Celebratory reopening of the Great Refractor

19 July 2017. The Great Refractor of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) on the Potsdam Telegrafenberg campus shines in new splendor after the repair work and reconstruction has been carried out for around a year. Dr. Martina Münch, Minister of Science, Research and Culture of the state of Brandenburg, attended the reopening and gave a greeting.
Celebratory reopening of the Great Refractor

The building with the Great Refractor

The Great Refractor of the AIP is a monument of astrophysical research and a landmark of Potsdam. The huge lens telescope was inaugurated for the first time on 26 August 1899, in the presence of Emperor Wilhelm II as the main telescope of the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam. Today, it is still the fourth largest lens telescope in the world.

Science minister Martina Münch honored the restored Great Refractor as an important scientific landmark in Potsdam. "The Great Refractor and Telegrafenberg campus were important science centers not only more than 100 years ago - they are still today. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam is an outstanding non-university research institution in the state of Brandenburg and has been one of the most renowned and research-oriented scientific institutions in Germany for years", says Münch. Matthias Winker, administrative head of the AIP, gave the welcome adress. In addition to the minister, Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, chairman of the board and scientific director of the AIP, greeted the guests. Monument protection expert Jörg Limberg gave a lecture on the structural aspects and the renovation of the dome building. Between May 2016 and May 2017, numerous specialist companies and skilled workers carried out the repair work.

The telescope is a double refractor with two fixed telescopes on an equatorial mount. The larger tube has an 80 cm lens and a focal length of 12.2 meters. The smaller lens, designed for visual observation, has a diameter of 50 centimeters and a focal length of 12.5 meters. The diameter of the rotating 200-tonne dome is 21 meters. In 1904, diffuse interstellar matter was discovered by Johannes Hartmann, using the Great Refractor.


Science contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, +49 331 7499-801, sek-vorstand@aip.de

Media contact: Kristin Riebe, Janine Fohlmeister, +49 331 7499-803, presse@aip.de

The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic  astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.