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From Stonehenge to Keck: Architecture and Astronomy C. G. De Pree RARE CATS Green Bank, WV June 2002.

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Presentation on theme: "From Stonehenge to Keck: Architecture and Astronomy C. G. De Pree RARE CATS Green Bank, WV June 2002."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Stonehenge to Keck: Architecture and Astronomy C. G. De Pree RARE CATS Green Bank, WV June 2002

2 Questions n Why have societies observed the heavens since ancient times? n What sort of structures have been associated with observing the sky? n How have these structures changed with time?

3 Overview n Ancient Observatories n 16th and 17th Century Observatories n Early Modern (19th century) Observatories n Modern Observatories

4 Ancient Observatories n Stonehenge/Newgrange n Chichen Itza, Caracol Tower n Locations –Horizon line n Uses –Religious –Timekeeping –Ceremonial

5 Newgrange (3200 BCE) n Aligned to winter solstice (light interior) n One of thousands of sites in Europe –Stonehenge

6 Caracol (Snail) Tower n Location: Chichen Itza, Northern Yucatan n Period: Mayan, c AD n Interior: 16.7 m-diameter tower with spiral staircase and four doorways aligned with cardinal directions n Upper room: 7 openings aligned with the equinoxes and the S transit of Venus

7 Caracol Tower at Chichen Itza

8 Caracol Tower n Astronomical function: solstice and equinox alignments, some star alignments n Religious function: apparent alignments with Venus –Mayan tablets mention the rising of Venus –Worship of the wind god Ehecatl

9 16th to 18th Century Observatories n Uraniborg/Stjarneborg (Tycho Brahe) n L’Observatoire de Paris –Louis XIV n Royal Greenwich Observatory –Flamsteed, Astronomer Royal

10 Uraniborg Castle n Location: Island of Hven n Date: (pre-telescope) n Complex included: castle, observatory, papermill, earthworks, dams and ponds n Subsidized by Danish State (~1% of national budget) n Purpose: determine accurate planetary positions

11 Uraniborg: Grounds and Interior n Castle too small n Mounts unstable

12 Stjarneborg Observatory n Funded by Danish king Frederick II n Lost funding under Christian IV (1596) n Brahe came under patronage of the German emperor Rudolf II n Relocated to Observatory near Prague (1599)

13 Paris Observatory n n Louis XIV funds `l'Observatoire Royal’ n n Architect: Claude Perrault (ded. 1672) n n Oriented with the cardinal points of the compass (in 1667) n n Paris latitude: Latitude of the south face n n Paris longitude: Meridian line passing through building center

14 Paris Observatory--Planned Uses n n Offices for astronomers/academics n n Lecture hall and laboratories n n Instruments dedicated to the astronomical observations

15 Old Greenwich Royal Observatory n Location: Greenwich, England n Founded: 22 June, 1675 by King Charles II n Primary purpose: To solve the problem of finding longitude n John Flamsteed, Astronomer Royal n Observatory added functions over time

16 17-18th Century Interiors Observing/Reception Room Flamsteed Apartment

17 Meridian Building n Houses a ten-foot transit instrument, installed in 1816 n Bradley's original transit instrument is shown

18 Airy Transit Circle n Sir George Biddell Airy (7th Astronomer Royal) designed a transit instrument, installed in 1850 n Transit circle: special type of telescope moves in a vertical circle n Transit circles used to accurately measure stellar positions

19 Altazimuth Pavilion n n The Altazimuth Pavilion (1899) n n Named after the altaz telescope originally installed in its dome n n Dome now contains a 'photoheliograph’ (solar projection) n n Weather vane over the dome represents Halley's Comet as seen in the Bayeux tapestry

20 The South Building n n Originally called the New Physical Building (1899) n n Astronomer Royal, William Christie (architect William Crisp) n n 4 wings housed branches: magnetic and meteorological, astro-photography, time, and library n n The dome originally accommodated a 30-inch (76.2 cm) reflecting telescope

21 Jantar Mantar n Jantar Mantar: five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II n Locations: New Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. n Built AD 1724–1730


23 Samrat Yantra (Gnomon) n Gnomon 90 feet high, points toward Polaris n Used to find time and declination and hour angle of stars and planets n Either side of the gnomon is a masonry quadrant –to read time –steps provided

24 Early Modern Observatories (19th C) n More remote locations (outside cities) n Still show integration of observing structure, teaching space and research space n e.g. Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (1897)

25 Yerkes n n Architect: Henry Ives Cobb n n Funded: Charles Yerkes (Chicago streetcars) n n Astronmer: George Ellery Hale (U. Chicago) n n Exterior: Animals, signs of the Zodiac, phases of the Moon n n Architecture and technology of late 19th century, 77-acre site

26 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago/Installation

27 Yerkes: 40 in Refractor

28 Yerkes: Architectural Detail

29 Modern Observatories n Separation between observing structure and office/research structure –Mt Wilson Telescopes/Cal Tech –Keck I and Keck II/Waimea headquarters/Cal Tech –Very Large Array/Array Operations Center/NRAO –HST/NGST/NASA/STScI

30 Palomar Observatory n George Ellery Hale (Yerkes) n Grants from Carnegie Institution of Washington n Mount Wilson 60-inch reflector first completed (1908) n Harlow Shapley measures the size of the MW and our position in it n 1928, $6 million grant from Rockefeller

31 n Mt. Wilson 100-in & 200-in telescopes

32 Keck Headquarters n n Located in Waimea n n Telescopes are 48 miles from HQ n n Most employees work at headquarters n n technicians and engineers commute daily to summit n n Annual budget $11 million

33 Keck Telescope

34 Keck Control Room

35 Very Large Array

36 VLA (view looking South)

37 Orbiting Observatories n Hubble Space Telescope (HST) n Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) n Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)


39 Reflections n Astronomical architecture has evolved along with astronomical technology n Telescopes and the structures that house them are becoming more and more remote from most people n From earliest times, there are alignments with cardinal points n Growing separation between instruments and observers


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