Institute for Astrophysics

Collection of historical objects at the Institute for Astrophysics

The collection dates back to one of the oldest institutions of Göttingen University, the observatory founded in 1748. It documents two and a half centuries in the history of science and the contributions of outstanding scientists in Göttingen, like e.g. Tobias Mayer (1723-1762), Carl Friedrich Gauß (1777-1855), and Karl Schwarzschild (1873-1916). The collection comprises of numerous objects and instruments from the 17th to the 20th century which have been used for astronomical and geodetical measurements and other scientific studies at the University observatory in Göttingen. Several of the objects have been build by reputable instrument manufactures of their time (e.g. in Göttingen). Many still famous names like Bird, Fraunhofer, Gauß, or Herschel are represented by traditional instruments. In addition the institute preserves a number of items in memorial of Carl Friedrich Gauß, the first director of the new (today historical) observatory completed in 1816. In the year 2005 the collection was moved together with the Institute for Astrophysics to the common new building of the Faculty for Physics on the northern campus of the University.

Exhibition contributions

Wanderausstellung „Tobias Mayer, Mathematiker, Kartograph und Astronom der Aufklärungszeit“, Paulinerkirche, Göttingen, 11.11.2012-13.01.2013

Jubiläumsausstellung „Dinge des Wissens“. Paulinerkirche, Göttingen, 3.6.-7.10.2012

Historische Sternwarten stellen aus – Exhibition within the framework of the international year of astronomy, Historical Observatory, Göttingen, 18.-24.06.2009


Harmut Grosser: Historische Gegenstände an der Universitäts-Sternwarte Göttingen, edited by the academy of sciences in Göttingen, 1998