Wendelstein Observatory

LMU's own observatory at 1840m altitude in the bavarian alps fully kitted with two active telescopes, one of them being the 2m-Fraunhofer telescope. Just a one-hour drive from Munich, the observatory on rocky top of the mountain is not just a sight to be seen, but also a highly modern research facility.

Drone Image of the Wendelstein Observatory

The Wendelstein poster of the year 2023

Wendelstein's most striking astro-photos:

All image credits: Wendelstein Observatory

part of the Orion molecular cloud complex, including the horse head nebula; © Raphael Zöller

Messier 33, the Triangulum Galaxy

Messier 42, the Orion Nebula

Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy

S106, region of star formation

NGC 891, edge on view of a spiral galaxy

NGC 6992, the Veil Nebula (a cloud of heated and ionized gas)

Galaxy cluster around Holm 15A

An clear difference in light quality!

The images below were taken on top of Wendelstein and in Bogenhausen (USM main site) at the same time of day, with the same camera and the same exposure time. Light pollution around USM's historical telescopes prevents modern astronomical observations. This makes Wendelstein such a significant place for astronomy in Bavaria and Germany.

Current instrumentation at the Wendelstein observatory

2.1m Wendelstein-Telescope


After the old 80cm-telescope was dismantled in 2008, the construction works for the new 2m-telescope started in the same year. It is in active use since late 2011.

Together with the Alfred-Jensch-Telescope in Thuringia it is the largest telescope in Germany. Information about public tours of the Wendelstein observatory are available in the public outreach section of our website.

Wendelstein 43 cm Planewave Telescope

© M. Kluge


Installed in 2016 it is used, among other things, for the BSc and MSc students' internships.

History of the Wendelstein Observatory

2016: New 43cm Telescope for the 3.2m Dome

In 2016, a CDK17 telescope by the company Planewave with correction optics for a field of 0.75 degrees was installed in a 3.2 m dome from Baader. The telescope follows the optical principle of a corrected Dall-Kirkham astrograph and offers a clear aperture of 43 cm and a usable field of view of 70 mm. The telescope has an aperture ratio of f/6.8 or a magnification of 0.26″/pixel on the CMOS detector. It can be controlled “remotely” from the observation room or from the Munich University Observatory.
It does much of the same job as the old 40cm telescope installed in 2007 before it.

2009-2012: Installation of new 2m Telescope and new 8.5m Dome

The new dome by company Baader was again installed via helicopter. All of the work inside and out on the dome was finished in late 2010.
The installation of the new 2m Fraunhofer telescope started in 2011 and the telescope was finally inaugurated on 21st of May in 2012.
It has been in use since then and continues to deliver fascinating astronomical insights and images.

Surrounding mountains of the Wendelstein Observatory with a view of the 2m-Fraunhofer-Telescope

2007-2015: 40cm Cassegrain Telescope and new 3.2m Dome

In 2007 a 40 cm Cassegrain telescope by company Astelco was installed in the old 3 m dome. Since the 3 m aluminum dome, which dates back to the days of sun monitoring, could no longer be put into reliable operation despite some repairs and additions and after a massive defect occurred in July, it had to be replaced at short notice. A new 3.2 m dome by the company Baader was procured and installed at extremely short notice to solve the problem. The 40 cm telescope was equipped with a SBIG ST10 CCD camera with SDSS g′, r′ and i′ filters and Johnson B and V filters (other filters available). The telescope had an aperture ratio of f/8 or a magnification of 0.44″/pixel. It can be controlled “remotely” from the observation room or from the Munich University Observatory. A fiber tap allowed the light of a bright star to be guided into a small spectrograph (PSPEC). This was used as part of the internship for the introduction to optical spectroscopy.
The telescope was used to carry out internship tasks as part of the diploma and master's courses for students at the LMU and to monitor Delta-Cepheii stars in the Milky Way. It supports the 2 m telescope as a so-called extinction monitor (i.e. it measures the transparency of the atmosphere as a robot). Among other things, the beginning of the nuclear dissolution of comet ISON was discovered with the telescope. After its dismantling in spring 2017, it was brought to the University Observatory Munich in Bogenhausen, where it will continue to be used for student internships.

1988-2008: 80cm Telescope

The 80-cm Wendelstein telescope was developed by the american company DFM. It was a Ritchey-Chretien optic with an equatorial fork mount. The aperture of the telescope was 800 mm, the focal length 9900 mm corresponding to an imaging scale of 20.8 arc seconds/mm in the focal plane and an aperture ratio of f/12.4. The instrument was operated and monitored remotely from a control room.

Up until 2008: meteorite camera

Up until 2008 a meteorite camera was active at the Wendelstein observatory for the meteor surveillance network of the DLR (deutsches Zentrum für Luft- & Raumfahrt / german aerospace center).

Summer of 2001: Renovations

The problem had been known for years: craftsmen, who have to carry out repair and maintenance work on the Bayerischer Rundfunk (bavarian broadcast, BR) and mobile communications antenna systems installed on the summit, need safe access to their exposed workplaces, especially in winter. And until then the only possible way led through the grounds and rooms of the observatory, which repeatedly disturbed the astronomers on duty during their well-deserved rest during the day. To remedy this situation, which was highly unsatisfactory for everyone involved, the BR built a separate connecting passage on the north side of the station in 2001. In the course of this construction work, the university building authority also carried out an urgently needed expansion of the observatory by installing an electronics laboratory, a new telescope control room and a room for preparing observation instruments for use at night.


Since 1949 the Wendelstein observatory belongs to the LMU.
Apart from the solar observatory (today's observatory) there existed another observatory on the eastern summit of the Wendelstein mountain from 1950 to 1960. It was completely demolished in 1965.
In the 1960s the observatory was expanded to include a coronograph to study the Sun's atmosphere.
Increasing air pollution and a shift in research focus towards night astronomy resulted in a cessation of solar research.
In late 1988 the purchase of the 80-cm-telescope made a continuation of observation operation possible for ambitious nighttime astronomy research.

Before 1949:

The observatory was founded in 1939 by Karl-Otto Kiepenheuer as a solar observatory of the Luftwaffe. By observing the solar activity it was supposed to enable the best possible prediction of the optimal frequencies for military radio traffic. After the end of WW2 the observatory was funded by the US military for the same purpose.

Previous posters of the year: