Strasbourg astronomical Observatory (ObAS) is an Observatory, a faculty of the Strasbourg University (Unistra), and a mixed research unit from CNRS and Unistra. As such, ObAS provides services to the entire astronomical community, contributes to teaching, conducts research activities in many fields of astrophysics and takes part in public outreach. It also preserves rich heritage collections that it seeks to promote.
National Observation Services
As an Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers (OSU), under INSU supervision, ObAS participates in several National Observation Services (SNO), provided in particular by the assistant astronomers and astronomers of the CNAP corps.
- It hosts the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Centre (CDS), labelled “Research Infrastructure” (IR) by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The CDS provides added-value services for reference astronomy data to support open science, and contributes to the global astronomy data infrastructure of the Virtual Observatory.
- It actively participates in the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC-XMM) which valorises space data in the high-energy domain.
ObAS supports several other SNOs: SVOM, Athena, Large spectroscopic Surveys with WEAVE, Gaia, and the Besançon Galaxy model.
The Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory is an independent faculty of the University of Strasbourg and has the status of an internal school. It manages the astrophysics course (M2) of the Master’s degree in Physics, which is hosted by the Faculty of Physics and Engineering.
For its students, it has a pedagogical observation platform, installed in one of its domes and composed of two coupled 36cm telescopes for imaging and spectroscopy.
The Observatory’s teachers also give lectures in other faculties of the University.
As a research laboratory under the supervision of the CNRS and Unistra, ObAS’ mission is to contribute to the progress of knowledge in astronomy and astrophysics through:
- the acquisition and production of observational data and simulations
- the development and exploitation of data processing techniques
- the development of theoretical tools
The laboratory is structured in two scientific teams:
- the GALHECOS team
- the CDS scientific team
Its researchers and lecturers work on various themes: stellar physics, compact objects and black holes, and their extreme environment, the interstellar medium, nearby galaxies, including the Milky Way, the evolution of galaxies, and the cosmology and reionisation of the Universe.
Heritage and public outreach
Located on the historical campus of the University of Strasbourg, the current Observatory was built in 1881, during the German period. It was then equipped with important observation facilities, including a large refractor, today the 3rd largest in France, which is still used for public observation sessions, in partnership with the Jardin des Sciences (JdS) of the University of Strasbourg. The observatory also preserves a rich heritage of astronomical instruments, objects and ancient works.
The Jardin des Science runs the Strasbourg Planetarium, which has been located in one of the observatory buildings since 1986 and which it ran directly until 2008. A new planetarium is currently under construction.