Historic telescope of Poland

Z Archiwum historyczne PTMA
Skocz do: nawigacji, wyszukiwania


By Peter Abrahams, Portland, Oregon, USA. telscope@europa.com, abrahams.peter@gmail.com

26 Observatories in historic Poland:

Bialkow, Wasosz. Wroclaw University Bialkow Station.
Borowiec. Astronomical Latitude Station.
Czestochowa. Park Staszyca.
Fort Skala. Fort Skala Station of Jagellonian Observatory.
Gdansk. (Danzig) Jan Heweliusz, Johannes Hevelius.
Gdansk. N.M. Wolf. Natural History Society Observatory, Navigation School Observatory.
Gdansk. High School of St. Peter & St. Paul.
Kalisz. Alexius Sylvius Polonus.
Kraków. Jagellonian University Astronomical Observatory.
Lwow. (Lvov, Lemberg) Observatoryum C.K. Szkoly Polytechnicznej we Lwowie.
Mount Lubomir. Astronomical Station of Kraków Observatory on Mount Lubomir.
Mount Lysina. Station of the National Astronomical Institute (Narodowy Instytut Astronomiczny).
Mount Suhora Observatory, Konkini.
Ostrowik. Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory.
Plonsk. Jan Walery Jedrzejewicz.
Pop Ivan. Warsaw Observatory station.
Poznan. Jesuit College Observatory.
Poznan. Astronomical Observatory of Poznan University (Adam Mickiewicz University).
Torun. Piwnice Astronomical Observatory.
Vilna. (Vilnius, Wilno) University of Wilno. (now in Lithuania).
Warsaw. (Warszawa) Warsaw University Observatory
Warsaw. N. Copernic Observatory of the Free University of Poland. At Piaseczno, near Warsaw.
Warsaw. Observatory of the Institute of Practical Astronomy at the Polytechnical School.
Warsaw. Jedrzejewicz Observatory, Society of the Sciences in Warsaw.
Wroclaw. (Breslau) Wroclaw University Astronomical Observatory.
Wzdow. Adam Ostoja-Ostaszewski.

Note: Listing historic observatories in Poland is challenging. Geographical names, and the language of the regions, have changed several times. Primary source materials are in Polish, Russian, German, and French - and a Polish name rendered in French, and then translated into English, is a very uncertain name. Although much care has been taken with this essay, there is no doubt that errors persist. Assistance with corrections and additions will be appreciated.

BIALKOW (16d 40m E, 51d 29m N)
Wroclaw University Bialkow Station. Prof. E. Schoenberg established this station of Wroclaw U. in 1932, when the area was known as Belkawe, 70 km. north of Wroclaw. Bialkow had a refractor with a 24.7 cm Reinfelder objective in a Repsold mount, used for photometry, photography, and spectral work. In use until 1944, the Bialkow telescope was heavily damaged by warfare and the instruments were lost. Restoration was accomplished in the mid 1950s. A Carl Zeiss Jena, 600mm Cassegrain, was installed in the early 1970s. (Kubiak 1973)

BOROWIEC (17d 4m E, 52d 17m N)
Borowiec Astronomical Latitude Station. Equipped with a zenith telescope, two modern Zeiss transit instruments, and an Askania-Werke gravimeter. The Station includes the Laboratory of Astrometry and Celestial Mechanics, whose astrometric studies include shifts of the poles of the Earth and variation in the revolution of the Earth. Borowiec is one of twelve permanent gravimetric stations worldwide, one of twenty stations in the 'Service des Informations Rapides', and one of thirty stations participating in the International Time Service. (Kubiak 1973)

An observatory at Park Staszyca in 1931 included a 30 cm equatorial reflector (probably made by C. Metler), and an 11 cm Zeiss apochromatic refractor (which survived into the modern era). Director Chanoine B. Metler studied variable stars. (Stroobant 1931)

Fort Skala Observatory, or Nicolaus Copernicus Observatory at Fort Skala. A station of Jagellonian University Observatory, Fort Skala is on a hill 10 km from Kraków, once the site of an Austrian military fort. The observatory was designed by B. Laszczka, with five domes, a clock room, and workshops for optics, mechanics, and electronics. The opening of Fort Skala on 5 May, 1964 was part of the 600th anniversary celebration of Jagellonian U. Telescopes include:
Zeiss Jena 50 cm Cassegrain, f.l. 665 cm, installed in July of 1971, in the north west dome. Both mirror cells are of special design for light weight and low thermal expansion. Used for visual, photographic, and photometric work. Two finder telescopes, a 150 mm Maksutov, f.l. 225 cm; and a 110 mm refractor, f.l. 750mm, with an eyepiece micrometer.
Zeiss Jena 35 cm Maksutov, f.l. 330 cm, installed 1965. A correcting lens for photography gives a focus of 340 cm, a one degree field is obtained on 6.5 x 9 cm plates, or an Exacta or Exa camera is attached. A five degree objective prism of crown glass was supplied. The guide telescope has a 11 cm objective, f.l. 113 cm. A finder telescope magnifies 17 times and gives a 4 degree field. The Maksutov is used for spectroscopy, astrometry, and visual observations.
Fort Skala also possesses a 20 cm refractor with photoelectric photometer, a 12 cm double astrograph, a 7 m radiotelescope for solar astronomy, and a 15 m radiotelescope designed and manufactured at the Observatory.
(Kreiner n.d., Kubiak 1973)

