Hamburg-Bergedorf Observatory
Hamburger Sternwarte ( Hamburg Observatory) 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, but also at two previous locations in Hamburg, at other observatories around the world, and also supported space missions.

The precursor of Hamburg observatory was a private observatory by Johann Georg Repsold built in 1802, originally located at the Stintfang in Hamburg. It started in 1803 with a meridian circle built by Repsold in 1908. However, it was destroyed by the french troups in 1811. Repsold, Reinke, and J.C. von Hess submitted a proposal to Hamburg for city observatory that same year, to rebuild. 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. First director became Charles Rümker who har accompanied Thomas Brisbane to build the first australian observatory at Parramatta. Christian August Friedrich Peters became assistant director in 1834. In 1856 Rümker's son George became director of the observatory. In 1876 funding was received by 'The Equatorial' a 27 cm (10.6 inch) refractor (later moved to Bergdorf). After the move to Bergdorf, the site was partially demolished and rebuilt into the Museum of Hamburg History ( Hamburgmuseum / Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte). 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. The European Southern Observatory was founded at Bergdorf in 1962. The Hamburg 1m Reflector (39 in/100cm objective aperture) was the world's fourth largest reflector when it began operations in 1911. Catalogs include the AGK3-Sternkatalog (completed over 1956-1964) In 1968 the observatory became part of Hamburg University. In 1979 a small museum to Bernard Schmidt was inaugurated.

  • The Great Refractor, a great refractor telescope with an objective diameter (60cm) and focal length (9m). By Repsold, and with optics from Steinheil.
  • The Equatorial, a refractor with aperture of 26cm and focal length. Built in 1870s and moved to Bergedorf.
  • Salvador Mirror, a Cassegrain with 8 m focal length and 40 cm mirror.
  • The Meridian Circle, a meridian circle built in 1907. (by A. Repsold & Söhne)
  • Lippert Telescope, three astrographs refractors on one mount. Built by Carl Zeiss , funded by Eduard Lippert
  • 1 Meter Reflector Telescope, activated in 1911. By Carl Zeiss. The largest telescope in Germany from 1911 to 1920
  • Astrograph, with 8.5cm objective, focal length 2.06m. Built in 1924.
  • Schmidtspiegel, the first Schmidt telescope by Bernhard Schmidt. Now part of a Schmidt Museum
  • Photographic refractor (Zonenastrograph), an instrument funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in 1973. 23 cm diameter aperture and 205.3 cm focal length. It was built by Carl Zeiss Oberkochen.
  • Oskar-Lühning Telescope, s Ritchey-Chretien with 1.20m aperture diameter and a focal length of 15.60m in the Cassegrain focus. Built in 1975 and refurbished as robotic telescope in 2001.
  • A planned large Schmidt telescope was finished in 1954 and moved to Calar Alto Observatory in 1976, with the Oskar-Lühning taking over its spot in the Observatory.
  • Hamburg Robotic Telescope (HRT), tested in 2002 and online in 2005. by Halfmann Teleskoptechnik
  • In 1968 a 38cm reflector was setup by the Hamburg Observatory at Stephanion Observatory in Greece.
  • The aforementioned Schmidt was moved to Calar Alto Observatory in 1976. Some work was done with data from Effelsberg
  • The HRT telescope is planned to be installed on the Spanish island of Tenerife in the Atlantic Ocean

People of Hamburg Observatory
Directors of the Observatory
  • Johann Georg Repsold (from 1802-1830)
  • Christian Karl Ludwig Rümker (director from 1833-1857)
  • George Rümker (director from 1857-1900)
  • Richard Schorr (1900-1941)
  • Otto Heckmann (1941-1968) 1962 became 1st head of the newly formed European Southern Observatory
  • Alfred Behr (1968 -1979)
  • Co-Director with Behr: Alfred Weigert (1969-1991?)
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 re-started on in 1951 after being interrupted by WWII. Walter Baade also succeeded in having a Schmidt camera built at Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Dr. Kasimir Graf made many observations at Hamburg until he left for the Vienna Observatory in 1928.


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