Astronomy: The 1.5 m reflecting telescope in the Leopold Figl Observatory on Schöpfl mountain, Lower Austria.
Astronomy: The first home of the science of astronomy in Austria was the University of Vienna, founded in 1365. The fame of the 1st Vienna School of Astronomy 100 years later was linked to the names of Johannes von Gmunden, Georg von Peuerbach and Regiomontanus. Provost Georg I. Muestinger of Klosterneuburg also promoted astronomy. Towards the end of the 16th century, the patronage of Emperor Rudolf II was especially helpful in the development of this science; he called the Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe (1546-1601) to Austria. J. Kepler also worked for the longest period of his career in Austria. At the beginning of the 18th century, the court mathematician J. Marinoni constructed an observatory tower on the roof of his house and furnished it primarily with homemade instruments. Encouraged and led by Marinoni, the Jesuits followed suit with their own observatory atop their collegiate building in 1733.
In 1755 the University Observatory was built in the newly completed university building; the observatory was equipped with Marinoni's instruments and headed by Maximilian Hell. The Vienna University Observatory created the first periodical publication for astronomy as an appendix to the Ephemerides, which were published from 1757 (10 years before the English, almost 20 years before the Berlin Academy) until 1807. Hell's students and assistants, A. Pilgram, F. Triesnecker and J. T. Bürg, continued his work. Along with the observatory in Vienna, the Kremsmünster (Upper Austria) monastery's "Mathematische Turm", constructed 1748-1759 by the abbots A. Fixlmüller and A. Desing, also produced high-quality results. The meridian circle set up there in 1908 is the only one in Austria which is still in operation to this day and still produces results.
At the University of Vienna, "On the Heavens and Earth" ("Über Himmel und Erde") lectures were held continuously from 1391 to 1882. In the 19th century, distinguished names in the history of Austrian astronomy appeared: J. J. and K. L. von Littrow, C. Doppler, the pioneer of the new science of astronomy which included physics in its methods, and T. von Oppolzer, a master of algorithmic astronomical calculations. K. L. v. Littrow distinguished himself by his great accomplishments in the construction of the new Vienna University Observatory on the Türkenschanze in the 19th district of Vienna. At the time, equipping an observatory with modern instruments and apparatus was not immediately possible.
However, a large number of ideas originated at the Vienna University Observatory, for example under E. Weiß and K. Graff. While Weiß, his successor and his students remained loyal to classical astronomy, the connection to modern physical astronomy was established by R. Spitaler (astrophotography), J. Palisa (planetoid research) and J. Holetschek (comets and nebulae). Around 1900, the private observatory established in Ottakring (16th district of Vienna) by the brewery owner M. Kuffner was for a short time better known to the public than the University Observatory. This was mainly due to the work of L. de Ball and S. Oppenheim. Other (mainly theoretically orientated) astronomy scholars before and after World War II were J. Hepperger, K. Hillebrand, A. Prey and K. Schütte.
After 1955, binary star and lunar research (J. Hopmann) in Vienna as well as solar physics (Kanzelhöhe solar observatory of the University of Graz, H. Haupt) yielded important data. In 1965 the Leopold-Figl-Observatorium für Astrophysik (Leopold Figl Astrophysics Observatory) on Schöpfl mountain was established (inaugurated on September 25, 1969). A. Purgathofer and R. Rakos worked there alongside their international research projects. The field of theoretical astronomy and the history of astronomy was studied by K. Ferrari d´Occhieppo, the field of classic observational astronomy by P. Jackson in Vienna, the field of radioastronomy by J. Pfleiderer in Innsbruck. Small planets were also studied in Graz. Through membership in the ESA (European Space Agency), Austrian astronomers are able to gain access to astronomical experiments on space platforms.