GDANSK (Danzig, Dantzick)
Jan Heweliusz, Johannes Hevelius. (54d 22m N, 18d 29m E)
For his many publications, Jan Heweliusz (1611-1687) used a Latinized name, 'Johannes Hevelius'.
During most of the years of historical interest, the city was 'Danzig', the name since 1945 is Gdansk.
In the mid to late 1600s, Hevelius owned the most advanced astronomical observatory in the world, using instruments that he designed and built to perform research that he self-published. He was not alone: His mentor was Peter Krüger, a teacher of mathematics and astronomy, providing the young Hevelius his lessons in astronomy, sundials, instrument making and engraving. Telescope objectives were fabricated by Hevelius and 'Hecker' (Howse 1986, citing A. Lisicki, Gdansk.) Hevelius cites 'Titus Livius Burattinus', who made lenses for him. (Prince, 1882, p39). Wolfgang Günther, of Gdansk, built some of the instruments in Hevelius' second observatory. (Lisicki 1992) His second wife, Catherina Elisabetha Koopman, was a full partner in observing.
Telescopes were used by Hevelius to observe and record the images of celestial objects, in particular the moon and the sun. He did not use telescopes to perform his extensive research in positional astronomy, preferring to use open sights - a notch or pinhole. Despite the increased precision of telescopic sights, Hevelius' measurements were accurate for their era. The root mean square error for the separation of 10 bright stars, in observations by Tycho Brahe is 1 min 40 sec, observations by Hevelius show an error of 50 sec, and Flamsteed using a telescopic sight had errors of 40 sec. (Errors due to atmospheric refraction are significant, and these figures are useful only relative to each other.) (North 1970)

Hevelius' first observatory, circa 1644, began with a tower added to a house. Subsequently, a platform was built over three houses (on the corner of Hevelius Street & Korzenna Street), with two observation rooms, which were frames covered with canvas. One of these rooms could be rotated.
Instruments without optics included:
-A wooden double octant of 8 foot radius, for measuring very small angles.
-Several brass portable quadrants of 1 to 2 foot radii; mounted on posts placed in sockets on the platform.
-An azimuth quadrant, partially constructed by Peter Krüger, who left it half finished. Hevelius completed construction in 1635. A wooden post supported the brass & bronze frame of 5 foot radius. A counterweight system allowed easy motion of the 300 kg quadrant.
-A wooden quadrant of 6 foot radius.
-A brass sextant of 3 foot radius; mounted using a sphere in a socket with a securing ring.
-A steel sextant of 4 foot radius.
-A wooden sextant of 6 foot radius, balanced with counterweights.
Some of these were designed after the instruments of Tycho Brahe (Lisicki 1992)

A telescope at the first observatory had a focal length of twelve Danzig feet (1 D.f. = about 11 modern English inches), providing a magnification of about 50. (North 1970) There were probably a number of smaller telescopes as well.
The mounting for Hevelius' larger telescopes was a rope tied mid-tube, the rope then passed through a fork or a pulley on top of a tall mast, so the the height of the telescope could easily be raised to allow observing at the zenith. A 'star diagonal', or 90 degree angle eyepiece, was used to view near the zenith. Tubes were lightweight, made of paper or leather, with stops made of card to baffle stray light. Hevelius' ambitious book on lunar observation, 'Selenographia', with very advanced drawings of the lunar surface, was published in 1647, using these first telescopes.
A helioscope for solar observation was built into a wall, projecting into a dark room. The telescope was mounted mid-tube, in a sphere that was placed in a socket set in the wall, allowing the telescope to swivel and follow the sun. The solar image was projected onto a screen, set in an easel with two screws for fine adjustment of position. As Hevelius made a drawing of the solar disk, an assistant would move the easel, keeping the solar image centered. This floor mounted easel was much more complex in use than a later helioscope, with the easel mounted onto the telescope itself. (North 1970) Many observations of sunspots and a few of eclipses were performed with these helioscopes.
The site included a workshop, and 'Selenographia' describes a lathe for working telescope lenses, and provides instructions for measuring and judging the quality of lenses. However, the wooden instruments were too unstable for consistent and accurate measurements, and the observatory platform was too small for larger telescopes. In 1650, a long term construction project to build a new observatory was begun.

The second Sternenburg, as Hevelius called his observatory, was a platform measuring about 10 by 20 meters, built over the three houses owned by Hevelius. Smaller quadrants and sextants were mounted in the windows of the adjacent attic. Rooms on the platform were built with three wooden walls and a canvas or leather curtain wall that was rolled up for observing. Several of these rooms were wheel mounted and rotatable to face a celestial object.
The instruments of the second observatory are described in Hevelius, 'Machina Coelestis', Volume 1, 1673 (which has not yet been translated into English from Latin):
-A wooden double octant, radius eight or nine feet. This octant and the large sextant could be mounted on a wall or on a vertical post.
-A wooden quadrant, counterbalanced on a stand.
-Three quadrants made of copper, between one and two feet in radius. Vernier scales had thirty one divisions against thirty divisions.
-A quadrant of copper, radius three feet, on a wooden base with four screws to adjust level.
-A quadrant, radius five feet in altitude, radius four feet in azimuth; with ropes and pulleys for adjustment, and screws for fine adjustment.
-An azimuth quadrant by Peter Krüger, five foot radius, retained from the first observatory.
-A horizontal quadrant, 6 foot radius, built in 1659, weighing almost 500 kg but counterbalanced so effectively that a slight wind could move it. The vernier, of copper, had sixty one divisions on one scale and sixty on the other scale. Mercury was used as a leveling device.
-A quadrant of copper, with an iron frame, the divided scale equivalent in width to an octant, radius nine feet, for use by two observers, engraved with portraits of Hipparchus, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe.
-A sextant of copper, radius three feet, for two observers.
-A sextant of copper, radius four feet.
-A brass sextant, four feet in radius, portable, on a wooden tripod, balanced with a system of counterweights.
-A wooden sextant, over six feet in radius, of the design used by Tycho Brahe.
-A brass sextant, with iron frame, over six feet in radius, counterbalanced with ropes, pulleys, and weights.
'Machina Coelestis' describes the design of the sighting devices; Hevelius usually used pinnules (pinholes) in a metal plate. Many of the scales and verniers were covered with gold, to prevent corrosion in the damp sea air of Gdansk. Hevelius devised a screw micrometer allowing measurement to seconds of arc along the vernier; although true accuracy was limited to about one minute of arc, Hevelius believed he achieved a higher degree of precision.

