Astronomical Observatory

Haec domus Uraniae est:

Curae procul este profanae!

Temnitur hic humilis telus:

Hinc itur ad astra.

Indeed, from here the human gaze rose towards the stars. Vilnius University Observatory was founded in 1753 and at that time it was then the first observatory in the entire Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and even in the whole continent of Europe. The observatory was established by Tomasz Żebrowski (1714-1758), a Jesuit, astronomer, mathematician, doctor of philosophy, and liberal sciences.

The golden age of the observatory is associated with the rectors of Vilnius University – Marcin Poczobutt (1728-1810) and Jan Sniadecki (1756-1830). The southern annex of the observatory was built in 1782-1788 by architect Marcin Knakfus. Under their rule, numerous important observations of small planets, comets, occultations, and various measurements of geographical coordinates were carried out.

In 1777 Marcin Poczobutt invented a new constellation – “Taureau Royal de Poniatowski” – named in honor of the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Stanislaus August Poniatowski. The new constellation was included almost in all-sky atlases of the late 18th and beginning of the 19th century.

At the end of the 18th century, professors of Vilnius University were renowned because of innovative methods and their application in the sciences. Learn more about how a professor of Vilnius university tamed electricity and used it for treatment by clicking this link.

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