The Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy has three observatories in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timişoara comprising several scientific research facilities.
Bucharest Astronomical Observatory
Founded in 1908 in the area of the Filaret Hill, the Bucharest Observatory has a park of scientific buildings, instruments and equipments operated in the same area and in other locations. The main building of the Observatory has an Equatorial Dome, a scientific and administrative section, a Meridian Hall and a Planetarium Hall, the last two being under development as educational facilities.
The Equatorial Dome has a 11.5 m diameter mobile cupola and a 6 m long Prin-Mertz telescope and uses a mobile circular platform as an elevator to operate the telescope. The Astrograph, as it is also named, is the largest refracting telescope in Romania. The telescope and the technical elements of the dome were produced in France, being installed by Romanian construction companies. The architectural plans of the Observatory were made by the Belgium architect Adolphe Engels while the coordination of the construction teams was done by the Romanian engineer Mihail Roco. The construction work started in 1910 and ended two years later, but without a full completion of the initial project. The main building has an engineering style with two basement levels and one floor. Today, it is a scientific, administrative and education facility providing the work space for dynamic research teams who are integrated through their projects and studies in the global scientific community.
In 1999, a Planetarium was added to the northern side of the main building. The project belongs to the architect Octav Dimitriu and the construction activities at the work site were done under the coordination of the civil engineer Radu Popescu.
Inside the Sun Building, a construction located in the northern part of the Institute’s park, other scientific areas and the over a century old archive of Bucharest Observatory are hosted. The building has a neo-clasical architectural style and it was erected in 1893. Since then, it had several important restorations.
In the Institute’s park are also located: the Small Meridian Hall, the Sun Dome, the Telescope Building, the Astrolabe Building and the old Bosianu House.
The Small Meridian Hall was built in 1893 and was the first stable construction in the country designated for the purpose of astronomical research, initially being a part of the Meteorological Institute of Romania.
The Sun Dome is a specialized facility built in 1958, where the scientific staff of the Institute makes a live monitoring of the Sun by using several Zeiss telescopes and CCD cameras.
The Telescope Building is a scientific facility built in 1962 which currently hosts the largest telescope of the Institute, recently overhauled in order to be used again in the research field. A similar purpose has the Astrolabe Building where a 0.4 m telescope scrutinizes the sky.
The oldest construction on the Institute’s domain is the Bosianu House. The exact date of its construction is not known, but the historical sources indicate that it appeared a few years before the creation of modern Romania in 1859, through the union between Wallachia (Ţara Românească) and Moldova. In the Bosianu House, took place the meetings between the Romanian patriots who prepared the historical moment of the Union of 1859. Among the politicians, diplomats and cultural personalities who were present in this house, was Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first ruler of Romania.
The Romantic architectural style of the Bosianu House, with beautiful and exotic decorations, remained unchanged over time, being preserved in all the conservation work done for this building. The architect who designed it is not known for sure but the historians give credit in this respect to Luigi Lipizer. The plan of the building uses repeatedly the octagonal shape and keeps an ordered structure with two notable alterations: the presence of the tower with a staircase and the access to its basement.
The Bosianu House is today the specialized library of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy.
Cluj-Napoca Astronomical Observatory
The Observatory was constructed between 1921-1934 and was demolished in 1977 to be replaced by a new scientific facility since 1982. The founding initiative of the Astronomical Observatory in Cluj-Napoca belonged to Gheorghe Bratu, a scientist, professor of Mathematics and Dean of the Sciences Faculty at the „King Ferdinand I” University (present day „Babeş-Bolyai University”). The development drive and initial equipping with scientific instruments were done under the leadership of the first director of the Observatory, Gheorghe Demetrescu.
The building of the observatory is today shared between the research staff of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy and the scientists of the "Babes-Bolyai" University’s observatory. The main instruments of the Astronomical Institute in Cluj-Napoca are set up on the Feleac hill, 8 km outside the city.
Timişoara Astronomical Observatory
Timişoara Observatory appeared in 1962 as a didactic facility of Timişoara University. The initiative for its creation belonged to the astronomer and seismologist Ioan Curea, considered the founder of this institution. His experience in the astrophysics research field as well as in the astronomical education, which he acquired during the period he worked at Cluj-Napoca Observatory, allowed a rapid development of the new Observatory in Timişoara.
The Observatory from Timisoara is placed in a small building endowed with a dome for observations, where the telescope is set. This building is located in a park, which has an area of about 3 hectares.
Bucharest Astronomical Observatory
The Meridian Hall of Bucharest Astronomical Observatory