Astronomical Observatory of Quito, located in the middle of the La Alameda Park, is a historic building: the second oldest in South America and a center of operations for the French Geodesic Mission II.
Currently it is still working as an observatory. It’s open to the community as an astronomical museum: it exhibits all the pieces that nineteenth-century scientists used.
This observatory was founded in 1873, when the Alameda was on the outskirts of the city of Quito. The project was initiated and led by Father Juan Bautista Menten, German astronomer, member or the European teachers’ team, who have created the teaching group of the newly created National Polytechnic School of Ecuador. One of the most important reasons for the creation of Quito Astronomical Observatory was the conclusion of the German and French Geodesic Mission: Quito's geographical position is strategic for the sky survey, because can be observed at the same time the boreal and austral hemisphere.
Therefore, the Astronomical Observatory was equipped with a variety of instruments: a universal telescope, a portable telescope, a sextant, prismatic circle, theodolite, barometers, thermometers, timers, magnetic needles and microscopes. The vast majority was German instruments; several not only were related to astronomy but with the weather measurements. Then, with the advance of time, also were installed into the basement several seismographs. These also would be the beginning of the Geophysical Institute and the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology. All instruments are still working in optimal conditions.
But the main attraction is the Merz equatorial telescope, made in Germany and specifically designed for the Quito sky, half of the world. This telescope was installed in 1875, has the same operating system of the modern telescopes and has not stopped working since the date on which the observatory dome opened. Besides the astronomical relics the observatory saved, highlights its architecture which is inspired in the design of the observatory of Bonn, Germany.
Unfortunately with the expansion of the city, the scientific observation of the sky dome from the La Alameda Park has been difficult due to light pollution. Despite this, the Merz telescope on clear nights still works for the general public by appointment.
Besides all these attractions, the Astronomical Observatory of Quito offers global community the Virtual Telescope System. This system is connecting via Internet and allows as watching, by streaming, what the telescopes of the institution see. For more information their website is oaq.epn.edu.ec
This Astronomical Observatory of Quito is the second oldest in South America, also is located in the oldest park of the city: The Alameda.
It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10h00 to 17h00. The entrance fee is $ 2.00 USD for adults, $ 1.00 for students and seniors, $ 0.50 USD for children.