Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) arranged with the support of electoress Sophie Charlotte the establishment of a scientific foundation in Berlin/Brandenburg in the year 1700 AD, the "Societaet der Wissenschaften", of which he became the first president.
The astronomical institute relating to the observatory was financed totally by the proceeds of the monopoly for calendar calculation until 1811. In this period among others Johann Bernoulli III. (1744-1807 astronomer and mathematician), Leonhard Euler (1707-1783 mathematician, appointed by the king Friedrich II. to the Berlin academy of sciences), Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736-1812, discoverer of the gravitational stable points within the orbits of two orbiting bodies, called Lagrange Points or Libration Points), Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777, founder of the Berlin Astronomical Annuals, written from 1774 to 1959), Johann Elert Bode (1747-1826, writer of the star atlas "Uranographia" done from 1797 to 1801 cartographing 17240 stars, including 1250 own observations), and Johann Franz Encke (1791-1865, astronomer) were engaged with astronomy at the academy of sciences, where Encke as Bode and Bernoulli became director of the observatory.
April the 24th 1835 Encke moved into the New Observatory with his assistant Johann Gottfried Galle (1812-1910, astronomer). In May of the same year the astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846), who was born in Minden and called from Koenigsberg, occupied "Das Magnetische Haeuschen" on the area of the observatory. Bessel, who was director of the Koenigsberg observatory from 1810 until his death 1846, managed 1838 for the first time by means of exact aberration numbers and trigonometric parallax calculation the determination of the distance of a fixstar (61 Cygni with 0.32" = ca. 10ly).
1837 Encke discovered the thin division within the A ring of Saturn, which was called after him. One year later Galle discovered the inner fade C ring of Saturn. Galle also discovered the planet Neptune at the 23rd of September 1846 based on calculations of the Paris astronomer Urbain Leverrier (1811-1877).
Beside of this spectacular actions, calculation, observation, and discovery of asteroids and comets were the main tasks of the New Observatory. Encke calculated the orbit of the according to him named Encke Comet which was discovered by Pons and which 3.3 year solar orbit is placed between Jupiter and Mercury. The New Observatory was in operation until 1913 and then instantly removed. The 9" Fraunhofer refractor had moved to the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich, where it could be visited.
The job as the first astronomer of the academy got Arthur von Auwers (1838-1915). He build a fundamental system of fixstar positions, did measurements of the sun parallax from Venus passings, and he co-initiated the academy project "History of the Starry Sky" (which ran 1900-1965).
1871 Wilhelm Foerster proposed the building of a solar watch tower, which evolved 1879 to the Potsdam Astrophysical Observatory, the first of its kind. First director of the astrophysical observatory became 1882 Hermann Carl Vogel (1841-1907), who proved 1887 the Doppler Shift within the stellar spectrum. Wilhelm Foerster founded 1874 the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut (institute for astronomical calculation, after WWII moved to Heidelberg) and under his direction of the observatory 1888 Friedrich Kuestner (1856-1930) showed the waving of the polar height of the earth which is originated by inner movements of the earth. According to this discovery Foerster founded the still existing International Latitude Service, which is a connection of several international observatories, measuring the polar height shift.
1894-1899 Bruno H. Buergel (1875-1948) was working at the Urania observatory. Later he became author of many popular science books on astronomy.
Because of the quarrels about the California nebular Archenhold planned to build the most powerful telescope of earth. Officially this plans were mentioned 1893 for the first time. But also the Potsdam astrophysical observatory was planning for a new telescope, so that Archenhold didn't get any governmental money for his plans.
Although his position as a prussian offical Foerster was also a critic against the foreign policy of Bismarck and before WWI signer of a call to the European community together with Albert Einstein and other german scientists. He experienced the end of the WWI and died January the 18th 1921 in Bornim.
1931 after his 70th Birthday Friedrich S. Archenhold gave the administration of the observatory to his son Guenther Archenhold. 1936 the Treptow observatory got owned by the this time national socialistic city of Berlin. Guenther Archenhold immigrated to the Suisse, while his doughter and his mother died within the concentration camp of Theresienstadt. Friedrich S. Archenhold died 1939 shortly after the start of WWII.
Within the war in Berlin astronomy was nearly nonexistent. Planetarium and the building of the Urania society were destroyed within WWII. The Archenhold observatory got seriously damaged.
1953 the Wilhelm-Foerster-Institute became the Wilhelm-Foerster-Observatory and the first scientific director became Adolph Kunert. After the wall in 1961 there was no greater astronomical facility in the west sectors of Berlin, and so the new observatory building, concepted by Hans Bassen, was build until 1963 at the top of the 78m high "Insulaner", which was raised from remnants of WWII. This "mountain" is placed in Berlin-Schoeneberg near the city train station Priesterweg. At the inauguration ceremony the 89 years old biologist and son of Wilhelm Foerster, Karl Foerster, was guest. The Bamberg refractor was installed within the main dome of the building. At the 18th of June 1965 the new great Zeiss planetarium in front of the Insulaner got established.
At the end of 1996 the Bamberg refractor was dismounted and renovated by an optical firm at Jena. The telescope was reinaugurated at the 50 year anniversary of the Wilhelm-Foerster-Observatory in July 1997. The renovation was also enabled by means of the lottery society.
"Astronomie" in "Wissenschaft in Berlin - Disziplinen"
covering volume to the exhibition "Der Kongress denkt"
Tilmann Buddensieg, Kurt Duewell, and Klaus-Juergen Sembach (Eds.)
Gebr. Mann-Verlag 1987
Hans-Werner Kluenner, Helmut Boersch-Suppan
"Hauptstadt des Brandenburgischen Kurstaates", B02011
"Stadt der Preussischen Koenige", B03073
"Unter buergerlicher Selbstverwaltung", B04123
Archiv Verlag 1985
Dr. Karl-Friedrich Hoffmann
"30 Jahre Planetarium am Insulaner"
in "AllZeit 3'95"
Wilhelm-Foerster-Sternwarte e.V. Berlin 1995
Wolfgang Meyer, Jochen Rose
"Die Bibliothek der Wilhelm-Foerster-Sternwarte e.V."
in "Veranstaltungen im Maerz, April, Mai 1992 mit Himmelskalender"
Wilhelm-Foerster-Sternwarte e.V. Berlin 1992
Prof. Dr. Dieter B. Herrmann
"Blick in das Weltall - Die Geschichte der Archenhold-Sternwarte"
Paetec Ges. f. Bildung und Technik, 1. Auflage, Berlin 1994
A general History of Astronomy...
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