The Tartu Old Observatory is a modern museum and a meeting place for astronomy lovers. In its heyday, it was one of the most important research facilities in the world not only in astronomy but also in the areas of geodesy, seismology, time measurement, theoretical and experimental physics.
The observatory has contributed to the change in the perception of our planet and the universe. The most famous head of the Old Observatory is astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve who acquired the 9-inch Fraunhofer Refractor, which was the world’s best and largest refractor of the time for the observatory. Struve also organised the measurement of the longest meridian arc (Struve Geodetic Arc) in order to fix the shape of the Earth and create a basis for making more accurate world maps. In 2005 Struve Geodetic Arc was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The Old Observatory displays a rich permanent exhibition on astronomy and the history of astronomy.
The Old Observatory is a branch of the University of Tartu Museum. Other branches include the University of Tartu Art Museum and the Old Anatomical Theatre (the Old Anatomical Theatre is currently closed due to renovation).