History and development of the Observatory

This page is still under construction!

Dawn of the Observatory:

The Wendelstein Observatory was founded at the end of the thirties of the last century for the reason of military research in radar technology. Shortly after foundation it started with scientific solar research which was intensivied after WW2 and integration in the Ludwigs Maximilians Universitšt . During the sixties the Observatory expanded with the Koronograph. With this equipment the research of the solar atmosphere and corona was possible. Increasing air pollution and a shifting of the scientific engagements towards night astronomy leaded to the discontinuation of scientific solar research. At the end of 1988 the time was ready: The aquisition of the 32 inch telescope made the continuing operation with sophisticated astronomical research possible.

Wendelstein between ca 1935 and 1975:

Wendelstein summit before 1935

Wendelstein summit 1942

Wendelstein ca 1936

Omni-directional radio beacon 1942

Observatory before 1970

Except for the little chapel no building existed before 1935 at the Mt. Wendelstein summit. This image shows the old wooden cross which stood many decades at the summit. Complete view of Mt. Wendelstein with mountain restaurant, summit trail and beacon emitter at the location of the Observatory. The omni-directional beacon one of the military test installations stood even during WW2 on its place. Today it is the location of the spectrograph room. At this stage of construction of the Observatory all solar telescopes were in use.

Koronograph at Zeiss

Koronograph with double scope

Koronograph in the sixties

Solar Observatory

The 8 inch Koronograph was built in 1963 at Zeiss in Oberkochen. For a long time the Koronograph was the main instrument for solar observation. Further image of the Koronograph, now without double scope. This aerial view shows the Solar Observatory at the stage of construction about 1975.

A few more older impressions:

Historic ascent

Visitor with fur

Winter at the summit

This old postcard shows the historic rack railway. Sometimes the fox is checking the Observatory. As well before WW2 fascinating winter impressions succeeded.

Wendelstein Observatory after 1970, construction of the 32 inch telescope:

Winter view, after 1970

Building shell of the new dome

The new...

...dome is floating in!

The view from the radio antenna towards the Observatory documents the regency of the winter. Although in winter, now 1988, the building shell of the new telescope awaits warmer times. Time has come, the new building should be crowned with a dome. Not so simple to place this bulky thing on top of the building.

1st Light of the 32 inch Telescope

The first image!

Telescope with photometer

Working with the MCCP

1988 the new 32 inch Ritchey Chretien telescope was commissioned. The first image shows the Orion Nebula M42, taken by Alex Fiedler. One of the first devices at the 32 inch telescope was a simple photometer. The Multi Channel Photometer MCCP was especial during the first half of the nineties our scientific main instrument.

Reconstruction of the Observatory in summer 2001:

The problem was known since years: Staff for reparation and attendance of the antennae of the BR and cellular phone companies at the summit needed, especially in winter, a secure access to their exposed working spaces. Until 2001 this was only possible by using the area and the rooms of the Observatory. This caused interferences with the deserved rest periods of the staff astronomers especially during early daytimes. As a solution for this unsatisfaying situation 2001 the BR built a separate connection tunnel at the north side of our station. During this construction the Uni-Bauamt managed the urgent necessary expansion of the Observatory with a new electronic laboratory, a new telescope control room and a possibility to prepare observation instruments for their nightly mission.

The construction site at June 26th 2001 .....

..... and the finished reconstruction, 4 months later!

The following series of images shows the process of renovation chronologically:

Start of the renovation at May 7th 2001.
Deconstruction of old bibliotheque, guest restroom and lobby.
All material transportation was done only by helicopter.
The lowered access way to the BR becames visible.
The old seminar room is hanging in the air!
The new rooms for the astronomers are visible and look like a playpen.
The playpen gets its roof.
The roof gets its cover step by step.
The upper terrace will be covered with tar (but not with feathers).
The new rooms are already insulated to prevent freezing astronomers.
The carpenters take a break.
Topping out ceremony: at first the work, ....
.... than the fun!
And finally it happens:
The renovation finishes at the end of October....
.... and the hand over of the keys at November 6th 2001 ....
.... is enough reason for a party!

For nostalgic freaks:



The old lea with

a look to the electronic lab.

The small

electronic lab.

Back to the Web page of the Wendelstein Observatory.

Great landscape views from Wendelstein you can find here. (always under construction)

Last editing April 2004
email: Heinz Barwig