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Research Kapteyn Institute The Blaauw Observatory

Blaauw Observatory

The dome on top of the Bernoulliborg

Since 2008, the University of Groningen has a real observatory on the Zernike Campus: the Blaauw Observatory. The observatory is placed on top of the Bernoulliborg building. Whoever drives via the Zonnelaan to the Zernike Campus can see the shiny dome from far away. The aim of the observatory is to allow students to gain experience with doing astronomical observations and furthermore to show the Universe to the general public. For the latter, among other things, public evenings are organized regularly. The observatory was named after the Groningen astronomer Adriaan Blaauw and was officially opened by Rector Magnificus Zwarts on September 11, 2008.

Students getting started

The University of Groningen is one of four places in the Netherlands where the subject of astronomy can be studied. In order to gain experience with doing astronomical research, students from Groningen travel to the Canary Islands every year. They will do observations with a professional telescope for a week. In order to prepare them, the students will do some observations with the telescope of the Blaauw observatory. In this way, they already experienced what you will need for and what it is like to do an astronomical research. Now they are prepared to observe with a large telescope.

Shot of the planetary nebula M27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula. (see Results tab)
Shot of the planetary nebula M27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula. (see Results tab)

Visit the observatory yourself!

The observatory is regularly open to public. Here you will find more information about the public evenings. During these evenings you can marvel at the beauty of the Universe. If you have never seen the craters on the Moon, the rings of planet Saturn or objects far in the universe, you should definitely come by! If the sky is not clear enough to use the telescope, interesting lectures will be held about our place in the Universe. To see a short video report, you can click on the "Start" icon on the video above.

The observatory

The observatory has a 40 cm reflector telescope of the type Ritchey-Chrétien. It is one of the largest telescopes in the Netherlands. The telescope has high quality optics and is ideal for photographing objects located deep in the universe. Photography is done with a special digital camera, which is extremely sensitive to weak objects. Purchasing the telescope was made possible by a subsidy from the Gratama foundation. More information about the telescope can be found here.

The telescope is located in a dome having a diameter 6.5 meters and has enough space to fit 25 people. A company called Ashdome from the United States supplied the dome. The telescope can be controlled from a small control room. In the control room you can also find a small spectroscope room. To capture spectra, the light received from the telescope can be led to this room using a glass fibre. In this way, students can determine the chemical composition of, for example, stars, galaxies or the Sun.

The 40 cm Ritchey-Chrétien mirror telescope.
The 40 cm Ritchey-Chrétien mirror telescope.
Last modified:31 July 2021 10.36 a.m.
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