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Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Leipzig Observatory, Leipzig-Johannisthal, Germany

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2022-10-18 13:48:08
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

New Leipzig Observatory Leipzig, Stephanstrasse 3 (near Sternwartstrasse), Leipzig-Johannisthal, Germany
(old observatory Pleissenburg 1790)

 

Location 
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    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Latitude 51.333791° N, longitude 12.388297° E, Elevation ...m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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534

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
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    Date: 2022-10-18 15:00:33
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Observatory in the tower of the Pleißenburg castl

Fig. 1a. Observatory in the tower of the Pleißenburg castle (1790), (Wikipedia, CC, H.P. Haack)



Observatory in the tower of the Pleißenburg castle, 1790 to 1861

The first efforts to create a university "observatorii mathematici" can be documented for the year 1711. However, this proposal by the Faculty of Arts was not implemented until the end of the 18th century. The first university observatory was built in 1787/1790 by converting the tower of the Pleißenburg castle according to a design by the Leipzig mathematicians Georg Heinrich Borz (1714--1799) and Carl Friedrich Hindenburg (1741--1808). The classical round building of the observatory, which was inaugurated on 3 February 1794 as the upper end of the castle tower, was designed by the architect and building director of the city of Leipzig Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe (1746--1816). The building had been established with electoral (German: kurfürstlich) funds, and handed over to the university.

However, the foundation of the telescope pier did not meet later requirements. This first observatory was located on the tower of the medieval Pleißenburg castle until 1861. Its equipment at the time included "several excellent instruments, such as a 17-inch circle and a mirror sextant by Troughton, a pendulum clock by Wulliamy, achromats by Cary and Barge, globes." The institution received a valuable enrichment in 1803 through a generous donation by the Electoral Saxon envoy in London, Hans Count Moritz von Brühl (1736--1811), who "donated a large part of his astronomical books and instruments from two observatories he owned in England."

The instrumental equipment included a "six-foot, parallactically mounted refractor from the Optical Institute of Utzschneider and Fraunhofer" and a "Gaussian apparatus for observing magnetic declination" (1834). In 1837, the heirs of Baron von Uckermann donated to the university a "four-foot refractor from the Optical Institute in Munich, mounted on a tripod with horizontal and vertical movement". An "excellent theodolite by Repsold, which has been used especially for determining the noon line of the magnetic observatory", was acquired in 1846. In addition, in 1848, a chronometer by Kessels and "an excellent comet finder by Pistor and Martins in Berlin" were purchased.

Until 1848, the observatory was headed by an observer who was assisted by two assistants (until 1815, then only one). The staff also included a warden (since 1842: Castellan). In 1848, the position of assistant was changed to that of a second observatory director; the former observatory director was then appointed director of the observatory.

Observatory in the tower of the Pleißenburg castl

Fig. 1b. Observatory in the tower of the Pleißenburg castle (1790), demolished in 1861 (Wikipedia, CC, Hermann Walter)



In 1861, the observatory was closed after it could no longer fulfil its original purpose due to the dense building development and the new observatory in Johannistal was opened as a replacement. The Pleißenburg was demolished together with the old observatory in 1897 to make room for Leipzig’s New Town Hall. The foundations of the old castle tower were used for the construction of the new town hall tower.

A Leipzig observatory existed from 1794 as an institution of the university successively at two locations in Leipzig.


New Leipzig Observatory (1861), seen from North, t

Fig. 2. New Leipzig Observatory (1861), seen from North, the director’s villa is to the right (Wikipedia, CC)



New Observatory in Leipzig-Johannisthal, 1861 to 1943

The new observatory in Johannistal, opened in the same year, when Pleissenburg was closed (1861).

There were plans for a new building as early as 1857. After the land had been made available by the city for the university on favourable terms, construction began in 1860. The new university observatory in Leipzig was built in 1860/1861 on the western edge of the Johannistal on what is now the site of Stephanstraße No. 3 and opened on 8 November 1861, designed by the architect Albert Geutebrück (1801--1868).

