via Frascati 33, 00078, Monte Porzio Catone

Rome, capital of astrophysics

Monte Porzio Catone, Rome Astronomical Observatory


"Studying the prismatic spectra of celestial bodies is not an act of mere curiosity, as from it depends the solution to many and very important cosmic issues."
(A. Secchi, 1863)
The Astronomical Observatory of Rome was established in 1938, at Villa Mellini, on the hille called “Monte Mario”, thanks to its first director, Giuseppe Armellini (1887-1958). This new institute inherited the scientific and historical tradition of the two exhisting public Astronomical Observatories, namely: the Astronomical Observatory of the “Collegio Romano” and the Observatory of the “Campidoglio”.
In the second half of the Nineteenth century, these two historical Observatories, respectively managed by Angelo Secchi (1818-1878) and Lorenzo Respighi (1824-1889), had been the cradle of Astrophysics.
In 1988, the main seat of the Astronomical Observatory of Rome (OAR-INAF) was moved to Monte Porzio Catone, near the Tuscolum hills, south-east of Rome. Nowadays, almost a hundred researchers and highly specialized technicians work here and carry out both observational and theorical researchers, which possess and International dimension in several fields of Modern Astronomy, starting from Planetology, down to Galactic and Extra-galactic Astrophysics and Cosmology.
OAR-INAF, both in Monte Porzio Catone and at Villa Mellini in Rome, protects a rich collection of instruments and historical documents which belong to the Astronomical Copernicus Museum, which was established at the end of the Nineteenth century by the Polish historian Arthur Wolynski (1844-1893), and later promoted by Pietro Tacchini (1838-1905), friend and collaborator of Angelo Secchi, who succeded him as Director of the Observatory at the Collegio Romano.
Inside the Museum of Villa Mellini there is a display of the oldest objects, whereas in Monte Porzio we can find Nineteenth century instruments and documents, which prove the origins of Italian Stellar and Solar Astrophysics – represented by the work of Secchi, Respighi, Tacchini and other contemporary Italian and foreign scientists.
That is why the Astronomical Observatory of Monte Porzio houses the Rome section of StarLight - the National Astronomy Exhibition focussed on the scientific and human adventure of these scientists by displaying the objects connected to their intensive, ground-breaking research activity which represents the basis of our modern understanding of the Cosmos.

In exhibition