SHORT HISTORY OF THE ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY OF PADOVA 
FROM FOUNDATION TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Plot
Giuseppe Toaldo 
(1719 - 1797)

On May 21 1761, the Senate of the Republic of Venice issued a decree instituting an astronomical observatory at the University of Padova. This decision followed a suggestion by the Riformatori dello Studio, the Venetian magistrates responsible for the proper government of the University of Padova, and had matured within the framework of a complex program of reform of the University, with new teaching chairs and the constitution of new scientific ‘establishments’, the role of which, in modern terms, was to be that of allowing professors to ‘experiment’ and to instruct their students in the practice of experimentation.

It was not until four years later, in September 1765, that the professor of astronomy, geography and meteors, the abbé Giuseppe Toaldo (1719-97), was ordered to visit the main Italian observatories to gather information on how to build an observatory and on the instruments necessary for an astronomer’s work. 
On his return, Toaldo was required to present a budget and a project, and in December 1765, the architect Don Domenico Cerato (1715-92) was summoned from the nearby city of Vicenza. Cerato was a friend of Toaldo’s and had been a fellow student with him at the episcopal Seminary at Padova, and the abbé believed, with good reason, that Cerato was one of the best architects of the time.

Plot
The old castle, before the transformation

As the best place on which to build the observatory, Toaldo proposed the high tower of theCastel Vecchio, the old castle, with its thick, solid walls. This tower was eminently suitable for such a transformation: in addition to allowing much money to be saved, it was on the southern outskirts of the city, and from its top the eye could range freely across the whole of the southern horizon. It was an ideal place for future astronomers to work in. And indeed, it is to the south, on the celestial meridian, that stars ‘culminate’, that is, they reach their highest position above the horizon during their apparent daily motion, and may thus be observed more easily. Thus it was that the old Medieval castle was transformed into an astronomical specola (specula is the Latin word for observatory).

Plot
South cross-section showing the transformation of the old tower in ‘Specola’. 
From an original drawing by Domenico Cerato

Building work was begun in 1767 and continued for ten years.

News – MEDIA INAF

Il notiziario online dell'Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica
  • Nel periodo più movimentato del Sistema solare, cioè durante la formazione dei pianeti, Giove e Saturno avrebbero scagliato planetesimi e bolidi pieni di acqua verso la parte interna più vicina al Sole. Il disco protoplanetario era già carico di acqua prima della nascita della Terra. Questa le conclusioni di due ricercatori presentate in un articolo sulla rivista Icarus

  • Era stata momentaneamente messa da parte perché sopravanzata da altre due più importanti, ma ora è stata annunciata in un articolo in via di pubblicazione su Astrophysical Journal la quinta osservazione di onde gravitazionali prodotte dalla fusione di una coppia di buchi neri, rilevata l'8 giugno scorso dagli interferometri Ligo

  • Una medaglia di bronzo per la categoria Junior è il bilancio della partecipazione della nostra squadra nazionale italiana all'edizione 2017 della competizione internazionale, che quest'anno è stata ospitata dalla città cinese di Weihai

  • Il presidente dell'Inaf Nichi D'Amico ricorda lo scienziato italiano, uno dei padri più autorevoli della nuova astronomia “multimessenger”

  • Un articolo uscito oggi su Science basato sui dati raccolti dall'esperimento High-Altitude Water Cherenkov, in Messico, mette in dubbio l’ipotesi che i positroni in eccesso misurati attorno alla Terra siano prodotti dalle pulsar più prossime al Sistema solare. E tra gli indiziati c’è anche la materia oscura

  • È della Nebulosa di Orione la primissima immagine ottenuta da Ztf, Zwicky Transient Facility, il nuovo, potente strumento approntato allo storico osservatorio californiano di Monte Palomar per scandagliare velocemente il cielo notturno alla ricerca di fenomeni luminosi transitori, come le esplosioni di supernove

Go to top

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.

EU Cookie Directive Module Information