A Page from Karazin University History: the First Astronomical Observatory in the Dnipro Region >> Karazin University

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July 27, 2017

A Page from Karazin University History: the First Astronomical Observatory in the Dnipro Region


The astronomical school of Karazin University is well known all over the world. Among its pupils are Otto and Ludwig Struve, Nikolay Barabashov and many other distinguished scientists. Karazin University alumni have their names eternalized in the names of 23 objects of the solar system (minor planets, craters on the Moon and Venus). However, very few people know that the pearl of the astronomical school, the University Observatory, has a rather complicated history.

Karazin University Observatory was the first in the Dnipro region of Ukraine. The idea of its creation belongs to the famous German astronomer Johann Huth who was invited to work at the University in 1808. He brought astronomical devices with him, which became the basis of the astronomical lab. By the beginning of the 1810-1811 academic year the lab turned into a small observatory. Shortly afterwards the German scientist transferred to the University of Tartu, and astronomical studies were suspended.

In mid-1820s, Karazin University Professor Pavlo Zateplynskyi restored the observatory situated above the entrance to the University church. It was equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment purchased in Europe. However, unfortunately, the scientist fell seriously ill shortly afterwards, and the premises stayed empty and unused again. The next milestone in the development of the astronomical school of Karazin University began in mid 1840s, when Professor Andrii Shydlovskyi set up a temporary observatory in the University Garden (currently Taras Shevchenko Garden). But it existed for only several years.

The key figure in the history of Karazin University Observatory was Grigory Levitsky. It was on his initiative that the construction of the modern astronomical observatory began in the University Garden in 1883. Today, it is one of the leading astronomical institutions of Ukraine where fundamental and applied research is conducted in physics of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, satellites, asteroids, comets, astrometry and astronomy.

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