Gotha Observatory

Gotha Observatory

Seeberg Observatory
Location Gotha, Germany
Coordinates 50°56′0″N 10°45′0″E / 50.93333°N 10.75000°E / 50.93333; 10.75000Coordinates: 50°56′0″N 10°45′0″E / 50.93333°N 10.75000°E / 50.93333; 10.75000
Established After 1787
Closed 1934
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Gotha Observatory (Seeberg Observatory, Sternwarte Gotha or Seeberg-Sternwarte) was a German astronomical observatory located on Seeberg hill near Gotha, Thuringia, Germany.[1] Initially the observatory was dedicated to astrometry, geodetic and meteorological observation and tracking the time.

The minor planet 1346 Gotha was named after the city of Gotha in recognition of the observatory.[2]


Planning for the observatory began in 1787 by the court astronomer Baron Franz Xaver von Zach, with the financing of Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. It was based upon the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, England. The building was divided into five parts, with the central section holding a revolving dome. There were two wings to provide quarters for the staff.[3]

During Hansen's term, the observatory was dismantled and moved to a less exposed location in Gotha.[3] The observatory was closed in 1934.[4]


Meridian Circle, at Gotha Observatory till 1936

Around 1800, the observatory became an international center for astronomy, being the most modern astronomical institute primarily for its instruments.[5] The instruments came from London, England, the standard place to acquire them in the 18th century.[5][6] These included an eighteen inch quadrant, a two foot transit instrument, three Hadley sextants, an achromatic heliometer, a two foot achromatic refractor, a Gregorian reflector and many clocks.[5]

By the start of the nineteenth century improved instrumentation was acquired:[4] consisting of a theodolite, a different heliometer, new mounting, and three foot meridian circle. No spectroscopy or photography was performed at the observatory and the only astrophysical equipment of the observatory was a Zöllner photometer.[5]


The observatory directors were as follows:[7]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seeberg-Sternwarte Gotha.


  1. Howse, D. (November 1986). "The Greenwich List of Observatories - a World List of Astronomical Observatories Instruments and Clocks - 1670-1850". Journal of the History of Astronomy. 17 (51): 1. Bibcode:1986JHA....17A...1H. see page A29.
  2. Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of minor planet names (5th ed.). Springer. p. 109. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
  3. 1 2 Armitage, A. (1949). "Baron von Zach and his astronomical correspondence". Popular Astronomy. 57: 326332. Bibcode:1949PA.....57..326A.
  4. 1 2 Wolfschmidt, Gudrun (1998). "Gotha - the instruments of the observatory". Acta Historica Astronomiae. 3: 8990. Bibcode:1998AcHA....3...89W.
  5. 1 2 3 4 olfschmidt, Gudrun (2005). "Gotha - the instruments of the observatory". Acta Historica Astronomiae. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  6. Barton, William (1813). Memoirs of the Life of David Rittenhouse. E. Parker. p. 130. ISBN 1-146-88042-1.
  7. Taylor, Marie Hansen; Kiliani, Lilian Bayard Taylor (1905). On two continents: memories of half a century. Doubleday, Page & company. p. 4. ISBN 0-548-98711-4. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  8. 1 2 S., E. C. (1921). "Calendar of Scientific Pioneers". Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 107 (2682): 124. Bibcode:1921Natur.107..124E. doi:10.1038/107124a0. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
  9. Royal Astronomical Society (1897). Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Blackwell Scientific Publications. p. 224.
  10. Macpherson, Hector (1905). Astronomers of to-day and their work. Gall & Inglis. p. 180.
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