardo Röhl intended to build a copy of the Observatory Hamburg-Bergedorf (1912).
The realized observatory consisted of two parts, the classical astronomy in Caracas (1955/60), the astrophysics with four domes and a main building in Mérida (1975). But the buildings were just concrete domes, not such an elaborated architecture like in Hamburg.

On the other hand, the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Llano del Hato (CIDA) near Mérida is a real mountain observatory (like Lick, Mt. Wilson or Mt. Palomar), one of the highest observatories in the world.

Dome of National Astronomical Observatory of Llano

Fig. 10. Dome of National Astronomical Observatory of Llano del Hato near Mérida (1975) (CIDA)

 

Threats or potential threats 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:12:07
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no threats

 

Present use 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:12:37
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The Cagigal Observatory in Caracas is still a Naval Observatory with marine sciences, timekeeping, meteorology and nearly no astronomy.
In the National Astronomical Observatory of Llano del Hato near Mérida, astrophysical research is still done with the four telescopes, in addition CCDs are used.

 

Astronomical relevance today 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:13:05
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The National Astronomical Observatory of Llano del Hato near Mérida is a working research observatory, topics are Solar System, Constellations, Deep Sky Objects.

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:14:20
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

  • Bruzual, Gustavo & M. Jeanette Stock: Orbituary of Jürgen Stock (1923--2004). In: Revista mexicana de astronomía y astrofísica 40 (oct. 2004), no. 2 Ciudad de México,
    http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0185-11012004000200010.

  • Chalbaud, Pedro: The Truncated Modernization (1950-1959): Eduardo Röhl and the Observatories of Cagigal and Hamburg. In: Wolfschmidt: Cultural Heritage of Astronomical Observatories, 2009, p. 84--85.

  • Chalbaud Cardona, Pedro: Attempts to establish an astronomical observatory in the Universidad de los Andes in the last 100 years. In: RevMexAA (Serie de Conferencias) 35 (2009), p. 271--272.

  • Della Prugna, Franco; Stock, Jürgen; Calvet, Nuria & A. Gustavo Bruzual: Astronomía. Caracas: Cuadernos Lagoven 1987.

  • Egret, Daniel & Andre Heck: Carlos Jaschek (1926--1999). In: Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 31 (1999) 1602.
    A French version appeared in the Journal des Astronomes Français 60 (1999), p. 2-3.

  • Hubschmann, Curti: Observatorio Cagigal cien años de historia y de ciencia. Editorial Lagoven, Venezuela 1988.

  • Picar, Antonio Martinez & Henry Salas Ramirez: Historical survey of the national astronomical observatory in Llano del Hato. In: Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference, Roden, The Netherlands, 14-17 September, 2006. Ed. by F. Bettonvil & J. Kac, International Meteor Organization, p. 24--32. 2007pimo.conf...24M

  • Perrine, C.D.: The Total Solar Eclipse of February 3, 1916. In: Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 28 (1916). p. 247.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun (ed.): Cultural Heritage of Astronomical Observatories -- From Classical Astronomy to Modern Astrophysics. Proceedings of International ICOMOS Symposium in Hamburg, October 14--17, 2008. Berlin: hendrik Bäßler-Verlag (International Council on Monuments and Sites, Monuments and Sites XVIII) 2009.

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 14:14:35
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Links to external on-line pictures 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 236
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 1
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2022-10-14 13:50:42
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no information available

 

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

    Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century