The observatory at Hurbanovo (up to 1947 Stará Ďala, Hungarian: Ógyalla), can be considered as the cradle of modern astronomy in Hungary and later Czechoslovakia. It was established as a private observatory by Dr. Miklós Konkoly-Thege in 1871. His primary goal was to create a modern astronomical centre to make observations at a high scientific level. He was an exceptionally talented scientist and manager which allowed him, in only a few years, to turn the small private observatory into a world-class scientific workplace.
The observatory has gone through three stages of development. The first of them took place from its foundation in 1871 to 1918. Over this period, Dr. Miklós Konkoly-Thege gradually turned his small observation area on the balcony of his manor house into a professionally equipped observatory with three domes. The observatory joined a network that focused on solar observations. Observations of objects within the solar system, the planets, meteorites and comets were regularly made, along with the classification and cataloguing of stellar objects. The publication of their results was an integral part of the activities of the observatory. From 1899 the observatory was administered by the state and continued its scientific and research activities. During this period the observational and scientific success of the Ógyalla/Stará Ďala observatory inspired the foundation of several similar centres across Hungary.
In the time after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 the observatory was managed by the State Czechoslovak Observatory as its Centre of Astrophysics. Once the necessary alterations were made to the construction of the observatory, it was equipped with the largest telescope in Czechoslovakia, with a mirror diameter of 60 cm. Dr. Bohumil Šternberk used it to make the first, exceptionally precise astrometric measurements of the newly discovered Pluto, from Europe. Other observational projects, including those focused on the Sun, gradually followed. However, activities of the observatory were suspended for 25 years by World War II. The telescope was moved to the Skalnaté Pleso Observatory and remained the largest telescope in Czechoslovakia for the next 30 years.
The observatory in Hurbanovo resumed its regional activities during the second half of the 1960s. From 1969 it has been administered by the Ministry of Culture. As the Slovak Central Observatory, it holds an irreplaceable position in the popularisation of astronomy in Slovakia. Today, the scientific and research activities at the observatory are mainly focused on solar observations.
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