The telescopes at the second observatory are described in 'Machina Coelestis', Volume 1, 1673, chapters 18-24. These included telescopes with focal lengths of 6, 12, 18, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 140, and 150 feet. Earlier and smaller telescopes used round or square tubes. Hevelius developed a lightweight and more open 'tube' structure with a narrow wood frame, and circular rings acting as cross members and as optical stops. Apertures are uncertain but the largest examples were about about eight inches in diameter. These longer telescopes could be disassembled into shorter pieces and were kept in wood chests on the platform. Telescopes were mounted on ropes and pulleys, attched to poles of up to ninety feet in height. Assistants with guy ropes would move the telescope into observing position. The eyepiece was mounted in a frame, and could be moved vertically via pulleys, and horizontally on a surface by turning a screw, thus permitting tracking of an object for perhaps ten minutes. This also helped prevent motion of the eyepiece from wind blowing the telescope. The slightest flexure of the telescope from wind resulted in the view being obscured by the stops. This continual problem was addressed with ropes along the length of the telescope, adjustable in tension. However, for the largest telescope, no solution was found for tube flexure, and the instrument was useless. Lenses for at least some of these instruments were sent by Edmund Halley from England. Hevelius continually tested his optics, but in the absence of adequate theory, he did not understand optical imperfections, and for example measured with a micrometer the diameter of the diffraction pattern of stars, thinking he was measuring stellar diameter. Hevelus adapted Huygens' micrometer to measure planetary diameters, and at the end of his career, used Huygen's clocks to determine time. (North 1970, Lisicki 1992)

In September 1679, a fire destroyed Hevelius' home, observatory, instruments, manufacturing workshop, printing press, unsold books, and most of the library. Rebuilding began soon after, and by August 1681, the third observatory was ready for use; though not as elaborate, with fewer and inferior instruments. Positional astronomy was not pursued, and studies were limited to observations of the surface of celestial bodies.
(Lists of instruments are compiled from North 1970 and Lisicki 1992. Instruments are described in slightly different terms, leading to uncertainty whether one or two instruments are being described.)

GDANSK (18d 28m E, 54d 21m N)
N.M. Wolf, private observatory. An observatory founded 1780-1781 by N.M. Wolf, who managed it until 1784.
From 1785-1813, it was known as the Natural History Society Observatory, and the building was demolished in 1813. Instruments at the site between 1781 and 1813 include a meridian telescope; and probably a mural quadrant, radius 6 feet, by Sisson, London, which was sold in 1828. (Howse 1986, citing A. Lisicki, Gdansk.)
The Natural History Society Observatory was re-inaugurated in 1868 and included with or within the Observatory of the School of Navigation. Director in 1907 was E. Kayser, and instruments included a Steinheil equatorial telescope with photographic camera, several reflectors by Martin & family, a meridian telescope by Fraunhofer, and a heliometer. (Stroobant1907) In 1931, the Director was W. Liek. (Stroobant 1931)

High School of St. Peter & St. Paul. 6 Hanse Place. Founded 1904. In 1931, K. Liebermann was director, and K. Olszewski was assistant. Instruments in 1931 included: Fraunhofer equatorial refractor, 152 mm aperture, 396 cm focal length; mounted with a Zeiss Astro U.V. 60mm camera (chambre photographique), and a Voigtlaender 58 mm camera (chambre photographique). Steinheil equatorial, 76 mm aperture. Graff photometer. Zeiss position micrometer. Toepfer protuberance spectroscope. Zeiss polarization helioscope. Studies included asteroids, comets, Jovian satellites, solar activity, meteors, and time service. (Stroobant 1931)

Alexius Sylvius Polonus (1593 - ca. 1653)
At age 20, Sylvius studied at the Jesuit College in Kalisz, with Charles Malapert (1581-1630), a Belgian poet and mathematician. While traveling from Belgium to his teaching position in Poland, Malapert visited the Jesuit solar observer Christoph Scheiner in Ingolstadt, who provided Malapert with two telescopes to use in Kalisz for solar work. Thus, at the early date of 1613, the first telescopes in Poland were used for the study of sunspots then current among Jesuits. Simon Perovius, a Jesuit, was also involved as a student in these observations, and the three observers worked from 1614 to 1617, publishing their studies, which were very similar to Scheiner's work. Perovius became director of the observatory in 1617, when Sylvius and Malapert moved to Belgium, where they continued solar observation with instruments designed and constructed by Sylvius. In 1634, living in Madrid, Sylvius built the 'Sphere of Archimedes', a weight driven clockwork demonstration of the heliocentric system. By 1649 Sylvius had returned to Poland, where he published, in 1651, a work on calendars, with an appendix that includes a section on his design and construction of scientific instruments. Instruments by Sylvius were reconstructed in modern times (described in: T. Przypkowski. Astronomica w Kaliszu. (Astronomy in Kalisz) Osiemnascie wiekow Kalisza, Vol. 1. Kalisz, 1960. pp155-206.) (Birkenmajer 1967)

