Visit the Astronomers’ Garden at Kuffner Observatory

Kuffner Observatory

Kuffner Observatory in Vienna. (IAU / T. Heenatigala)

Are you looking for a place to relax after a long day at the GA? We have a little gem within the city limits for you! Escape the heat of the city and relax in Kuffner Observatory‘s beautiful garden admiring the authentic and intact 19th-century observatory.

Moriz von Kuffner, a Jewish entrepreneur, beer-brewer and mountaineer founded Kuffner Observatory in 1884. As an amateur astronomer, Kuffner’s goal was to build a scientific institution. It was used by many amateur and professional astronomers over the decades; now it is used almost daily (actually nightly!) for public outreach. Visitors can look at a range of instruments, including the world’s largest heliometer, which was responsible for 16 of the 100 star distances known reasonably accurately in 1917. You can also see the astrograph that Karl Schwarzschild used to lay the foundations of 20th-century photometry.

The observatory offers a beautiful garden with trees and benches — a perfect setting to reflect on a day’s work at the GA or to get a little breather. The observatory is located in Ottakring district and can be reached within an hour from the Austria Centre Vienna (ACV) by public transportation.

If you stay till nightfall and the sky is clear, you’ll also get the opportunity to observe the Moon, Mars, and other celestial highlights through the observatory’s original 1886 telescope. It’s also worth visiting the Heurigen wine gardens a few steps from the observatory to enjoy some local wine, perhaps with some local citizens.

THILINA HEENATIGALA is a science communicator focused on engaging students & the public via new media. A native of Sri Lanka, he works with Leiden Observatory (Netherlands) as the Assistant Editor of IAU’s astroEDU. His science, travel and poetry adventures can be found on Twitter and Instagram.