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Tartu Observatory

The Tartu Observatory (Estonian: Tartu Observatoorium) is the largest astronomical observatory in Estonia. On January 1, 2018, Tartu Observatory joined again to Tartu University, and the observatory is now an institute of the university. It is located on the Tõravere hill, about 20 km south-west of Tartu in Nõo Parish, Tartu County. The old Tartu Observatory located in Tartu city centre, is known internationally for its connection to Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve and the Struve Geodetic Arc, of which it is the first reference point.[1][2][3]

Tartu Observatory
Tartu Observatory logo.svg

Tartu Observatooriumi panoraam.jpg

Tartu obs main b.jpg
Main Building of the Tartu Observatory.
Alternative namesTartu Observatoorium Edit this at Wikidata
OrganizationTartu Observatory
Observatory code 075 Edit this on Wikidata
LocationTõravere, Estonia
Coordinates58°15′57″N 26°27′58″E / 58.26583°N 26.46611°E / 58.26583; 26.46611Coordinates: 58°15′57″N 26°27′58″E / 58.26583°N 26.46611°E / 58.26583; 26.46611
Established1810, 1964 (relocation)
AZT-121.5 m Cassegrain telescope
Zeiss 6000.6 m reflecting telescope
RAITS0.31 m reflecting telescope
Tartu Observatory is located in Estonia
Tartu Observatory
Location of Tartu Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons


The Tartu Observatory was founded at the Imperial University of Dorpat as it was reopened in 1802. The observatory building was completed in 1810 on the Toome hill in Dorpat. The instruments were installed in 1814 by von Struve who subsequently started observations. In 1824, a 9" Fraunhofer refractor arrived, the largest achromatic telescope in the world at the time. When von Struve began assembling his Geodetic Arc in 1816, the doorstep of the observatory became its first point.

In 1946 the renamed Tartu Observatory was separated from the university and subjected to the Estonian Academy of Sciences. The authorities started to look for the new observational base in 1950. A patch of land on the Tõravere hill was assigned for the purpose and in 1958 construction began. By 1963, the new observatory building was completed, part of the astronomers from the old observatory moved in, and the 50 cm reflector telescope had first light. In 1964, an international conference was held and the Tartu Observatory was renamed von Struve Observatory. In 1974 the 1.5 metre telescope become operational. The name of the observatory was reverted to Tartu Observatory in 1995. In 1998, a 0.6 metre reflector and in 2013, a 0.3 metre modern robotic telescope were installed. The old observatory building now mainly serves as a museum and is a part of a public science education centre.

Several notable scientists have been associated with the Tartu Observatory: Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, Johann Heinrich von Mädler, Thomas Clausen, Ernst Julius Öpik, Grigori Kuzmin, Jaan Einasto.


The observatory has three main telescopes. The 1.5 metre Cassegrain reflector, which is the largest optical telescope in Northern Europe, is used for spectroscopic observations. The second and third telescope are a 0.6 metre and 0.31 metre reflectors for photometric observations. There is also a pitch for a collection of meteorological instruments on the observatory grounds.

Tartu Observatory has also laboratories for accurate radiometric calibration for near-UV to shortwave infrared radiation; vacuum-, vibration-, temperature, and electromagnetic compatibility testing.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Struve Geodetic Arc". UNESCO World Heritage List. 2005. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-05-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Viik, Tõnu (27–29 September 2004). "How F.G.W. Struve started his ambitious project?" (PDF). Retrieved 10 July 2019.CS1 maint: date format (link)

External linksEdit