A Peek Into the Past at the Rome Observatory

Since I have began planning my trip to Rome, I have spent countless hours staring at maps of the city discovering one site after another.  One particular point surrounded in green leaped out at me: the Rome Observatory and the Astronomical and Copernican Museum.  Beginning in childhood, I have been insatiably intrigued by space and stars.  The vastness and size of the universe continues to amaze me daily.  When I found out there was an observatory in Rome, I immediately said, “I have to go there.”

The observatory is situated on a hill in Monte Mario, slightly northwest of Rome’s city center.  Just a little downhill from the observatory is the Copernican Museum.  For those who have long forgotten seventh grade science, Copernicus was the mathematician and astronomer who created the model of the universe in which the sun was at the center, instead of the earth.  Copernicus was born in Poland, but studied in many countries including Italy.  He first revealed his heliocentric view of the universe to his friends around 1514.

The Rome Observatory has a solar tower that continually tracks the daily movements of the sun as the earth orbits around it.  It also contains the Monte Porzio Telescope for looking at other parts of the universe.  The Copernican Museum holds an assortment of historical astronomical instruments including telescopes, time measuring tables and globes.

From some of my research, it appears that I would have to be part of a guided tour to go inside the observatory.  However, admission to the Copernican Museum is free.  It can be a bit tricky to get to the observatory as there is no bus or train that goes directly there.  I would have to take a bus to the bottom of the hill and then make a short 10-minute trek up to reach the museum and observatory.

The list of sites I want to see in Rome keeps getting longer.  I truly hope that I will be able to make time to visit the Rome Observatory and Copernican Museum in order to appreciate the significant milestones we have made in our understanding of the universe.  My inner child would surely thank me.

Photo: http://www.oa-roma.inaf.it

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