Arcetri's Astrophysics Observatory
Its origins derive from the Specola that adjoins the Physics and Natural History Museum, which is situated in Via Romana in Florence. As a consequence of the complex political successions connected with the French occupation of Tuscany, the Museum becomes an institution of the Etruria Kingdom.
Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany wanted the Observatory, while in 1807 the Queen of Etruria, Maria Luisa of Borbone, consecrated the " Royal Museum" for public education and established there six professors.
During the same year 1807, Domenico De Vecchi, one of the professors who settled there, held an astronomic theoretical-practical course, at the same time , he was carrying out astronomical and metereological observations. In fact, De Vecchi dedicated himself to the museum "specola" observing the position of the stars, comets, eclipses with the aim of studying weather and longitude.
When he died, the Frenchman Jean-Luis Pons, who became famous for the discovery of comets in Marseilles, succeeded him and, during his stay in Florence he continued to discover other comets.
In 1831, Grand Duke Leopoldo II appointed the modenese optician G. B. Amici to direct the florentine specola. G.B. Amici was already known in the field of astronomy and geodesy for his objectives and lenses; he brought other fellows from Modena with him who contributed to the revival of the optical traditions and mechanical precision found in Florence.
The construction of two objectives for telescopes , which are still in existence at the Observatory belongs to him.
In 1859 his pupil G. B. Donati succeeded him. Donati again begun the sky observation and suggested to build a new observatory on a raised area near Florence. The choice fell to the hill of Arcetri, closed by the villa "Il Gioiello"("The Jewel") where Galileo spent the end of his life. On October 27 1872 the new Observatory was inaugurated and Donati commited himself in order to put it into practice, but unfortunately cholera caused his death in 1873.
The German Ernst Wilhelm Tempel succeeded him. He was a lithographic draftsman and very keen on Astronomy: he dedicated himself to the discovery and observation of comets, small planets and neboulose, of which he made a consistent quantity of important draws and reliefs that won him the Royal Award of Lincei Academy.
Antonio Abetti took over as director from 1895 until 1921. A large number of planets and comets observations have been carried out by him by the newly completed equatorial frame made for Amici's objective.
In 1921 the Observatory activity in particular began to address to astrophysics research, under the direction of Giorgio Abetti, Antonio's son. It gained the ufficial title of "Astrophysics Observatory".
In 1924 a solar tower, dedicated to G.B. Donati, strenghtened the Observatory. It is 25 meters tall and has a spettroeliograph. Also the objective by Amici was substituted for a more powerful one.
In 1925 Giorgio Albetti was nominated to hold the chair of Astrophysics at the University of Florence, when, a year later, by a decree, the Observatory became a State observatory.