Research and Collections

The objects in the Old Observatory permanent exhibition represent the astronomy and mathematics collections of the University of Tartu Museum.

The collection includes 320 artefacts. The most important of these are the numerous astronomical and geodetic instruments, which reached the Observatory when they were returned to the University, clocks and other objects found in an Observatory. The collections also include astronomical, mathematical and seismological instruments, which the University of Tartu Museum obtained from Estonian science institutions and private donors. This is how the Observatory acquired the many parts of a telescope made by Bernhard Schmidt who was an astronomer of Estonian heritage.

The gems of the collection are the historical telescopes:

  • Joseph von Fraunhofer’s Refractor, which used to be the best telescope in the world

  • William Herschel’s 7-foot Reflector, which is the same type of telescope he used to discover Uranus

  • The main telescope of the Observatory, which was constructed in Jena in the famous Carl Zeiss manufacturing company

One of our rarest objects is a medieval Arabic celestial globe.

Also check the collections of the University of Tartu Museum and UT Art Museum.