First plans

The building of the observatory was a long period full of disputes. The university’s first astronomical centers were in down-town: near the present Barclay Square and in Riga Street near the first Botanical Gardens of the university. Already at the beginning of 1803 the discussion of establishing a permanent observatory had started at the meetings of the University Construction Committee. For a long time it was planned to built the observatory into the towers of the Dome Church. In 1803 Krause wrote to Rector Parrot about his visions connected with the ruins of the Dome Church: “One more dream – the observatory /…./ the astronomers should take care how they can climb up, I believe climbing the stairs of the wall - per aspera ad astra!”. In the letter of G. F. Parrot as of April 1803 it is written: “…in the same structure the sky of the astronomer, the moral person and the writer can be seen.”

Initial idea – the observatory in the ruins of the church with the library and the church, April 1803 (TÜR. 9-25. P 4)

The observatory was not only an architectural structure. To fulfill its functions in the best way, it was necessary to get help from specialists; the physicist Rector Parrot, the mathematics and astronomy professor Pfaff and his successor Huth, the mathematics and general astronomy lecturer Knorre and the construction specialist Lange. Among other things Parrot ordered a plan of ideas from Franz Xavier Zach (1754-1852) who was the head of the most contemporary Seeberg observatory at that time, built in 1790 in Gotha. Zach was the first who understood that the observatory did not have to be in a tower as the earlier observatories but it was more important to place the observation instruments in a right manner on a firm basis. Following the example of Gotha, the Tartu observatory was also positioned in the east-west direction with the rotating tower with the dome and the observation slits in the wings. At the same time - in 1803-1816 - the Observatory of Göttingen was built according to the new principles.

Knorre’s basic plan of the observatory, recommended by F. X. Zach, 1803 (EAA. 2100-11-143. P. 6a).

In 1804 the highest part of the south-eastern Dome Hill was selected for the location of the observatory. The remains of the medieval bishop’s castle made construction more difficult. In 1807 the final design was adopted but the main building of the university had become a priority in the meanwhile. The location of the tower in the design was repeatedly changed (in the end it was in the front) and in addition, in the spring of 1808 it was decided to build the tower higher by 11 feet. The cost of construction became higher and the observatory was completed by the end of 1810. The instruments necessary in the tower were kept on the vaults of the intermediary floor.

The drawings of the observatory by Paucker, 1808 or 1809. (EAA. 2100-11-143. P. 9a).

The astronomer’s living house was completed in 1821, the attic room was added in 1830.

The plan of the astronomer’s living house, 1819 (TÜR. 9- 33. P. 8)