Geutebrück’s design was also used to build the residence for the director Karl Christian Bruhns (1830--1881), which stood directly next to the observatory, and the Meridian Room, and was connected to it via a corridor; an auditorium was integrated. The two-storey building in the classicist style with a tympanum above the central risalit was the official residence of the director of the observatory.

The observatory contained a library and the so-called "Meridian Room", which also housed a collection of astronomical instruments. Remarkable for the time was the construction of the dome, which was mounted on spheres and could be rotated in all directions. In addition, there was a telescope with a focal length of 12 feet (about 350cm) and a lens of 8-inches (about 19cm). Along the dome, a platform that could be walked on all around served to set up mobile instruments for observing the heavens.

New Leipzig Observatory, seen from South, 1909 (Br

Fig. 3a. New Leipzig Observatory, seen from South, 1909 (Bruns 1909, II)


New Leipzig Observatory, layout (Bruns 1909)

Fig. 3b. New Leipzig Observatory, layout (Bruns 1909)



New Leipzig Observatory (1861), (ETHBIB, Bildarchi

Fig. 3c. New Leipzig Observatory (1861), (ETHBIB, Bildarchiv, Ans 02775-138, PL 3341)

       

New Leipzig Observatory, layout (Bruns 1909)

Fig. 3d. New Leipzig Observatory, layout (Bruns 1909)



In 1866, a second dome for astrophysics was added to the facility, which was under the supervision of the Professor for Astrophysics  Karl Friedrich Zöllner (1834--1882). In addition a second meridian room, and a meteorological station were added, and in 1886, a tower.

 

Meteorological Tower of Leipzig Observatory with a

Fig. 3e. Meteorological Tower of Leipzig Observatory with an astronomical dome, added in 1886, (postcard 1893), (Geschichte der Universitäts-Sternwarte)



In 1881/82, the meteorological station was converted for astronomical purposes. The resulting tower house was put into operation in January 1886 and was mainly used to set up smaller instruments. As early as 1882, a clock cellar and a room for the chronographs had been created in the main building. The Meridian Hall was also renovated in 1893.

The Leipzig Observatory in Johannistal continued to operate on a makeshift basis after being partially destroyed in the heavy air raid of 4 December 1943, but was finally closed in 1956.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2022-10-18 16:52:57
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Meridian circle of Leipzig Observatory, made by Pi

Fig. 4a. Meridian circle of Leipzig Observatory, made by Pistor & Martins of Berlin (1866), 1900 (Wikipedia, CC, Hermann Walter)

   

Heliometer of Leipzig Observatory (Bruns 1909, IV)

Fig. 4b. Heliometer of Leipzig Observatory (Bruns 1909, IV)



Instruments of the old and new Observatory Leipzig

  • 17-inch circle and a mirror sextant, made by Troughton of London
  • Globes
  • Pendulum clock by Wulliamy
  • Achromats by Cary and Barge
  • 6-foot, parallactically mounted refractor, made by the the Optical Institute of Utzschneider & Fraunhofer of Munich
  • 4-foot refractor, made by the Optical Institute in Munich (1837), mounted on a tripod, donated by the heirs of Baron von Uckermann
  • Gaussian apparatus for observing magnetic declination (1834)
  • Theodolite, made by Repsold (1846), used for determining the noon line of the magnetic observatory In addition
  • Chronometer, made by Kessels of Altona (1848)
  • Comet finder, made by Pistor & Martins of Berlin

  • 12-foot telescope, made by Steinheil of Munich, mounted as an equatoreal by Pistor & Martins of Berlin (1862) -- replaced by a new refractor in 1890
  • Meridian circle, made by Pistor & Martins of Berlin (in 1866),  installed in the large meridian hall
  • Precision Pendulum Clock Tiede 336 with a rust pendulum (zinc and steel)
  • Pendulum Clock Utzschneider & Fraunhofer with a mercury pendulum
  • 19-cm-Refractor, f=350cm, (1890)
  • Astrophysical collection (lost)


Large Refractor of Leipzig Observatory (1890), 190

Fig. 5a. Large Refractor of Leipzig Observatory (1890), 1900 (Bruns 1909, V)

   

Ocular of the Large Refractor of Leipzig Observato

Fig. 5b. Ocular of the Large Refractor of Leipzig Observatory (Bruns 1909, VI)



