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Solar Observatory Einsteintower

The Solar Observatory Einsteintower (“Einsteinturm”) - a laboratory for spectro-polarimetry -  was the first important work of the famous architect Erich Mendelsohn. It was designed and built during the years 1919 to 1924 in collaboration with the physicist Albert Einstein and the astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich.


The Einstein Tower is a functional building, a solar observatory, which was scientifically Europe’s most important solar telescope until the Second World War. It was originally built in order to prove the redshift of solar spectral lines, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity. However, without a proper understanding of solar convection at the time, the observations remained inconclusive. The building underwent major renovation works during the years 1997 to 1999, which were in large part funded by the Wüstenrot Foundation.

 

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The Einsteintower houses to this day a very efficient 63cm telescope combined with a long-focus spectrograph. Under favorable conditions the instrument reaches a spatial resolution of 1“-2“. The modernized mechanical and optical equipment allows a spectral resolving power of 10^6.


Observations focus on spectropolarimetric measurements in solar active regions. The analysis of the polarization of the light permits the determination of the magnetic field and radial velocities on the surface of the Sun. The permanent availability of this large telescope, spectrograph and associated laboratory facilities is important for the education of young scientists as well as the development and testing of new spectro-polarimetric equipment for subsequent use at other large telescopes. In this sense, the Einstein Tower is an indispensable complement to the German solar telescopes at Tenerife.

 

More information about the Einsteintower.