The Štefánik Observatory is located in the very heart of Prague, in Petřín’s parks at the Hunger Wall which was built during the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century. The observatory was opened on the 24th of June, 1928. In the middle of the 70s, a full-scale reconstruction gave the building its current appearance and it was reopened for the public in 1976. Since 1979, the Štefánik observatory has been a part of the Observatory and Planetarium of Prague. In the November 2018 the Observatory and Planetarium of Prague formed company Planetum.
Milan R. Štefánik, born 1880 in Slovakia, was a soldier, general of the French army, pilot, diplomat and the co-founder of the Czechoslovak state. He was also a scientist and an astronomer. Štefánik studied astronomy at Prague’s Charles University, worked in the observatory in Meudon close to Paris, participated in many expeditions to solar eclipses all around the world, built an observatory in Tahiti and was awarded several scientific prizes. He died in an airplane crash in 1919.
The observatory has three domes and one observation lodge. The domes are named according to their approximate position in the building (Western, Main and Eastern).
In the Western Dome, the Maksutov-Cassegrain mirror telescope has been in place since 1976. The diameter of the main mirror is 370 mm. Its magnification power for observation varies from approx. 80 to 330 times. The total weight of the telescope is 2.5 tons. The dome is open for public and suitable for observation of objects such as star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.
The Main Dome hosts a double Zeiss astrograph, named after the Viennese selenographer Koenig. Built in the years 1905–07 the instrument has been used mainly for Moon mapping and sky photography. After Koenig’s death in 1929 it was bought and placed here. Nowadays it is used for public observations of the Sun, the Moon and planets. For the observation of prominences a special chromosperical telescope Lunt, that is connected with double Zeiss astrograph, can be used.
The Eastern Dome is currently used for scientific observation of variable stars and exoplanet transits. Since 1999 it has been equipped with a 40 cm mirror telescope by Meade.
Nowadays the observatory specializes above all in popularization of astronomy and related natural sciences. Undoubtedly the most interesting thing the observatory can offer are our public daytime and night-time observations of the sky available the whole year round when the weather conditions allow. You can also visit our comprehensive astronomical exhibition with detailed information about the universe, astrophysics and astronautics in English. It contains a number of interactive experiments, unique collection of historical instruments and also a collection of meteorites and tektites from all over the world. Some of the highlights include samples originating from the Moon, Mars and the asteroid Vesta.
Our observatory offers a modern permanent astronomical exhibition reviewing the basics of astronomy. You can visit the domes with telescopes. In suitable weather it is possible to observe the sky. Our English-speaking employees and co-workers will be ready to answer your questions.
During the day we observe the Sun. The telescope in the main dome enables us to observe the solar disk, with sunspots as well as solar flares, through a chromospheric telescope. At nighttime, observation focuses on the Moon and the planets of the Solar System when they are most visible. It is also possible to look beyond the boundaries of the Solar System and observe selected stars, nebulas, star clusters or galaxies.
For groups giving advance notice, we can arrange a showing in English of the movie The Universe Near and Distant or Prague Astronomical. This audiovisual presentation is about our closest surroundings, the Solar system, as well as distant galaxies.
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For family discount, 1-2 adults and 1-4 children up to 15 years of age can apply.
Students are kindly asked to present a valid student identity card.
Adress: Štefánikova hvězdárna, Petřín 205, 118 46 Prague 1, Czech Republic
Phone number: +420 257 320 540
The founder of the observatory and planetarium is the capital city Prague.