KRAKOW (19d 58m E, 50d 4m N)
Jagellonian University Observatory. Obserwatorium Astronomiczne Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego.
Kraków Academy established a Chair of Astronomy in 1406 and a Chair of Astrology in 1459. Copernicus studied at Kraków Academy from 1491 to 1496. This Academy later became Jagellonian University. In 1776, an old Jesuit residence was donated to use as an observatory, and the building survives intact to the present day. Funding for an observatory was provided by the Miechow Abbey in 1784. Jan Sniadecki (1756-1830) organized the planning of the observatory, visiting observatories in France and England, and spending several weeks with William Herschel. The Jesuit building was not suitable for astronomy, since the main observing room had 12 windows, and, according to Sniadecki, was "more suitable for dances than for astronomical observations" (Kubiak 1973); however, observations began from the donated site in October of 1791. The instruments were from the Jesuit College in Poznan: a Canivet, Paris, mural quadrant from 1783 with a radius of 3 feet, and a small refractor.
Sniadecki worked in the Kraków Observatory for 30 years, during the partition of Poland, a very difficult time to accomplish research. As a professor, Sniadecki broke the old tradition of giving lectures in Latin and delivered his lectures in Polish. He left Kraków in 1803, going abroad for three years and then assuming a position in the Wilno Academy. Sniadecki did not leave an assistant or a student to continue research at Kraków, and very little work was done for several decades after his departure, under directors including Leski, Kodesch and J.J. von Littrow.
A meridian circle, aperture 2 inches, and 2 feet in diameter, by Utzschneider, Muenchen, was imported circa 1818.
In 1825, Maxymilian Weisse (1798-1863) moved from Vienna Observatory to became director of Kraków Observatory. New instruments were installed, including: an 8.4cm refractor by Utzschneider, Muenchen; an 11.6 cm Merz and Mahler refractor; in 1828 a transit instrument by Troughton & Simms, London; in 1832 a mural circle, diameter 6 feet, by Troughton & Simms, London; and in 1842, an equatorial refractor, 11.6 cm aperture, 199 cm focal length, by Ertel, Munchen. (Howse 1986)
Assistant observer Jan Kanty Steczkowski performed astrometric research. A star catalogue was published, with positions of 63,000 stars, including some of Friedrich Bessel's observations, and considered a leading star catalogue of its era.
Weisse retired in 1861, succeeded by Franciszek Karlinski (1830-1906), director until circa 1901; followed by Maurycy Pius Rudzki (1862-1916), a theorist who left the instruments unused; and Tadeusz Banachiewicz (1882-1954), director from 1919 until 1954, except during the occupation of WWII.
Banachiewicz had worked at Kazan and Dorpat observatories, moving to Kraków, where he performed visual observations of eclipsing variables and lunar occultations. He expanded the Observatory's studies to include geodesy and geodetic expeditions.
However, the growth of Kraków meant that the observatory was located within the city by the twentieth century.
Banachiewicz was largely responsible for the initiative to establish a National Astronomical Institute, an observatory for all Polish astronomers, leading to the founding in 1922 of Mount Lysina. Banachiewicz organized solar eclipse expeditions, where he performed astrometric studies and a precision determination of the distance between continents. He built a 'chronocinematograph' for interval photography of eclipses, timing the appearance of Baily's beads to measure lunar position and the varying lunar and solar apparent diameter. He was imprisoned during WWII (observatory work continuing under Kurt Walter), returning to act as director until he died in 1954.
Crakow Observatory possessed other instruments at various times. One source (Kubiak 1973) illustrates a 10.5 cm Dollond Gregorian, a 35 cm Maksutow, and a 50 cm Cassegrain. Also described (Kubiak p26) is a 20.3 cm refractor, focal length 285 cm, loaned by Harvard College Observatory during the interwar period, still used in 1973 for variable star observation. A telescope at Crakow of these specifications is cited in Stroobant 1931. However this description is very similar to the Torun Observatory 20 cm refractor, focal length 140 cm, and a mistake is possible.
Other instruments found at Kraków in 1931 were a Grubb-Merz equatorial, 20.3 cm aperture, 248 cm focal length; a Hartmann microphotometer; a Zeiss stellar photometer; and a Repsold plate measuring machine. (Stroobant1931)
German sources refer to this observatory as the K.K. Universitaets-Sternwarte, during its first century.
Stroobant 1931 describes another observatory in Kraków, the Narodowy Instytut Astronomiczny (National Institute of Astronomy) at 27 Kopernika Street, which worked to establish the observing station on Mount Lysina. The director was Th. Banachiewicz, assistants were J. Mergentaler (variable stars), L. Kowalski (precision mechanic), and K. Kordylewski. Instruments included a Zeiss equatorial, 20 cm aperture and 300 cm focal length, with two Zeiss cameras, on loan from Posnan Observatory; and an Ernostar Zeiss astrograph, 142 mm aperture and 28.4 cm focal length. Studies included variable stars. Certainly this observatory was connected to Kraków Academy, since they had the same director, however these are significant instruments which were listed in Stroobant as separate from the Academy.

LWOW (Lvov, Lemberg)
Lwow Technical Academy. Observatoryum C.K. Szkoly Polytechnicznej we Lwowie.
In 1871 the Chair of Geodesy and Spherical Astronomy of the Technical Academy was founded with Dominik Zbrozek (1832-1889) as director. During his tenure, astrometric and meteorological observations were conducted. The year of establishment of the observatory is given as 1877 (Stroobant 1931) and 1880 (Stroobant 1907). After 1889, the Chair of Practical Astronomy was established, directed by Waclaw Laska, from Czechoslovakia, also in charge of the observatory. A 10.9 cm refractor was borrowed from Vienna Observatory, and an 11.2 cm refractor was obtained later. By 1907, M. Ernst was assistant, and instruments included a 70 mm meridian telescope, a 122 mm equatorial telescope, and a 135 mm photographic telescope. (Stroobant 1907) By 1931, the director was L. Grabowski, assisted by J. Ryzner and W. Srpunar. Instruments in 1931 included a meridian telescope by Sartorius, 70 mm aperture and 90 cm focal length; an equatorial refractor by Fraunhofer-Ressel, 122 mm aperture and 162 cm focal length; a photometer by Rosenberg; and an impersonal micrometer. Studies included eclipses, asteroids, comets, lunar occultations, and time service. This observatory was closed in 1945. (Kubiak 1973) (Stroobant 1931) The connection of the Technical Academy with Lwow University is unclear. Astronomy courses began at the University in 1900, and the first Chair of Astronomy, from 1907 until 1930, was Marcin Ernst (1869-1930). In 1935, instruments included a 13 cm Zeiss refractor, a 13.5 cm Merz-Sendtner refractor with wedge photometer, a 14 cm astrocamera, and a 10 cm astrocamera. In 1935, direction of the observatory was given to the Chair of Astronomy, and work included a stellar photometric catalog and photography of variable stars. In 1945, the observatory was closed, and personnel transferred to Wroclaw. (Kubiak 1973)

