Living in The Cottage of Vienna , The Vienna Observatory

The Coudé, Rothschild and The Vienna Observatory

Dec 21, 2016

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Searching for the “Coudé Building” amidst a jungle-like world of ice and snow surrounding the Vienna University Observatory.

 

A trace of the Coudé Building emerging from amidst the dense vegetation of the Sternwartepark.

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The “Coudé Equatorial Telescope” was a gift of Baron Albert von Rothschild, who was a lover of astronomy and in 1885 had donated 10,000 Gulden for the purchase of this instrument and the furthering of the “visual exploration of planets and comets”. A special building was constructed within the area of the Sternwarte, the Vienna Observatory, to house the new tool: The “Equatorial Coudé Building, designed in red bricks to match the architecture of the main Observatory complex.

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Below: Housing for the external unit of the “Equatorial Coudé Telescope” (the equatorial tube and its supporting pillar) on the compounds of the Vienna Observatory in December 2016.

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In October 1909 Adolf Hnatek was established as the director of the Vienna Sternwarte, and he found the COUDE EQUATORIAL TELESCOPE  in a deplorable state, unfit for any measurements. He had it fully repaired and restored to its initial value. and then published this account of his efforts to salvage the precious instrument. The booklet is stored in the Observatory‘s library:
(It is only available in German, a full translation can be provided through my translation service page.)

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The image below shows the interior of Vienna‘s Coudé Building, around 1913. Observations with a Coudé were made from inside,  comfortably (here on one of the famous Thonet chairs) and warm, because, as can be seen, a Coudé Telescope consists of an “eyepiece” with control boards inside, and an equatorial tube outside of the building.

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In literature the astronomer at the Coudé Telescope is often depicted in a cross-section image, as the human connection between the instrument and the building, thus lending it a deep touch of mystery that furthers the longing of the untrained amateur to plunge deeper into the secrets of this fantastic world of astronomy. The image below is from the “Atlas der Himmelskunde”, 1898, found in the Library of the Sternwarte in Vienna:

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A Meteorograph with three cameras placed on the terrace of the Coudé building (around 1900), adjacent to the main structure of the Vienna Observatory.  More technical details about the instrument can be found here:  phaidra.univie.ac.at/o:57113 It is on display in the glass case in the round hall of the main observatory building.

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The main building of the Observatory seen from the terrace of the Coudé Building.

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The Coudé building in Vienna in December 2016.

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“DER ERFORSCHUNG DES HIMMELS GEWIDMET” – “DEDICATED TO THE EXPLORATION OF THE SKY”

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The tip of the Coudé Building seen from the window of the historic Cottage Sanatorium, a former neighbour of the Observatory, where famous patients such as Freud or Puccini underwent treatment. (Austrian Illustrated Newspaper, 1910)

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The Cottage Area and Gersthof around 1910: Detail of Postcard by AKON, National Library.

List of references:
Lequeux, James; The Coudé Equatorials, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 14(3), 191-202 (2011).
Hnatek, Adolf; Annalen der k. k. Universitätssternwarte Wien
Webpage der Universitätssternwarte Wien
Austrian National Library, Austrian Illustrated Newspaper, 1910

AUREA.link 2016    All rights reserved.


More about “THE VIENNA OBSERVATORY”

The Coudé, Rothschild and The Vienna Observatory
A Blanket of Twinkling Stars
Littrow – Die Wunder des Himmels – Wonders of The Sky
Cottage at A Glance
This View is Magic.
The 25th Anniversary of The Vienna University Observatory in 1908
Littrow’s Legacy – A Rare Discovery
The Vienna University Observatory
Transit of Mercury at the Vienna University Observatory


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