Inspired by a passion for astronomy, the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Siena opened in 2004. Within the university complex at Porta Romana, the observatory has gathered together the instruments and the personnel who founded the University’s first observational structure in Chianti during the 1990s.
The Observatory is a laboratory where university students, as well as school pupils at all levels, learn to become familiar with the sky and to use instruments and the most modern technologies for the remote control of observations and for the acquisition and analysis of astronomical images.
These skills make it possible to carry out small research projects in the field of asteroids, variable stars, exoplanets and active galactic nuclei.
Through targeted educational proposals, the Observatory participates in the Scientific Education for Active and Conscious Citizenship (ESCAC) project and offers guidance tracks for high schools, which can also be configured as work-school projects or Paths for Transversal Skills and for Orientation (PCTO).
Guided observation evenings are often organized in collaboration with other local associations, allowing members of the general public the opportunity to get closer to the starry sky.
The instrumentation of the Observatory is housed in a spherical dome of 3 meters in diameter which, although close to the city, enjoys a clear view of the night sky from east to west. The main telescope is a Maksutov-Cassegrain made by Zen Optical Constructions (D = 30 cm., F = 1650 mm.), placed on a German Comec 10-micron GM2000-QCI equatorial mount. An Sbig STL-6303 CCD equipped with filter wheel, Optec TCF-S focuser and Optec Pyxis field rotator is used for image acquisition.
The dome and all the instruments are fully operable remotely.
The Museum System of the University of Siena (Sistema Museale dell’Università di Siena—SIMUS) is the tangible result of centuries of study and research carried out in and around Siena. The System constitutes a summa on the evolution of thought, scientific or otherwise, through collections of tools, finds, educational models, memorabilia and archival documents. Thanks to the passionate commitment of researchers and university staff, museum resources of this sort continue in the present day to provide an effective educational tool to be used in teaching and disseminating knowledge.
The Astronomical Observatory: for anyone who is interested in astronomy and curious to get to know celestial bodies from up-close, the Observatory, in collaboration with other local groups and associations, organizes conferences, visits, and public guided observation evenings to view the starry sky!
Astronomical Observatory (Museum System of the University of Siena)
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente-Sezione di Fisica
Via Roma, 56
For further information:
tel. 0577 232331
during all the year
can be visited by appointment or during events
guided visits available
“In the fiery and concentrated beauty of Siena there is an artificial note that recalls a city perched atop a hill in an old painting. From the fortifications one views the entire city, the white and brown houses, with brown-hued roofs and smooth façades pierced by multiple windows. […] All around reigns the peace of a green world, now sloping down into valleys strewn with red earth and veiled by the gray mist of the olive trees, with cypresses reaching darkly into the sky, now rising into hills”. (A. Symons, 1907)
In Siena, the flavor, the taste, the view of the city are still the same as those evoked by the words of the English poet who visited and certainly fell in love with the place more than a century ago. Siena sits composedly, perched on its hills. Move away just a little, and you can take it in all at once, the unmistakable skyline of its elongated silhouette, its walls, the Torre del Mangia and the dome of the Cathedral. And it is not even so different, in certain glimpses, from the way its most beloved painters depicted it in the 1300s and 1400s, from Lorenzetti to Simone Martini, from Sano di Pietro to Vecchietta.
The city’s sensual and harmonious relationship with the landscape that surrounds and protects it is also fundamentally unchanged. The hills, cypresses, red earth and olive trees can be reached on foot by walking out through the ancient gates, or else still inside the city, in the protected and precious green valleys that have remained within the walls.
With its slow, almost dreamlike way of life, Siena should be visited calmly, for it needs to be savoured unhurriedly. Stroll through Siena and let yourself be guided by curiosity. Slip into the alleys, look for quiet hidden places, explore a museum, a church or a beautiful palazzo.