Astronomical Station of Kraków Observatory on Mount Lubomir.
This observatory, 30 km south of Kraków, near Myslenice, was developed by Tadeusz Banachiewicz, director of the Kraków Observatory, in the 1920s. (The site, at 922 m elevation, is described as in the Lysina range, and in the Beskidy Mountains.) Two refractors, 135 mm and 76 mm aperture, were used to observe variable stars. A comet was discovered from Lubomir in 1925; and in1936, comet Kaho-Kozik-Lis (1936 III) was co-discovered by Lubomir janitor Wladyslaw Lis (1911-1980). Mount Lubomir observatory was destroyed by fire from troops in 1944.
It is uncertain if Mount Lubomir and Mount Lysina refer to the same site.
(Turaj 1988)

MOUNT LYSINA Station of the National Astronomical Institute (Narodowy Instytut Astronomiczny).
T. Banachiewicz, of Kraków Observatory, initiated the plan to form a National Astronomical Institute, separate from any university, and in 1922 Mount Lysina (30 km south-east of Kraków, in the Beskidy Mountains, 912 m elevation) was chosen for a site. Funding was inadequate and the observatory was never completed. In 1931, the Chief Observer was J. Mergentaler, and the main observer was J. Gadomski. Studies included variable stars, eclipses, comets, occultations. (Stroobant 1931) Limited use was made of the site for meteorology and astronomy, but during WWII, the observatory was destroyed.
It is uncertain if Mount Lysina and Mount Lubomir refer to the same site.

MOUNT SUHORA (20d 4m E, 49d 34m N)
Mt. Suhora Observatory, a station of the Astronomy Department, Kraków Pedagogical University. Located 60 km south-east of Kraków, 1009 m elevation, in the Gorce mountains, near Koninki village. In 1983, Jerzy M.Kreiner proposed the station. It was designed by R. Walczykiewicz and the Kraków Building Company Biprostal, constructed in 1986, and opened in November 1987. A Carl Zeiss Jena Cassegrain telescope, 60 cm aperture, has been equiped with a series of advanced photometers and used for variable star work, since 1991 as part of the 'Whole Earth Telescope' allowing uninterrupted observations of variable stars. ([3])

OSTROWIK (21d 25m E, 52d 5m N)
Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory at Ostrowik. Located 35 km south east of Warsaw, this station has a Zeiss, Jena, 60 cm Cassegrain, installed circa 1973, a 35 cm reflector, and a 14 cm astrocamera. (Kubiak 1973) ([4])

Jan Walery Jedrzejewicz (1835-1887), an amateur, observed double stars, sunspots, lunar occultations, and the positions of 16 comets. A physician, Jedrzejewicz wrote 'Kosmografia' (1886), a handbook of astronomy. This observatory was established in 1877, and was relocated in Warsaw in 1899. (Turaj 1988, Stroobant 1907)

POP IVAN (Pop Iwan)
Pop Ivan is a station of Warsaw Observatory at 2020 m elevation at Czarnohora in the East Carpathian Mountains, intended for meteorology and astronomy. Pop Ivan received funding from the army in 1935, and construction began in 1936. A 33 cm Grubb Parsons astrograph was installed in 1937. A 25 cm Grubb visual refractor and other Grubb equipment was purchased at the same time. Operations began in July of 1938. In September 1939, the observatory was completely destroyed during the Soviet invasion of Poland, and only the triplet astrograph objective survived. Pop Ivan was never rebuilt.
(Kubiak 1973)

POZNAN (Posen)
Jesuit College Observatory.
The Jesuit College in Poznan, founded in 1571, was given a collection of instruments and astronomical equipment in the 1700s by Maria Leszczynska, daughter of the King of Poland. The observatory was founded circa 1761 by Jozef Rogalinski (1728-1802). His observations began circa 1764, and the solar eclipse of 1 April 1784 was observed with a refractor and a Gregorian telescope. However,warfare during this era made science impossible, the College was used as barracks for Prussian and then Russian armies, and the College and observatory were closed in 1773. (Kubiak 1973) A quadrant by Canivet, Paris, with a radius of 3 feet, was sent from the closed observatory to Krakow in 1783. (Howse 1986)

POZNAN (16d 53m E, 52d 24m N)
The Astronomical Observatory of Poznan University (Adam Mickiewicz University).
Kazimierz Graf (1878-1950) was a Polish astronomer, working at Bergdorf Observatory in 1919, when Poznan University offered him the post of director for a proposed Poznan Observatory. Graff traveled to Poznan, chose a site for the observatory, returned to Bergdorf and donated to Poznan a 76 mm Ertel transit and a library of books. In 1921, Bohdan Zaleski (1887-1927) a Polish astronomer with experience at Pulkovo Observatory, began the organization of Poznan Observatory, founded in 1922. Donations included a Steinheil 16 cm refractor, a Zeiss 11 cm refractor (remade into astrocamera), and a Repsold meridian circle (aperture 8 cm, focal length 88 cm, diameter of circles 42 cm). A significant early project was the accurate measurement and publication of the declination of 486 stars. In 1931, the director was J. Witkowski, assisted by S. Andruszewski and J. Slawski. Instruments in 1931 included a Repsold meridian circle, 8 cm aperture and 88 cm focal length, with an impersonal micrometer; an Ertel meridian telescope of 76 mm aperture and 72 cm focal length; and three small portable telescopes. On loan to the observatory in 1931 was a Zeiss equatorial telescope, 20 cm aperture and 301 cm focal length, from the National Institute of Astronomy; and a Steinheil equatorial telescope, 162 mm aperture and 230 cm focal length, from Warsaw. Studies consisted of eclipsing binaries, micrometrical observations of asteroids and comets, occultations, and time service. (Stroobant 1931) During WWII, work stopped, employees were removed and some were arrested, with positions filled by German astronomers. In 1945, Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan resumed operations. The building was undamaged and instruments were little harmed. An observatory workshop undertook repairs and fabrication of instruments and clocks. In modern times, a satellite tracking station was installed, with an automatic satellite camera, 14 cm aperture, 1 m focal length. (Kubiak 1973)

