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28.07.2020

Helsinki University Observatory

The University Observatory of Helsinki hosted the Department of Astronomy at the University of Helsinki in Southern Finland until the end of 2009. It is currently an astronomy centre and a museum for visitors.

The Helsinki Astronomical Observatory was developed in cooperation with Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander and architect Carl Ludwig Engel. The building was completed in 1834. His instruments and astronomical books escaped a great fire in Turku and were then transferred to Helsinki. The observatory was one of the most modern astronomical observatories of its time and served as an example for several European observatories that were later built, especially the Pulkovo Observatory.

A separate telescope tower for astrophotography was built in the garden of the observatory. This building was completed in 1890. It houses a double refractor: two 0.33-meter refractor telescopes mounted together. One of the telescopes is equipped with an eyepiece and the other with a photographic plate.

The observatory is located in the city centre and has not been used since the mid 20th century. Another observatory with a 60-centimetre telescope was built in Metsahovi in Kirkkonummi in the 1970s. Metsähovi Radio Observatory was built around the same time and is a centre for radio astronomy research at Aalto University.

The Astronomy Department was merged with the Physics Department in early 2010, and astronomers moved to Kumpula campus. In 2012, the observatory building was completely renovated and reopened as a museum and tourist centre. The building also houses the amateur astronomical association Ursa .

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