VEGA observatory at the Haunsberg
On the Haunsberg, a rolling hill north of the city of Salzburg, the world's first ever public event astronomical observatory invites visitors to a journey through the skies.
Summer 2018: it will be remembered for a long time to come. It remains the special time for many people who like to look at the stars. Fascinated by gazing into the infinity of the universe, they have long since realised that our existence is probably only meaningful for our small area. From this memorable moment on, the doors to a very special observatory will be open. For everyone!
The view into the incomprehensible
Stargazers are not daydreamers and visionaries. Stargazers have awe of creation in its incomprehensible infinity. Those who take a look into space will soon succumb to fascination. This also applies to VEGA founder and managing director Franz Blum. More than 25 years ago, the world beyond our comprehension fascinated him so much that he named his company after a star. Today he is so enthusiastic about what is going on outside our galaxy that he packed up his family and followed the total solar eclipse. "We were able to experience this unforgettable event on August 11,1999 in Salzburg. In order to feel this with my family once again, we decided to spend this year's vacation in the USA, where we were again overwhelmed by this extraordinary cosmic experience on August 21st in Idaho", Franz Blum says with resounding enthusiasm.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that this man, who year after year directs around 1,000 truck and bus drivers in his company over approximately 50,000,000 kilometres on this planet, shares his interest for infinity with others. It’s only how he does it which is quite unusual.
Franz Blum realised his idea of an observatory that is accessible to all people. In return, he supported the Province of Salzburg and the Haus der Natur (natural history museum) with its astronomical group under the guidance of Ing. Helmut Windhager, both financially and with his sheer boundless creativity.
I am excited about what is being created here in collaboration with several entrepreneurs and the public sector. The simple, elegant architecture is particularly special, and offers so much space for science, education, culture and society", Franz Blum says enthusiastically. "As opposed to pure research observatories, the VEGA observatory keeps its doors open to all those interested. They can gaze at the stars, but also find one of the most unusual venue for events worldwide." Scientific conferences and seminars, in terdisciplinary lectures, panel discussions in cooperation with universities as well as receptions, celebrations, product presentations – they are all intended to co-finance the management and maintenance of the VEGA observatory on the Haunsberg.
The observatory has the very latest state-of-the-art technology, thanks to another generous Austrian entrepreneur: Egon Döberl of ASA Astro Systeme Austria in Kefermarkt near Freistadt/Austria, will install the high-quality astronomical equipment at a cost well below the cost price, because he is fascinated by the idea of a public observatory just as much as Franz Blum. The building has two domes, one can be opened like a shell and provides a view of the large telescope. On beautiful summer evenings, visitors can enjoy a direct view of the stars on the terrace.
The heart of the observatory on the Haunsberg is this telescope. It has a mirror diameter of one meter, making it one of the most powerful telescopes in Central Europe. The new device allows a completely different view of the stars. "This is as big a step as the moon landing for NASA" says Helmut Windhager, head of the astronomy working group at the Haus der Natur at the ground-breaking ceremony. And it is exactly these sensations that the marvelling visitors will experience.
The experts from Choros are working on ideas to liven up the observatory. "Choros means space. Space like outer space, but also space like event spaces. Space for science and space for coming together " explains Choros Managing Director Alfons Weissenbacher.
This space will be a further international magnet for Salzburg, in addition to the Salzburg Festival – sophisticated celebrations and events for science, industry and the public sector.
"VEGA as a sponsor, idea and name-giver of the observatory" says co-owner Wolfgang Werner, "is particularly proud that this fascinating space is being created with relatively small private funds matched by public funding and under strict adherence to the construction budget”.
Logistics is an extremely low-margin business, which is why we are accustomed to dealing with all resources in a cost-conscious manner. It's splendid that we were able to do this so well with this extraordinary project" says ex-banker and financial expert Werner at the end of our discussion.