TORUN (18d 3m E, 53d 6m N)
Observatory of Nicolaus Copernicus University, at Piwnice, 12 km northwest of Torun.
This university was founded in 1945, with a Chair of Astronomy and a Chair of Astrophysics. In 1948, construction began for the observatory in Piwnice. The first director was Wladyslaw Dziewulski, formerly director of the Wilno Observatory.
The first instrument was loaned by Harvard College, Cambridge Mass. This Voigtländer portrait lens, an 8 inch f6, is a photographic doublet, with each element a crown / flint pair. It was refigured and remounted by Alvan Clark & Sons to 8 inches aperture and focal length of 114.6 cm (so that photographic plates would match the scale of the Durchmusterung charts). Funding for its purchase in 1885 by Harvard was provided by the Bache fund of the National Academy. The 'Bache Telescope' was used from 1886 to 1889 at Cambridge by E.C. Pickering for a spectrographic survey of northern hemisphere stars, then sent to Arequipa to continue the project until 1923, when a total of 53,754 photographs had been exposed, contributing to the Henry Draper Catalog of spectral classification. The telescope was sent to Torun as a long term loan, with two 6 degree objective prisms, and observations began in July 1949. (Marx & Pfau, Bailey 1931)
By 1958, the main building and two more domes were finished. A 30 - 35 cm Schmidt camera, focal length 75 cm; and a 25 cm Newtonian, focal length 140 cm, were installed in the domes, each with an objective prism.
In August, 1962 a Zeiss, Jena fork mounted 90 cm reflector was installed, with a spherical f3 primary, capable of two configurations: A 60 - 90 cm Schmidt, with two 5 degree objective prisms of BK7 and F2 glass; and a Cassegrain, with a 'quasi-hyperbolic' secondary, focal length 1350 cm, focusing through the perforated primary or via a tertiary through the declination axis. Instruments included a photoelectric polarimeter and a photoelectric photometer. Studies included photographic spectrophotometry. (Iwanowska 1966) In 1974 added a new spectrograph was added, developed and built at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory at Victoria.
Radio telescope installations began with a cylindrical antenna built in 1957. A moveable 12 m antenna was installed in 1958 and used for solar work. A 15 m radio dish began work in 1977, studying the sun, satellites of Jupiter, interstellar plasma, and cosmic sources of radio waves; and intended as the first dish of an interferometric array. Circa 1980, several radio interferometers were in use: two cylinder antennae for solar work at 2.36 m; two antennae for solar research at 92 cm; and three antennae working at 9.2 m. (Kubiak 1973, Marx & Pfau 1982)

VILNA (Vilna, Vilnius, Wilno. Now part of Lithuania.) (25d 18m E, 54d 41m N)
University of Wilno Observatory.
The Jesuit Wilno College was founded in 1570. Elisabeth, Princess Puzyna, daughter of Prince Oginski, provided funds for an observatory, built in 1753 under the supervision of Tomasz Zebrowski, professor of astronomy and trigonometry at the Jesuit College. Marcin Odlanicki Poczobut (1728-1810) studied astronomy in France and Italy, and became director of the observatory in 1764. He visited observatories in Amsterdam, Bremen, Copenhagen, Leyden, Hamburg, and Greenwich, and in 1770 he imported instruments by Dollond and Ramsden. Remodeling of the building followed, and in 1773 observations began, notably of asteroids. The observations of Mercury were used by Lalande to correct figures for Mercury's orbit. Poczobut gave the directorship to Jan Sniadecki in 1807.
Sniadecki (1756-1830) had studied at the University of Kraków, then in Germany, France and England. He was professor of mathematics and astronomy, and director of the observatory, at the Jagiellonian Academy. Sniadecki served as astronomer-observer and director at Wilno from 1807 to 1825. Studies included comets, asteroids, lunar occultations, eclipses of Jovian satellites, two lunar eclipses, and four solar eclipses - used to determine the longitude of Wilno. Sniadecki stepped down as director in 1825, replaced by his student Piotr Slawinski (1794-1856). The University was closed by the Russian government in 1832, but the observatory remained open, managed by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Slawinski purchased a Merz and Mahler refractor, with a clock drive on an equatorial mount. He wrote the first Polish language astronomy text, published circa 1828. Slawinski continued as director until 1843, succeeded by Hluszniewicz, followed by Fuss and then by Sabler. A fire damaged the observatory in 1876, and it was closed with the instruments and library transferred to Pulkowa Observatory.
The University of Wilno reopened in 1919. Wladyslaw Dziewulski (1878-1962) worked to reestablish the observatory, with observations beginning in 1922, using a meridian telescope by Mailhat and a 15 cm astrocamera by Zeiss. A 46 cm mirror was used to construct a slitless spectrograph. By the time of WWII, Wilno was the most modern observatory in Poland, researching astrophysics, spectroscopy, and variable stars. However, after the war, Torun became the new center of Polish astronomy. Currently, the observatory building, in the center of the city, is used as a university library, still containing some of the old instruments.
(Kubiak 1973, Dziewulski 1921)

The succession of instruments at Wilno Observatory begins in 1753 with a 5.5 inch reflector from Germany, now in the University museum. Purchased circa 1765 was a sextant with radius of 6 feet by Canivet, Paris, also now in the University museum.
A Ramsden transit instrument, 4.3 inches aperture and 4 feet in focal length, was purchased between 1765 and1807, and is now found in the University museum.
In 1770 was added a 3.5 inch refractor, focal length 3.6 feet, by Ramsden & Dollond, London, now found in the University museum.
Between 1777 and 1807, a mural quadrant was purchased, radius 8 feet, and aperture 3.5 inches, by Ramsden, now in the University museum.
In 1788, a meridian circle, 4 inches aperture, by Ramsden, was bought.
A refractor was bought in 1790, aperture 4 inches, focal length 9.5 feet. This is cited as once the property of 'Maraldi', possibly Giacomo Filippo Maraldi, at Paris Observatory 1687-1718. Now at the University Museum.
A vertical circle by Reichenbach & Ertel, of Muenchen, radius 18 inches, was added in 1824.
Circa 1825, a refractor by Ploessl, Wien, focal length 3.7 feet, was purchased; now in the University Museum.
In 1840, a 6 inch Merz, Muenchen, refractor, with focal length of 8 feet, was added, now in the University Museum.
(Howse 1986)

