Principal Instruments of Hamburg Observatory 19, 28, 29


The Great Refractor

60cm objective, 9m focal length. Installed in 1906, used extensively by Kasimir Graf for planetary observations. This instrument was mainly an impressive technical achievement, rather than extensively used for ground-breaking observational work.

The 1 meter Reflector

Installed in 1911 with a Zeiss mount. Used by Walter Baade initially for comet and asteroid searches, later for photographic work on clusters, galaxies and nebulae. Crucial for Baade’s work on his two stellar population theory.

The Equatorial

26cm refractor, 3m focal length. The oldest instrument at the observatory, installed 1867, it was used initially for comet and asteroid work, mainly visual. It was later used for work on the “spiral nebulae” (which we now know to be galaxies). The instrument fell somewhat into disuse after larger instruments were installed until local amateur Max Beyer used it 1946 – 1977 for his cometary and other observational work.

AG Astrograph (“AG” = Astronomische Gesellschaft)

8.5cm objective, focal length 2.06m. Built in 1924, it was used for the important AGK2 and AGK3 catalogues.

Lippert Astrograph

34cm objective, 3.4m focal length. It was used for the Bergedorfer Spektraldurchmusterung, variable star research and comet/asteroid searches. Four new comets and four novae were discovered with this instrument. It is now used by the Seh Stern project.

Oskar-Lühning Telescope

1.2m aperture, 15.6m focal length. The largest instrument at Bergedorf, it was installed in 1975 and used initially to study planetary nebulae, nova and b-Cephei stars. Science observations ceased in the mid 1980’s. It was modernised in 2001 for remote PC control and CCD imaging.

Meridian Circle

19cm objective, 2.3m focal length. It was used for several catalogues, including one gathered in Perth, Australia in 1967 (Southern Reference Star catalogue) for which the telescope was temporarily on loan. It is now in the German National Museum. To 1969, 130,000 observations were made with the instrument.

Schmidt Telescope

An 80cm telescope, originally conceived in 1937 but not delivered until 1951. Light pollution hampered its scientific contributions until it was moved in 1975 to Calar Alto, Spain. It was used for the northern hemisphere Hamburg Quasar Survey and is still in use today.


23cm telescope with 2.05m focal length. Built in 1973, used since 1975 for precision astrometry. Stellar positions determined from the instrument were used in many projects, including for the Hipparcos satellite’s input data.