On its 200th Anniversary Tartu Old Observatory Opens Doors as a Museum

On Wednesday, April 27th, Tartu Old Observatory celebrates its 200th anniversary and opens doors as a modern museum to visitors of all ages. The opening day offers a retrospective spectacle as well as planetarium shows and several exciting workshops. In the evening, the university symphony orchestra and the group Mahavok will give an open-air concert.

From April 28th the museum will be open for all visitors from Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Reet Mägi, the project manager of Tartu Old Observatory is glad that all the preparations are done and the museum can be festively opened to all visitors. „In its heyday, the observatory was one of the most advanced astronomical research facilities in the world and now, through the museum, it will again be an inspiration and source of knowledge to guests of all age groups,“ Reet Mägi explained the importance of the Old Observatory.

According to Kristjan Haller, the vice rector for research of the University of Tartu, Tartu Old Observatory is a prominent object in the history of science, probably the most prominent amongst Estonian historical monuments. „The importance of Tartu Old Observatory is not merely limited by the accomplishments in the fields of astronomy and geodesy, it must be seen as part of the university, as part of the ever searching spirited, academically minded environment it lies in. This environment has supported world-class achievements in astronomy and geodesy and vice versa. It is not too much to say that the Old Observatory is the birthplace of physics- and biotechnology in Estonia,“ said Haller.

The celebrations of the anniversary begin at 11 a.m. on April 27th, when the compedius book on Tartu Old Observatory will be presented. At 1.15 p.m., a ceremonial meeting will be held, where among others, the ex-director of Pulkovo Observatory, Professor Viktor Abalakin will give a speech. A video-welcome will be sent by the European Space Agency director general Jean-Jacques Dordain. The opening ceremony of the observatory is at 3 p.m. with exciting workshops on planets, star-maps, planispheres, levelling, GPS-measuring, bottle racker, student satellite, modern geodetic instruments and more! At 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., the Symphony Orchestra of the University of Tartu and the group Mahavok will give an open-air concert. When the sky is clear, a star-observation night will be organised.

From April 28th to 29th, an international astronomy conference „Expanding the Universe“ will bring together participants across the globe.

For a more detailed programme of the opening events, see

For information on and registration to the astronomy conference

In its heyday, the Old Observatory of the University of Tartu was one of the most advanced astronomical research facilities in the world. As such, it is without doubt one of the crown jewels in the history of Estonia’s science. In 1824, the observatory acquired a Fraunhofer refractor, which at the time was the best and the largest dioptric telescope in the world. Research conducted at the Old Observatory has led to many discoveries that have changed our understanding of the Earth and the universe. The scientists working here have focused on geodesy, astronomy, seismology, time measurement, theoretical and experimental physics. The observatory’s place in the world’s history of science was cemented by its long-time head Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, who in 1835 was the first to measure the distance of a star from the Earth and who determined the position of thousands of double stars.

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