In 1931, instruments included a Zeiss double refractor, visual telescope 15 cm aperture and 225 cm focal length, photographic telescope 15 cm aperture and 150 cm focal length. An astrograph by Zeiss-Heyde was 16 cm aperture and 150 cm focal length. A Zeiss comet searcher was 15 cm aperture and 100 cm focal length. A universal instrument by Bamberg was 6.5 cm aperture and 52 cm focal length. Also used was a Hartmann microphotometer and a Schlesinger stereocomparator. Wladyslaw Dziewulski was assisted by A. Szeligowski, Mlle W. Iwanowska, M. Kowalczewski, W. Zonn, and W. Ehrenfeucht. (Stroobant1931)

WARSAW (52d 13m N, 18d 41m E)
Warsaw University Observatory.
In the 1700s, amateur observatories in Warsaw were owned by the Czartoryski family and by King Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski.
Warsaw University was founded in 1816. Franciszek Arminski (1789-1848) was professor of astronomy and very influential in the development of astronomy in Poland. An observatory site outside of the city was proposed, but the final decision, in 1819, was for a fine building in an attractive part of Warsaw. The observatory was opened during the summer of 1825, with workshops and living space for astronomers. Research observations began in 1826. However, the November 1830 rebellion led to a siege of Warsaw by the Russian army in 1831, forcing Arminski to disassemble and remove the instruments, then reinstall them at a later date. In consequence, Warsaw Observatory contributed little to contemporary science of that era.
Early instruments included a Reichenbach and Ertel meridian circle, a Reichenbach and Ertel transit instrument, an equatorial refractor, a split-objective heliometer, and a comet finder refractor. Arminski died in 1848 and his colleague Jan Baranowski (1800-1879), a student of Bessel, became director. Baranowski translated Copernicus, 'De Revolutionibus', in 1853, the first translation into Polish of this work. In 1859, an equatorial refractor by Merz, 16 cm aperture, was installed. Baranowski resigned in 1869. He was succeeded by a series of Russian astronomers appointed as directors, Vostokov 1869-1895, Krasnov 1899-1907, and Cerny 1908-1915.
The observatory was annexed by the University in 1873.
Adam Prazmowski (1821-1885) was a lecturer at the Observatory and the first astrophysicist in Poland. His most famous work was the discovery that light from the solar corona was polarized. In 1862, Prazmowski moved to Paris to work with instrument maker Hartnack, successor to Oberhaeuser. Together they developed improved water immersion objectives for microscopes, until 1877,when Prazmowski became sole owner of the business.
In 1907, Warsaw Observatory director was A.W. Krassnow, assisted by J.J. Kowalczyk and Th. Banachiewicz. The major focus of their research was positional astronomy. The main instrument was a meridian circle by Ertel, 155 mm aperture. (Stroobant 1907)
In July, 1915, during WWI and the Russian withdrawal from Warsaw, the observatory instruments and Russian staff were moved to Rostov. Jan Krasowski, from Lwow Observatory, became director at Warsaw, giving lectures at the university, working on theory, and not attempting observations.
Michal Kamienski, who had worked at Pulkovo, Vladyvostok and Tokyo observatories, was director at Warsaw from 1923 to 1944. The observatory's instruments were returned from Russia in 1925.
In 1931, the address was Aleja Ujazdowska 6/8. The director was M. Kamienski, assisted by J. Gadomski, E. Rybka, and L. Orkisz. Instruments included: A meridian circle by Ertel, 162 mm aperture and 215 cm focal length, with a Zeiss impersonal micrometer. A Merz equatorial telescope, 162 mm aperture and 265 cm focal length. An equatorial comet searcher by Heyde, 162 mm aperture and 146 cm focal length. A Zeiss astrograph, 12 cm aperture and 60 cm focal length. A reflecting zenith instrument by Wanschaff. A Cooke equatorial of 135 mm aperture, with a Graff photometer. Research was on positions of asteroids & comets, occultations, and variable stars. (Stroobant 1931)
The invasion of 1939 did not damage Warsaw Observatory, and research continued, on a diminished level, during the war. However, the reprisal to the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944 resulted in a tank attack on the observatory and the total loss of instruments and the library.
Within months of war's end, the observatory was reorganized in Kraków. An observing station was established in Przegorzaly, near Kraków, in 1947, with a 25 cm refractor and a shop-made astrograph with a 14 cm camera and a 6 cm camera. In 1948, the rebuilding of the observatory began in Warsaw, and in 1950 it was reopened, specializing in education and training, and making the best of the lack of instruments. Circa 1970, a satellite tracking station was installed. (Kubiak 1973)

Instruments at the historic Warsaw University Observatory in 1826 included: A Fraunhofer, Muenchen, 4 inch refractor , focal length 6 feet. A Reichenbach, Muenchen equatorial circle, aperture 6 inches,focal length 2.5 feet (possibly an error in this listing for an f5 telescope). A Reichenbach meridian circle, diameter 3 feet, focal length 6 feet. A Reichenbach transit instrument, 4.5 inches aperture, focal length 6 feet. A Reichenbach vertical circle, diameter 3 feet, focal length 4 feet. A Reichenbach heliometer, 7.6 cm aperture, possibly 115 cm focal length. A notable entry in the inventory is three clocks made by Gugenmus of Warszawa. (Howse 1986, citing J. Dobrzycki, Warsaw.)
The Reichenbach meridian circle was used by Jan Kowalczyk in a program to catalog the coordinates of 6041 stars, over 20 years of observations, published between 1892 and 1903. Using the vernier scales, accuracy of position was kept to within about 2 seconds of arc. (Kubiak 1973)

