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  • "Parole pronunciate dal Prof. G.-B. Donati per la solenne Inaugurazione del nuovo Osservatorio di Firenze Ad Arcetri il dě 27 ottobre 1872" [Words pronounced by Prof. G.-B. Donati for the solemn inauguration of the new Observatory of Florence at Arcetri ozoom in altra finestra
  • Aerial view of the Astrophysical Observatory at Arcetri, Florence.zoom in altra finestra

Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri [Astrophysical Observatory at Arcetri]

In a report in 1751, director of the Observatory of Pisa, Tommaso Perelli, indicated the hill of Arcetri as the location best suited to site an observatory. His idea, however, remained simply an idea. It was only in the course of the following century that an observatory was built precisely at Arcetri and inaugurated on October 27, 1872. The transfer of astronomical research from the "Specola" on Via Romana, by then considered inadequate due to its unfortunate location, to the hill of Arcetri was favoured and organised by astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati. The site has an evident symbolic significance, as it is tied to the memory of Galileo Galilei who precisely at Arcetri, in the villa "Il gioiello" spent the last years of his life.

The new Observatory was under the authority of the Institute of Advanced Studies. At the end of the 19th century, the observatory was renovated and its equipment was improved. Antonio Abetti, appointed director, attended to completely restoring the instruments. In 1920, his son Giorgio was appointed to teach Astrophysics. In 1924, the Officine Galileo built a Solar Tower, inaugurated the following year, which made it possible to carry out advanced studies in solar physics. In 1954, Observatory management was taken over by Guglielmo Righini, under whom solar radio astronomy was born at Arcetri. The first radio telescope was installed in 1956. In the past decades, research at Arcetri has continued on levels of excellence in the various sectors of astronomy and astrophysics, also utilising astronomical structures situated abroad and managed by the Florentine observatory.

This historical collection of astronomical apparatuses includes, among the various instruments, telescopes (the one by Giovan Battista Amici is quite important), pendulum clocks and astronomical lenses. Most of the ancient texts and archive documents have been entrusted to storage at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science.

The Observatory has a study room equipped with projection systems, a machine to visualise cosmic rays, calculators, a spectroscope, a planetary system in scale, and celestial maps. It also manages the planetarium of the city of Florence in collaboration with the Science and Technology Foundation and the Institute and Museum of the History of Science.


Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Victor Beard

Last update 22/gen/2008