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Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri

Heirs of Galileo

Osservatorio Astrofisico

Despite residing on the edge of a big city, the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri still does serious astronomical work: on the Sun, on star clusters, on the origins of the universe and the birth of galaxies. It was completed in 1872, and the 25m Solar Tower added in 1925. Today it's a very busy centre for research, employing over 200 people; although the observatory isn’t open to the public, astronomers offer tours of the heavens at the planetarium in the Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica e Planetario.

Florence has been exploring plans for a major museum of astronomy at Arcetri. The site is a natural; besides the Observatory, Arcetri has the nearby Villa Il Gioiello, where Galileo spent his last years (now part of the Museo di Storia Naturale), and also the landmark Torre del Gallo, a 14th-century tower restored by art dealer Stefano Bardini (founder of the Museo Bardini). The Torre, with its commanding views over the city, and its pretty garden loggias by Brunelleschi, was to be the main part of the museum; unfortunately it has recently been purchased as a private residence, so the museum's planners are back to square one.

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by INAF