Pulkovo Space Observatory - Exploring the Universe

The Pulkovo Space Observatory of Russia is a World Heritage Site. Located about 19 km from St. Petersburg it is the main space observatory to the Russian Academy of Sciences. Russia's Pulkovo Space Observatory has been used extensively through its long history. Boasting the world's largest 38cm refractor, the Russian observatory is a state-of-the-art facility.

The Pulkovo Space Observatory was the concept of Vasili Yakovlevich Struve, a Russian scientist. In 1839 the observatory was officially opened with Vasili Struve as the director. Alexander Bryullov was the architect behind Pulkovo Space Observatory. The observatory was mainly involved in determining the star coordinates as well as the coordinates of astronomical constants which include refractions, precessions, aberrations and nutations. This top-class observatory has also been used in the geographical study of Russia, plus the advancement of navigation. Several star catalogues have been created by the observatory.

As the Pulkovo Space Observatory’s 50th anniversary rolled in, the astrophysical laboratory was added along with a mechanical workshop and the installation of a 76cm refractor. Feodor Bredikhin became director in 1890 and was joined by Aristarkh Belopolsky, both of who contributed greatly to Astrophysical research. An impressive Littrow spectrograph was installed at the Space Observatory in 1923. Then in 1940 they received a horizontal solar telescope. Two affiliates were set-up to assist the observatory in getting information on southern stars. These astrophysical stations were organized in Simeiz of the Crimea and Nikolaev.

During the Great Patriotic War the Pulkovo Space Observatory was badly attacked by German forces during air raids and artillery battles. The buildings were absolutely destroyed. Fortunately the main instruments of the observatory were rescued and stored in St. Petersburg. Sadly in 1997 the library was badly damaged with the loss of almost half the books due to arson. The Observatory was reopened in May 1954. The Pulkovo Space Observatory was even expanded with further instruments and employees. New devices included a zenith telescope, cronagraph, radio telescope, stellar interferometer and others. Since that time the Pulkovo Space Observatory has met with great success, organizing expeditions and recording great amounts of important data.


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