Tartu Observatory Celebrates 200th Birthday

23. December 2010

The Tartu Observatory, or the Old Observatory of the University of Tartu as it's more properly known, will be open to the public on the evening of December 22 in celebration of the landmark's 200th anniversary.

Visitors will be treated to a light show and, if the weather is clear, will be able to gaze at the stars through the observatory's Zeiss telescope.

Though it was replaced as the Tartu University's main astronomical research facility in 1964, the Old Observatory is still revered locally for its historic value and has become a recognized symbol of the town.

The facility's unique, rotating dome and high-quality refractor telescope made it one of the most advanced observatories in the world during its 19th century heyday. It was here in 1835 that Friedrich Struve, the observatory's director at the time, became the first man to measure the distance of a star from the Earth.

The building recently underwent extensive renovation and will re-open as a museum at the end of April.