The Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte is part of the National Institute for Astrophysics – INAF. Formed by 12 astronomical observatories and 3 space physics institutes, INAF is the leading Italian research institution in the field of astronomy and astrophysics from Earth and Space.
While at the time of its foundation in 1819, ten among astronomers and technicians were working at the Observatory, today one hundred researchers, students and technicians are active in the Institute to carry out important researches in the main astrophysical fields and to promote the astronomical knowledge in schools and society.
Nowadays the Specola building still keeps almost unchanged its charm despite the addition of two wings which have altered the original plan proportions.
A monumental stairway in nineteenth-century style leads to a large terrace, dominated by the elegant façade of the building. Seven arches and a two levels painted background dominate the prospect, while two domes stand out against the sky above the right and left wing. A square covering juts out from the main entrance, hiding a third smaller dome.
The building is realized in tufa and is covered with Gaeta pink travertine bricks. On the terrace, two circular towers stand out at the East and West side of the monumental building. They were both realized after the foundation to house modern telescopes.
A doric pronaos overlooks the Observatory large panoramic square: it has six columns and is surmounted by a tympanum on which there is the Latin inscription
[Ferdinand I, for the development of astronomy, year 1819]
Ferdinand the First is also represented in the Claudio Monti bass-relief in the hall of honour, a barrel-vault lobby with a small skylight. On its sides, there are the Carrara marble columns that in the original idea of the director Federico Zuccari, together with the other six of pronaos should have formed a portico all around the circular room holding the observation instruments. A golden memorial medal, get minted by Joachim Murat for the laying of the foundation stone, keeps track of this project.
The Auditorium Hall
The Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte has a multifunctional hall with 270 seats equipped with up-to-date technological infrastructures, the sound system, the video projection system, the microphone system, the lights control panel, the audio mixer, and other related equipment (multistandard videotapes, cameras, FM radios).
The Auditorium is used for a wide range of shows and cultural events, and it offers:
- Lectures with the use of transparencies, PCs, slides, CD-Rom
- Film clips, with or without voiceover, from different sources such as DVD and VHS readers, PCs, cameras, and so on
- Musical Events
- Live astronomical events projected from the Observatory telescope
For the archive of the OAC events which have taken place at the Auditorium, please refer to the events section.