Vienna Observatory the largest an astronomical observatory in Vienna

The Vienna Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Vienna, Austria. It is part of the University of Vienna. The first observatory was built in 1753−1754 on the roof of one of the university buildings.

A new observatory was built between 1874 and 1879, and was finally inaugurated by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1883. The main dome houses a refractor with a diameter of 68 centimetres (27 in) and a focal length of 10.5 metres (34 ft) built by the Grubb Telescope Company. At that time, it was the world’s largest refracting telescope.

Vienna Observatory

Take in a lecture and a tour of the historic observatory and, weather permitting, an astronomical survey of the skies with the big, over 100 year-old telescope.


Phone: +43 1 427 751 801
Address: Türkenschanzstraße 17
Directions: 40, 41, Aumannplatz
37A, 40A, Gregor-Mendel-Straße
Website: astro.​univie.​ac.​at/
Bus: 37A, 40A (Gregor-Mendel-Straße); N41 (Weinhauser Gasse)
Tram: 9 (Gersthof); 40, 41 (Weinhauser Gasse)
Train: Wien Gersthof


A new Vienna Observatory was built between 1874 and 1879, and was finally inaugurated by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1883. The main dome houses a refractor with a diameter of 68 cm and a focal length of 10.5m built by the Grubb Telescope Company. At that time, it was the world’s largest refracting telescope.

refracting telescope

History of Vienna Observatory

The Kuffner Observatory was built in a time of scientific advances and intellectual curiosity at the end of the 19th century.

Like so many institutions in those days, the observatory was financed by a wealthy benefactor and enthusiastic amateur astronomer — in this case Moriz von Kuffner, owner of the famous Ottakringer brewery.

He had been approached by the astronomer Norbert Herz who, when the building was finished in 1886, became the director of the observatory and quickly established it as a respected location for astronomical research and knowledge, which was continued through the turn of the century.

However, after the First World War the Kuffner Observatory fell on very hard times. It was closed from 1917 through to 1928, handed over to the Academy of Sciences and then returned, and subsequently taken over by the National Socialists when Kuffner, an Austrian Jew, was forced to emigrate to Switzerland in 1938 where he died shortly afterwards.

The Kuffner Observatory was reopened during the post-war occupation and restored to the Kuffner family ownership in 1950. The family however quickly sold the observatory and it was used as an educational centre.

The observatory was finally taken over by the Vienna authorities, who now run it as a separate business — Astronomie Wien — as part of the further education process. Astronomie Wien also manages the Urania Observatory on the banks of the Danube and the Planetarium at the Volksprater.

The observatory itself consists of two domes. The main building’s dome holds the original Great Refractor, which still delivers beautiful images of celestial objects. In the other dome there is a heliometer, one of the biggest of its kind in the world, installed in 1896 to measure the distances from our planet to the stars.

The Directors of the Vienna Observatory

  • Maximilian Hell, 1756−1792
  • Franz de Paula Triesnecker, 1792−1817
  • Johann Josef von Littrow, 1819−1840
  • Karl Ludwig von Littrow, 1842−1877
  • Edmund Weiss, 1877−1908
  • Kasimir Graff, 1928−1938
  • Bruno Thüring, 1940−1945
  • Kasimir Graff, 1945−1949
  • Josef Hopmann, 1951−1962
  • Josef Meurers, 1962−1979
  • Karl Rakos, 1979−1981
  • Werner Tscharnuter, 1981−1984
  • Michel Breger, 1984−1986
  • Paul Jackson, 1986−1994
  • Michel Breger, 1994−2005
  • Gerhard Hensler, 2006−2009
  • Franz Kerschbaum, 2009-…

Guest visitors of the Vienna Observatory

  1. We are told the history, the way former astronomers worked with old and clever tools. At the end, we can watch some stars in one of the telescopes.
  2. She is beautiful and is located in ottakring, Vienna’s suburbs hisorischen. In the frameyou should look necessarily by a walk in the nearby Vienna Woods.
  3. First, there was a short lecture on «Red giants and black holes» was well understoodexplained that even a layman understands it. On the basis of the cloudy sky, we couldsee only the Saturn and a few of its moons. Travel with public transport in the city of Vienna is doable but something to staenlich. You could park on the street at the Observatory. Again in clear skies. We had reserved though, however this was notnecessary, because we were only 6 people. But I think that it is better under a clearsky. You can book easily online.
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