The Astrophysical Observatory of Asiago was founded by the University of Padova in 1942 as the dedicated site for astronomical research. It was then the largest telescope in Europe, a reflector with a primary mirror of 122-cm in diameter, named after G. Galilei in the 300th anniversary of his death.
With this instrument great results have been obtained in the past, particularly in the fields of variable stars, novae, supernovae and galaxies, producing a large and invaluable Data Archive.
Today, more than fifty years after its construction, although the research methods of modern astrophysics have greatly improved, the "Galileo" telescope goes on with research and education activities thanks to the continuous updates to the control and acquisition systems.
In the present configuration the instrument is used both for scientific purposes (e.g. survey of transient phenomena on stellar objects), and
for practice in laboratory night observations for the University degree courses of Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics, Geology and Natural Sciences.
Since 2001 the Department has started an educational project targeted at students of the secondary school, with observative and data reduction stages at the Observatory of Asiago, as support to school science curricula and guide to their future choice of University courses.
It is also planned to use the 122-cm telescope as a test bench for advanced optical techniques foreseen for future 50-100 m diameter telescopes.
The location of the Observatory is on a hill on the Asiago Plateau, at an altitude of 1040 m, protected by a surrounding ring of pine trees.
The main buildings were built in the 1930s following a project by the architect Daniele Calabi, with a very suggestive design which still makes it one of the most fascinating astronomical sites.
In the vast area are set the dome of the "Galileo" telescope with its control room, the offices building the workshop and the guest quarters.
The Asiago site hosts also the Schmidt telescope dome of the Astronomical Observatory of Padova. This dome is now used for outreach activities while the telescope itself (67/92-cm, built in 1967) was moved in 1992 to the Cima Ekar Observing Site, at an altitude of 1350 m, some 12 km from the historical location of the domes. This site houses all the main instruments of the Astronomical Observatory of Padova, (INAF) among which the "Copernico" 182-cm reflecting telescope, still the largest on Italian soil (the Galileo National Telescope (TNG) being located in the Canary Islands).
Historical Photographic Archive of the Astrophysical Observatory
|The 122-cm telescope and dome at the Astrophysical Observatory of Asiago