N. Copernic Observatory of the Free University of Poland. At Piaseczno, near Warsaw.
In 1931, the director was J. Krassowski, astronomy professor at the University. Instruments included an equatorial reflector by Schaer, 40 cm aperture and 283 cm focal length; a Schaer comet searcher, 25 cm aperture and 120 cm focal length; a 'miroir horizontal' [coelostat fed telescope?] by B. Schmidt, 20 cm aperture and 940 cm focal length; and a 'miroir plan' [flat mirror, for heliostat?] by Schmidt, 20 cm aperture. Research included variable stars, colorimetry, and planetary surfaces. (Stroobant 1931)

Observatory of the Institute of Practical Astronomy at the Polytechnical School.
This observatory was founded in 1925. In 1931, the director was F. Kepinski, assisted by W. Katkiewicz.
Instruments in 1931 included a meridian telescope by Herbst, 67 mm aperture; an equatorial by Reinfelder and Hertel, 12 cm aperture; two universal instruments by Heyde, 35 mm and 30 mm aperture; and a universal instrument by Repsold, 42 mm aperture. (Stroobant 1931)

Jedrzejewicz Observatory, Society of the Sciences in Warsaw.
The observatory in Plonsk, owned by Jan Walery Jedrzejewicz (1835-1887), moved in 1899 to Mokotowska 6, in Warsaw. Director in 1907 was R. Merecki, researching comets and nebulae. Instruments in 1907 included a Steinheil refractor of 152mm aperture, a Cooke refractor of 127 mm aperture, a meridian circle, a Vogel stellar spectroscope, and a photometer. By 1931, Jedrzejewicz Observatory was supported by the Society of the Sciences in Warsaw and associated with the university observatory.
(Stroobant 1907, Stroobant 1931)

WROCLAW (Breslau) (17d 5m E, 51d 7m N)
Wroclaw University Astronomical Observatory.
During most of the years of historical interest, the city was 'Breslau', the name since 1945 is Wroclaw.
Wroclaw Observatory was founded by Jungnitz in 1790. Palm Henryk Boguslawski (1789-1851), was a notable director circa 1831-1851. Johann Gottfried Galle (1812-1910) moved from Germany to direct Wroclaw later in the 1800s. In 1930, Wroclaw Observatory moved from the University in the center of the city to a new location just outside of Wroclaw. Installed at that time were a refractor with a 23 cm Clark objective and a 6 inch Repsold vertical circle. These instruments survive to the present era.
Bialkow Station was established in 1932, 70 km. north of Wroclaw. (See entry for Bialkow, above.)
A second observation station was established in 1934, in Windhuk (south west part of Africa), but was closed in September, 1939, due to war.
The observatories in Wroclaw and in Bialkowo were active through the war, until 1944. In September 1945 Wroclaw and Bialkowo were transferred from Soviet to Polish authority. Instrumentation had been destroyed, except two Repsold astrometric instruments, and the 23 cm refractor, which was undamaged but the co-mounted astrocamera was destroyed. The library was also heavily damaged.
The 23 cm refractor was equipped with a photoelectric photometer in 1952, and used for cataloging and for observing magnetic stars. A Zeiss 13 cm refractor for heliophysical research was added in 1956. In 1961 construction was completed for a 30 cm horizontal reflector, with focal length 11 m, for solar photography.
In 1962 was added a spectroheliograph, fed through a 20 cm coelostat. Solar research has focused on sun-spot surface changes during the solar cycle.
(Kubiak 1973)

Instruments used at Wroclaw include:
From 1791, a quadrant, radius 1 foot, by Klingert, Breslau (Wroclaw), and an azimuth circle, diameter 7 inches, by Klingert, Breslau.
A transit instrument by Canivet, Paris, transferred from Berlin Observatory circa 1806-11.
A mural quadrant, radius 5 feet, moved from Zagan Observatory in 1812, now at the University Museum, Krakow.
A heliometer, focal length 3.5 feet, from 1817, by Fraunhofer, Munchen.
A transit instrument, 2.7 inches aperture, focal length 3.5 feet, made by Dollond in 1813, brought from Kaliningrad circa 1821-52, now in the University Museum, Krakow.
A quadrant with radius of 7 feet, dismantled in 1852.
A transit instrument, 2 inches aperture, focal length 6 feet, by Klingert, Breslau.
A repeating circle, diameter 18 inches, by Utzschneider, Muenchen, now at the University Museum, Krakow.
An equatorial refractor, focal length 5 feet.
(Howse 1986, citing P. Rybka, Wroclaw)

Adam Ostoja-Ostaszewski (1860-1934) was an amateur astronomer, who built an observatory near Wzdow. He published a book, 'Le vrai systeme du monde', explaining that the Sun is actually located inside the Earth, and the sky acts as a mirror to reflect a solar image. (Turaj 1988.)


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-- Internet resources used in this essay:
The History of Astronomical Observatories in Poland. Mt. Suhora Observatory web site. [6] (Lubomir & Mt. Suhora)
Mietelski, Jan. Two Hundred Years' History of the Cracow Astronomical Observatory. [7] (Lubomir)
(Prazmowski) [8]
-- Other internet resources, for further information:
Astronomia w Polsce. [9]. Mt. Suhora site.
Astronomy in Poland. [10]
Iwaniszewska, Cecylia. World Beat: Poland. Mercury Magazine 25:6 (Nov.-Dec. 1996) 6. [11]
Jagellonian University Astronomical Observatory. [12]
Moletai Observatory. [13] (History includes Vilnius)
Polish Astronomical Observatories. [14]
Urania Magazine, amateur astronomy in Poland. [15]
Vilnius Astronomical Observatory. [16]