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First Astronomical Observatory of the Academy of Sciences


Planisphere astrolabe – an angular astronomical instrument for determining the position of the stars. Gaulterus Arsenius. Flanders. 16th century.

Astronomical quadrant – instrument for measuring the distance of heavenly bodies. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Musa. 14th century.

Southern pavilion of the exhibition.

Sun globe clock. I. Bruckner. Instrument chamber of the Academy of Sciences. Mid-18th century.

In the Kunstkamera tower in the 18th century, observations were made of the night sky, and chronographic and cartographic services worked here. When you visit the tower, you will see diverse scientific instruments, measurement devices, astrolabes of complex construction, elaborate clock mechanisms, spyglasses and telescopes.

Peter the Great realised the importance of astronomy for studying the geography of the Russian Empire, and in the early 18th century, under the leadership of Joseph Nicholas De L’Isle the first academic astronomical observatory was opened in Russia. As a result, Russia surpassed the developed nations of Europe in the application of astronomic studies to geographic work.

In the observatory of the Petersburg Kunstkamera, Russian astronomy, meteorology, geography, geodesy, topography and chronography were born. The first Petersburg meridian passed through here, which became the basis of mapping the country and planning of the city. Here the outstanding scholars of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences L. Euler, G.V. Kraft, H.N. Winsheim, F.H. Mayer, G. Heinsius and others worked. Observations were conducted at the Kunstkamera building until the completion of construction of the Pulkovo Observatory in 1839.

The exhibition recreates the workplace of an astronomer of the 18th century. The large expandable telescope is one of the few surviving instruments of M. Lomonosov. With this telescope he observed the movement of Venus across the Sun in 1763.