Timekeeping and telegraphy (Linienwähler), Leipzi

Fig. 5c. Timekeeping and telegraphy (Linienwähler), Leipzig Observatory (Bruns 1909, III)

   

Observers or Directors of the Leipzig Observatories

  • 1791 to 1809: Christian Friedrich Rüdiger (1760--1809)
  • 1811 to 1816: Carl Brandan Mollweide (1774--1825), he developed the map projection named after him
  • 1816 to 1848: August Ferdinand Möbius (1790--1868); 1848 to 1861 Director of the observatory
  • 1848 to 1857: Heinrich Louis d’Arrest (1822--1875), Co-discoverer of the planet Neptune
  • 1860 to 1861: Karl Christian Bruhns (1830--1881)

  • 1861 to 1881: Karl Christian Bruhns (1830--1881)
  • 1882 to 1919: Heinrich Bruns (1848--1919)
  • 1920 to 1930: Julius Bauschinger (1860--1934)
  • 1930 to 1943: Franz Josef Hopmann (1890--1975),
    cooperators: Werner Schaub of Bonn, Lore Gürich, observing astronomers Hans Naumann and Karl Schiller, and the assistant Josef Weber,
    students Hans-Ullrich Sandig, Konradin Graf Ferrari d’Occhieppo and Bernhard Sticker for colorimetric analyses of binaries.
    In the National Socialist time, Franz Josef Hopmann started research projects on "Germanic astronomy".
    Hopmann planned a new building for the observatory outside of the city of Leipzig. The location was in the vicinity of Weickmann’s geophysical observatory on the Collm near Oschatz.

 

Leipzig Observatory with three domes (Stadtgeschic

Fig. 5d. Leipzig Observatory with three domes (Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig)

  

Starting of Astrophysics in Leipzig University

In 1866, a second dome for astrophysics was added to Leipzig Observatory, which was under the supervision of the Professor for Astrophysics Karl Friedrich Zöllner (1834--1882). He developed the later widespread Zöllner photometer, a compaison photometer. He also introduced the term "astrophysics" in 1861 (Wolfschmidt 1997), including photometry, spectroscopy, photography, and solar physics.

Zöllner photometer, developed in Leipzig Observat

Fig. 6a. Zöllner photometer, developed in Leipzig Observatory (Wikipedia, CC)


Karl Friedrich Zöllner (1834--1882), Professor fo

Fig. 6b. Karl Friedrich Zöllner (1834--1882), Professor for Astrophysics in Leipzig (Wikipedia, CC)


Hermann Carl Vogel (1841--1907), assistant of Karl

Fig. 6c. Hermann Carl Vogel (1841--1907), assistant of Karl Christian Bruhns, 1863 to 1870, astrophysicist in Bothkamp Observatory, 1870 to 1874, then director in Potsdam Astrophysical Observatory, 1874 to 1909 (Wikipedia, CC)

 

State of preservation 
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    Date: 2022-10-18 15:12:21
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The Leipzig Observatory was considerably destroyed in WWII in the heavy air raid of 4 December 1943. In 1956, it had to cease operations completely.
Since 1993, the reconstructed remnant of the observatory building houses the Institute of Meteorology of the Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences at Leipzig University.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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    Date: 2022-10-18 15:16:20
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The new observatory Leipzig (1861) had an octagonal building with the observing tower on the top like e.g. Oxford, UK, or Halle / Saale, and many others.

 

Threats or potential threats 
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The Leipzig Observatory was destroyed in WWII in 1943.

 

Present use 
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The Leipzig Observatory is no longer existing.
A street in Leipzig’s south-eastern suburb (Sternwartenstraße) was named after the new observatory in 1864 and an alleyway in Johannistal (Sternwartenweg) in 1917.

Today there exists still the Leipzig "Institut für Meteorologie".

 

Astronomical relevance today 
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The Leipzig Observatory is no longer existing.

