Hamburger Sternwarte

Hamburg-Bergedorf Observatory
Bdstern 1.jpg
OrganizationUniversity of Hamburg
Observatory code 029 Edit this on Wikidata
LocationBergedorf, Hamburg, Germany
Coordinates53°28′48″N 10°14′28″E / 53.480°N 10.241°E / 53.480; 10.241Coordinates: 53°28′48″N 10°14′28″E / 53.480°N 10.241°E / 53.480; 10.241
Established1909 (1802)
Hamburg Observatory is located in Germany
Hamburg Observatory
Location of Hamburg-Bergedorf Observatory
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Hamburg Observatory (German: Hamburger Sternwarte) is an astronomical observatory located in the Bergedorf borough of the city of Hamburg in northern Germany. It is owned and operated by the University of Hamburg, Germany since 1968, although it was founded in 1825 by the City of Hamburg and moved to its present location in 1912. It has operated telescopes at Bergedorf, at two previous locations in Hamburg, at other observatories around the world, and it has also supported space missions.

The largest near-Earth object was discovered at this Observatory by German astronomer Walter Baade at the Bergedorf Observatory in Hamburg on 23 October 1924.[1][2] That asteroid, 1036 Ganymed is about 20 miles (35 km) in diameter.[3]

The Hamburg 1-meter reflector telescope (first light 1911) was one of the biggest telescopes in Europe at that time, and by some measures the fourth largest in the World.[4][5] The Observatory also has an old style Great Refractor (a Großen Refraktor), a long telescope with a lens (60 cm/~23.6 in aperture) with a tube focal length of 9 meters (~10 yards), and there is also a smaller one from the 19th century that has survived.[4] Another historical item of significance is the first and original Schmidt telescope, a type noted for its wide-field views.[4]

Among its achievements, the director of the Observatory won the 1854 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for an 1852 star catalog.[6]


The 1-meter Reflector, the biggest telescope by aperture in Germany for many years, and one of the top largest in 1911

Stintfang (1802–1811)[]

The precursor of Hamburg Observatory was a quasi-private observatory by Johann Georg Repsold built in 1802, originally located at the Stintfang in Hamburg.[7] It was built in the city with permission of the Congress.[6] It started in 1803, and had a meridian circle built by Repsold .[8][6] However, it was destroyed in 1811 by a war. Repsold, Reinke, and J.C. von Hess submitted a proposal to Hamburg for city observatory that same year, to rebuild.

Millerntor (1825–1906)[]

Funding for a new Observatory was approved in August 1821, on the condition J. G. Repsold built the instruments. The new observatory was completed in 1825 next to the Millerntor. However, in 1830 Repsold died while fighting a fire (he was also a Hamburg fireman) and the City of Hamburg voted to take over and continue running the observatory in 1833.[9] First director became Charles Rümker who had accompanied Thomas Brisbane to build the first Australian observatory at Parramatta.[10] Christian August Friedrich Peters became assistant director in 1834. In 1856 Rümker's son George became director of the observatory.

In 1854 Carl Rumaker won the Gold Medal from the Royal Society for year, for his 1852 Star catalog, which had the positions of 12000 stars.[6]

In 1876 funding was received for 'The Equatorial', a 27 cm (11 in) refractor; it was later moved to Bergedorf.

After the move to Bergedorf, the site was partially demolished and rebuilt into the Museum of Hamburg History (Hamburgmuseum / Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte).

Bergedorf (1912–present)[]

The 1 m-Spiegel, a 1-meter reflecting telescope at Bergedorf Observatory

Because of the increasing light pollution, in 1906 it was decided to move the observatory to Bergedorf. In 1909 the first instruments were moved there, and in 1912 the new observatory was officially dedicated.

