The story of Tartu Observatory goes back to the beginning of the 19th century.
Following is the list of some essential events in its history.
1802 – The astronomer-observer started work in the reopened Tartu University.
1812 – Tartu Observatory was declared to be ready to work.
1814 – Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve began regular astronomical observations.
1824 – Tartu observatory acquired a Fraunhofer refractor, which at the time was the best and the largest dioptric telescope in the world.
1835 – Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve was the first to measure the distance of a star from the Earth and determined the position of thousands of double stars.
1865 – A. Oettingen began systematical weather observation in the Meteorological Observatory of Tartu Universty.
1885 – E. Hartwig discovered supernova in the Andromeda nebula.
1904 – Metobs hankis Hvolsoni aktinomeetri. B. Sreznevski juhendamisel alustati aktinomeetrilisi vaatlusi.
1911 – Metobsis pandi tööle Callendari päikesekiirguse iseregistreerija, mida kasutati summaarse kiirguse registreerimiseks 1911 – 1915 ning lühemat aega 1926. aastal.
1919 – Estonia began officially to predict the weather.
1922 – Ernst Julius Öpik determined the distance of the Andromeda nebula.
1924 – The first issue of „Tähetorni kalender“ (Observatory Calendar) came out.
1937 – Ernst Julius Öpik created physical theory of the meteor phenomena (lõi meteoornähtuste füüsikalise teooria).
1938 – Ernst Julius Öpik andis lahenduse ühele täheevolutsiooni põhiprobleemidest, näidates, et punased hiidtähed tekivad põhijada tähtedest.
1947 – On January 1, the Institute of Physics, Mathematics and Mechanics was founded in the framework of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. The mathematician Arnold Humal was named the director. The institute included old Tartu Observatory together with astronomers.
1949 – Institute was reorganized: astronomy and geodesy were defined as the main directions of research, scientists in mathematics and mechanics were employed by Tartu University.
1950 – Academician Aksel Kipper was named the director of the Institute; the question of founding a new observational base was raised by A. Kipper and H. Keres.
1952 – On October 9, the Institute was again renamed the Institute of Physics and Astronomy (FAI).
1957 – The observatory was given land on the Tõravere hill.
1958 – The construction began at Tõravere. At the same time astronomers started to design the 1,5 m telescope.
1961 – A part of the department of astronomy started its work at Tõravere.
1963 – The main building of the observatory was ready. The first 50 cm telescope saw its first light.
1964 – All the astronomers moved to Tõravere where a part of the main building, the first apartment houses and boiler house were ready.
1964 – On September 14, an international conference was held on the occasion of opening the new observatory which is given the name of Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve.
1967 – The construction of the so–called combined building (6 floors) begins. It will be ready only in 1974.
1969 – The construction of the 1,5 m telescope dome began.
1973 – Again the Institute was reorganized: part of it was named Institute of Physics, situated in Tartu and the Institute of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics, situated at Tõravere. Väino Unt was elected the director of the latter.
1974 – The 1,5 m telescope was ready to work!
1974 – The council was elected to defend the Candidate's thesis in astrophysics.
1975 – In summer the observations were started with our biggest 1,5 m telescope.
1977 – In September the 79th Symposium of the International Astronomical Union „Large–scale structure of the Universe“ was held in Tallinn. For the first time the idea of cell structure of the Universe was made public.
1985 – Tõnu Viik was elected the director of the Institute.
1992 – The international radiation seminar was organized by Institute in Tallinn.
1993 – Due to the hard times the structure of the Institute was changed and only one third of the personnell continued its work.
1995 – Since September 21, we regained the old name – Tartu Observatory.
1997 – The Stellarium was opened.
1998 – The new 60 cm ZEISS 600 telescope saw its first light.
1999 – On April 7 the new director Laurits Leedjärv was elected.
1999 – In January, the actinometric station became part of the BSRN (Baseline Surface Radiation Network).
2001 – Repair works of the 1.5 m telescope, coating reflectors with aluminium layer.
2001 – Centres of Excellence in Research were founded in Estonia. The work group of remote sensing of vegetation took part of the Centre of Excellence on Theoretical and Applied Ecology (led by the University of Tartu Institute of Ecology and Botany Professor Olevi Krull).
2002 – Measurements of atmospheric aerosol started with the NASA solar photometer which belongs to the network of AERONET.
2003 – Jaan Einasto was awarded the Science Prize of the Republic of Estonia for his lifetime work.
2003 – The „Handbook of Estonian solar radiation climate“ by Viivi Russak and Ain Kallis was published. The editor was Heino Tooming.
2005 – The experimental satellite PROBA of ESA measured the reflectance over Järvselja testsite using the CHRIS spetrometer.
2006 – The spectral observations of stars were registred with the new CCD camera Andor Newton DU970N with thermoelectric cooling.
2007 – A new internet radio-relay line with the speed of 155 Mb/s started working between Tõravere and Tartu.
2008–2010 The researcers of Tartu Observatory led the project „EstSpacE“ funded from the 7th Research Framework Programme.
2009 – Tartu hosted the international astronomy summer school.
2010 – The international conference „Modern Trends in Space Research“ was held in Tartu at the AHHAA Science Centre that had been freshly opened.
2010 – On April 1 the new director Anu Reinart was elected.
2010 – Our Senior Research Fellow Enn Saar was chosen to be an astronomy academic at the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
2011 – The control system of the 1,5 m telescope was completely renovated.
2011 – The cosmologists of the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics and Tartu Observatory created the Centre of Excellence called Dark Matter in (Astro)particle Physics and Cosmology.
2011 – On August 8, the main building that had been emptied for renovation, was handed over to the construction company YIT. People continued working in work rooms both on the Tõravere hill and in the building located at 4 Tähe street in Tartu.
2012 – Construction work was done in the 1,5 m telescope tower to ensure the compatibility with fire safety requirements and make it more easily accessible. The internet connection of the main building was upgraded to 1 Gbit/s.
2012 – On September 22, the renovated main building was opened.
2012 – Academic Jaan Einasto was awarded the Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize. It was shared with another laureate, Proefssor Igor Novikov from Moscow.
2013 – On May 5, the first Estonian satellite ESTCube-1 was sent in orbit. The making of the satellite was supervised by the researchers of Tartu Observatory. A stamp was published to mark the event. ESTCube-1 was named Act of The Year by the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).
2013 – The research equipment was updated and laboratory devices bought.
2014 – Astrophysicist Elmo Tempel was awarded the Young Scientist Award by the Culture Fund of President.
2014 – Director Anu Reinart was awarded the Class IV Order of the White Star.
2018 – Tartu Observatory became an institute of the University of Tartu and was renamed as the University of Tartu Tartu Observatory (UT Tartu Observatory).
2018 – The Laboratory of Space Technology was merged into the Testing Centre of the University of Tartu and its services accredited.
2018 – On December 3, the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) was launched with a camera system developed by students and research fellows of the UT Tartu Observatory on board.