Today there is no astronomical observatory or planetarium in Leipzig. The large planetarium with a Zeiss Modell II, opened in Leipzig Zoo, Pfaffendorfer-Strasse, in May 1926, was also destroyed by bombs. A new small planetarium in the Zoo with a projector Zeiss ZKP 2P, which existed from 1992 to 1996, had to cease operation due to a lack of audience response and summer temperature problems in the dome.

Until about 2002, there was an observatory next to the Bethanienkirche in Schleußig, used by the adult education centre and the Johannes Kepler Gymnasium.

After its closure and the sale of the property at Stieglitzstraße 40 by the city of Leipzig, the two nearest facilities of this kind are the "Juri Gagarin" Eilenburg Observatory, opened in 1965, and the "Schkeuditz Astronomical Centre", which has existed since 1978. Together they form the Nordsachsen Observatory.

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
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  • Beneke, Klaus: Carl Christian Bruhns (22.11.1830 Plön/Holstein -- 25.07.1881 Leipzig). Vom Schlosser in Plön zum Professor der Astronomie in Leipzig.
    http://www.uni-kiel.de/anorg/lagaly/group/klausSchiver/bruhns.pdf

  • Börngen M. & A. Ziemann: Zur Geschichte der meteorologischen Forschung an der Universität Leipzig. In: Wissenschaftliche Mitteilungen aus dem Institut für Meteorologie der Universität Leipzig (2004).

  • Bruhns, Karl: Die Sternwarte. In: Sr. Majestät des Königs Johann von Sachsen Besuch der Universität Leipzig am 4., 5. und 6. August 1857. Nebst einer Darstellung der Anstalten und Sammlungen der Universität. Leipzig: C.L. Hirschfeld 1858, S. 114--118.

  • Bruhns, Karl: Geschichte und Beschreibung der Leipziger Sternwarte. Zur Eröffnung der neuen Sternwarte am 8. November 1861. Leipzig: Voigt & Günther 1861.

  • Bruhns, Carl [Karl]: Die Astronomen auf der Pleißenburg.
    Leipzig: Edelmann 1877/78.

  • Bruns, Heinrich: Die Universitäts-Sternwarte. In: Festschrift zum 500-jährigen Bestehen der Universität Leipzig, Band 4, Teil 2: Die Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Sektion. Leipzig: Hirzel 1909, S. 8-23. https://archive.org/details/p2festschriftzur04leipuoft/page/n7/mode/2up?view=theater

  • Deans, Paul & Andreas Scholl: Zauberwelt in der Kuppel. In: Astronomie heute (2004), H. 10, S. 28-34.

  • Engelmann, Rudolph: Resultate aus Beobachtungen auf der Leipziger Sternwarte. Leipzig: W. Engelmann 1870.

  • Hartung, Birgit: Albert Geutebrück. Baumeister des Klassizismus in Leipzig. Leipzig: Lehmstedt-Verlag 2003, S. 80.

  • Möbius, August Ferdinand: Beobachtungen auf der Königl. Universitäts-Sternwarte zu Leipzig, mit vorausgeschickter Beschreibung der jetzigen Einrichtung dieser Sternwarte.
    Leipzig 1823.

  • Müssigbrodt, Paul; Schmitt, Eduard & Paul Spieker: Medizinische Lehranstalten der Universitäten. Technische Laboratorien und Versuchsanstalten. Sternwarten und andere Observatorien. In: Handbuch der Architektur, Teil 4: Entwerfen, Anlage und Einrichtung der Gebäude; Halbbd. 6: Gebäude für Erziehung, Wissenschaft und Kunst; H. 2: Hochschulen, zugehörige und verwandte Institute. Stuttgart: Kröner (2. Auflage) 1905.

  • Riedel, Horst: Stadtlexikon Leipzig von A bis Z. Leipzig: Pro Leipzig 2005, S. 469 (Planetarium), S. 573 (Observatory).

  • Ilgauds, Hans-Joachim & Gisela Münzel: Die Leipziger Universitätssternwarten auf der Pleißenburg und im Johannistal. In: Astronomische Schulen von Weltruf. Beucha: Sax Verlag 1995.

  • Wolfschmidt, Gudrun: Genese der Astrophysik. Habilitationsschrift, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 1997.

 

Links to external sites 
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Links to external on-line pictures 
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no information available

 

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