One of the overall design elements of Bergeforf, is that each instrument was placed in its own building, rather than integrated in one large building.[11]

Two new instruments for the Bergedorf location were the 60 cm (~23.6 inch) aperture Great Refractor by Reposold, and Meridian Circle.[12] One unique feature of Hamburg Great Refractor is an Iris control that allows the aperture to be adjusted from 5 to 60 cm.[13] Two lens were produced by Steinheil, one for photography and another for visual observing, both delivered in the early 1910s.[13]

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) was founded at Bergedorf in 1962. That organization put a lot telescopes in the southern hemisphere, which is not as viewable from northern part of Earth.

The Hamburg 1 m Reflector (39″/100 cm objective aperture) was the world's fourth largest reflector when it began operations in 1911.[14] Catalogs include the AGK3-Sternkatalog (completed over 1956-1964)

In 1968 the observatory became part of Hamburg University.[15] In 1979 a small museum to Bernard Schmidt was inaugurated.[8] In 2012, 100 years at Bergedorf was celebrated.[16]

In 2019, the Great Refractor building was re-open in June after it was modernized.[17]

1-meter reflector[]

The 1 meter reflector at Hamburg Observatory was the largest by aperture in Germany, and one of the largest in Europe, and was also among the largest telescopes of any type in the World at that time.

Largest telescopes (all types) in 1911)
Name/Observatory Aperture
cm (in)
Type Location Extant or Active
Harvard 60-inch Reflector[18] 1.524 m (60″) reflector – glass Harvard College Observatory, USA 1905–1931
Hale 60-Inch Telescope 1.524 m (60″) reflector – glass Mt. Wilson Observatory; California 1908
Great Melbourne Telescope[19] 122 cm(48″) reflector – metal Melbourne Observatory, Australia 1878
Yerkes Observatory[20] 102 cm (40″) achromat Williams Bay, Wisconsin, USA 1897-2018
Hamburg 1 Meter Reflector 100 cm (39.37″) reflector – glass Hamburg, Germany 1911
James Lick telescope, Lick Observatory 91 cm (36″) achromat Mount Hamilton, California, USA 1888
Crossley Reflector[21] (Lick Observatory) 91.4 cm(36″) reflector – glass Mount Hamilton, California, USA 1896
Grande Lunette, Paris Observatory 83 cm + 62 cm
(32.67" + 24.40")
achromat x2 Meudon, France 1891
Potsdam Großer Refraktor
Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam
80 cm + 50 cm
achromat x2 Potsdam, Deutsches Kaiserreich 1899
Focault 80 cm, Marseille Observatory[22] 80 cm (31.5") reflector-glass Marseille, France 1862–1965[23]
Grand Lunette Biscoffscheim, Nice Observatory 77 cm (30.3″) achromat Nice, France[24][25] 1886

Note that the prevailing glass mirror technology at this time was silver-coated glass, not vapour-deposited aluminium which did not debut until several decades later. Speculum metal mirror reflected something like 2/3 of the light, and the lens telescopes were popular for their virtues but had enormous and expensive domes due to their long focal length (also they had issues with chromatic aberration that were solved in a different way by reflecting designs).


Saturn through the Lippert telescope in 2005 (CC 2.0 License)
This building housed the Hamburg Meridian Circle, which was used to calculate the local time
Telescopes [26]

Offsite telescopes[]

Location of telescopes at Bergedorf

People of Hamburg Observatory[]

Directors of the Observatory:

Bernhard Schmidt, inventor of the Schmidt camera worked at the Observatory including making telescopes, instruments, and observations starting in 1916. Walter Baade successfully petitioned the Hamburg senate to have Schmidt camera installed in 1937, and it was completed in 1954 after work restarted on in 1951 after being interrupted by WWII. Walter Baade also succeeded in having a Schmidt camera built at Palomar Observatory in California.[32]

In 1928, Kasimir Graff made many observations at Hamburg until he left for the Vienna Observatory.

