vicolo Osservatorio 5 - 35122 - Padova

An Italian scientific society for astrophysics

Padua Astronomical Observatory

"Italian astronomers will do very well by agreeing to study some important points allowing them to proceed with unified strength to pursuing truth. I definitely feel honored to be part of the society of spectroscopists which is being planned"
(G. Lorenzoni, 1871)


Valeria Zanini & Simone Zaggia

In the same years in which Italy was involved into the realization of the national unity, the interest in the 'new astronomy', the astronomical spectroscopy, spread all over the country, Among the leading actors of this new science, there were Giuseppe Lorenzoni (1843-1914), working as added Astronomer at the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, and Pietro Tacchini (1838-1905), in charge at the Observatory of Palermo. The two astronomers got to know each other during the first scientific expedition of the young Italian kingdom, organized to observe the eclipse of the Sun on Dec. 22, 1870, embracing also Sicily.
Tacchini had started, since long time, a strong scientific relation with Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), one of the Astrophysics’ founding fathers, and shared with him the passion for the new science. Giuseppe Lorenzoni, on the contrary, approached the new science just on the occasion of the eclipse of 1870, so he wrote directly to Father Secchi, starting a kind of education at a distance.
Working alongside Tacchini while he was in Sicily, Lorenzoni honed his observational techniques and totally immersed himself in the new discipline. From the sincere friendship and professional relationship that consolidated between Tacchini and Lorenzoni and thanks to the influential scientific presence of Secchi, germinated and grew the idea to gather all Italian lovers of the emerging astrophysics in a national scientific society.
The “Italian Spectroscopists Society” was therefore founded on October, 1871. The primary purpose of this association was to monitor the solar activity through the simultaneous observation from the various Observatories. Among its founders, the Society counted Pietro Tacchini in Palermo, who was the first Chairman, Giuseppe Lorenzoni in Padova, Angelo Secchi and Lorenzo Respighi (1824-1889) in Rome and Arminio Nobile (1838-1897) in Naples. The official journal of the Society, the Memoirs of the Italian Spectroscopists Society, which started publishing in 1872 is considered today the first astrophysical journal in the world.
At that time astrophysics seemed to have an important development in the young Italian Kingdom so that the government allowed the foundation of the Catania Astrophysical Observatories (1880). Unfortunately, the lack of means and financial funds in the following years, together with the is appearance of the main protagonists, not replaced by new recruits, soon determined the loss of Italian primacy in the field. The Society itself lost its astrophysical connotation an finally, in 1920, it was dissolved to be refounded as “Italian Astronomical Society”.


In exhibition