Institute for Astrophysics at the University of Göttingen
Friedrich Hund 1st place
37077 Göttingen

Public exhibition: yes
Admission free
Open:  by appointment
Public tours: approx. once a month
Guided tours: by appointment

Contact person:
Dr. Klaus Reinsch
Tel.: +49 551 39-24037

The collection goes back to one of the oldest facilities at Göttingen University, the observatory, founded in 1748. It documents two and a half centuries of scientific history as well as the work of outstanding Göttingen scientists, including Tobias Mayer (1723–1762), Carl Friedrich Gauß (1777–1855) and Karl Schwarzschild (1873–1916). It includes an extensive inventory of objects and instruments from the 17th to 20th centuries that were used for astronomical and geodetic measurements as well as for other scientific investigations at the Göttingen University Observatory.

The basic stock of astronomical equipment came to the University of Göttingen around 1750 from the estate of the Hanover Privy Councilor and Grand Bailiff Joachim Heinrich Freiherr von Bülow (1650–1724).

Over time, additional instruments came to the observatory through donations from private individuals and members of various royal families associated with the Georgia Augusta. Other instruments were commissioned specifically for use in the observatory and were manufactured by respected instrument makers of their time. Among them were various university mechanics from Göttingen. Many names that are still well-known today, such as Bird, Fraunhofer, Gauß or Herschel, are represented by traditional instruments. The institute also keeps a number of memorabilia of Carl Friedrich Gauß, the first director of the new (now historic) observatory, which was completed in 1816. In 2005, the collection moved with the Institute of Astrophysics to the new building of the Faculty of Physics on the university's north campus. Since then, part of the collection has been exhibited in the entrance area and in the library of the Institute of Astrophysics and is therefore publicly accessible to a limited extent.

Klaus Reinsch

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