In 2009, South African pop star, singer and composer Ike Moriz filmed a music video called 'Starry Night'[33] both inside and outside the observatory buildings.[34] It features the Equatorial refractor telescope as well as the library and garden areas.[35] He also sang at the 100th anniversary exhibition 'Vision Sternwarte'.[36]


Due to the difficult economic situation of the observatory, the "Förderverein Hamburger Sternwarte e.V." was founded in 1998.[37] The goals of the association are primarily to preserve the buildings and astronomical equipment of the observatory in accordance with the preservation order. In addition, it does public relations work and aims to open up parts of the site to the public in the future. The application for a World Heritage Site, which has been running since 2012, is an important focus of their work.

See also[]


  1. ^ "1036 Ganymed (1924 TD)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  2. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(1036) Ganymed". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 89. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_1037. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.
  3. ^ Browne, Malcolm W. (25 April 1996). "Mathematicians Say Asteroid May Hit Earth in a Million Years". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Telescopes and photographic plates". Hamburg University – Hamburg Observatory. 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  5. ^ Journal for the History of Astronomy. Science History Publications. 2005.
  6. ^ a b c d Anderson, S. R.; Engels, D. (April 2004). "A short history of Hamburg Observatory". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. 114: 78–87. Bibcode:2004JBAA..114...78A. ISSN 0007-0297.
  7. ^ J.G. Repsold, the founder of Hamburg observatory (in German)
  8. ^ a b c "A short history of the Hamburg Observatory—Principal Instruments of Hamburg Observatory". Uni-Hamburg. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Charles Rümker, Erster Sternwartendirektor in Hamburg (in German)
  11. ^ Lockyer, Sir Norman (1911). Nature. Macmillan Journals Limited.
  12. ^ "A SHORT HISTORY OF HAMBURG OBSERVATORY". Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  13. ^ a b "The Hamburg Observatory" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ 100 100 Years of the Observatory Bergedorf
  17. ^ Limited, Alamy. "Stock Photo - Hamburg, Germany. 19th June, 2019. The Great Refractor building was reopened on 19.06.2019 after a phase of modernisation. The observatory has one of the largest telescopes in". Alamy. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  18. ^ "New York Times "NEW HARVARD TELESCOPE.; Sixty-Inch Reflector, Biggest in the World, Being Set Up. "April 6, 1905, Thursday", Page 9". The New York Times. 6 April 1905. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Largest optical telescopes of the world". Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Mt. Hamilton Telescopes: CrossleyTelescope". Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  22. ^ Tobin, William (1987). "Foucault's invention of the silvered-glass reflecting telescope and the history of his 80-cm reflector at the observatoire de Marseille". Vistas in Astronomy. 30 (2): 153–184. Bibcode:1987VA.....30..153T. doi:10.1016/0083-6656(87)90015-8. ISSN 0083-6656.
  23. ^ Gascoigne, S. C. B. (June 1996). "The Great Melbourne Telescope and other 19th-century Reflectors". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. 37: 101. Bibcode:1996QJRAS..37..101G. ISSN 0035-8738.
  24. ^ "1914Obs....37..245H Page 248". Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  25. ^ Roger Hutchins (2008). British University Observatories, 1772-1939. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-7546-3250-4.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Stephanion Observatory, homepage
  28. ^ "Hamburg Observatory". Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Rümker, Christian Carl Ludwig (1788–1862)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  30. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Otto Heckmann
  31. ^ "Nachrufe : Alfred Weigert". Mitteilungen der Astronomischen Gesellschaft Hamburg. 76: 11. 1993. Bibcode:1993MitAG..76...11.. ISSN 0374-1958.
  32. ^ Donald E. Osterbrock; Walter Baade (2001). Walter Baade: A Life in Astrophysics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04936-X.
  33. ^ "Starry Night". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  34. ^ "Ike Moriz". Discogs. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  35. ^ "Bergedorfs Stern in Südafrika". (in German). 16 August 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  36. ^ Hamburg, Hamburger Abendblatt- (13 August 2011). "In die Sterne schauen, Gedichten lauschen und Musik genießen". (in German). Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  37. ^ "Förderverein Hamburger Sternwarte".


External links[]