On June 16th , 2011, the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University announced its plans to restructure its efforts in research and education. This decision effectively ends an almost 370-year old tradition of education and research in astronomy and astrophysics in Utrecht, which not only has produced eminent scientists such as Marcel Minnaert, Henk van de Hulst, Kees de Jager and Ed van den Heuvel, but in recent times also promising scientist who received major national (veni, vidi, vici) and international awards (a.o. Hubble , Chandra, and ESO fellowships).
The closing of the Astronomical Institute means that as of August 2012, the institute and its (former) faculty members will no longer be involved in the education program in astrophysics. The faculty will continue to offer astrophysics in the bachelor phase. Prospective students in physics and astronomy are advised to consult the education pages of the Department of Physics and Astronomy
In order to mark the end of astronomy in Utrecht, we are organizing a conference on "370 years of astronomy in Utrecht"
April 2-5, 2012.
See here the original Press statement SIU 2015
regarding the closing of the Astronomical Institute as a consequence of the Science Faculty Profile 2015.
Astronomical Institute Utrecht
The Astronomical Institute Utrecht houses the astrophysics research group of Utrecht University. Its program revolves predominantly around all aspects of observational and theoretical stellar research. The objects investigated range from studies of the nearest star, the Sun, to distant star clusters, and from young stars, to the end products of stellar evolution, supernova remnants, white dwarfs, and neutron stars. Extragalactic research is incorporated through a close collaboration with SRON, Netherlands Institute for Space Research.
The institute has a long history that dates back to the founding of an observatory in Utrecht in 1642, and among its members it counts famous scientists as Pieter van Musschenbroek
(1692-1761), inventor of the first capacitor, and Marcel Minnaert
(1893-1971), who was responsible for the famous Utrecht Atlas of the solar spectrum, and who invented the curve of growth method for doing quantitative spectroscopy. One of its most famous alumni is Henk van de Hulst
(1918-2000), who as a student at Utrecht University made his seminal calculation of the 21 cm hydrogen transition
, which is the most widely used transition used in radio astronomy.
Originally astronomical research was done in the center of Utrecht, and since 1854 it was housed in Observatory "Sonnenborgh
", built on top of a bastion and part of the defense wall around the city center of Utrecht. Since 1987 the institute is situated at the University campus, the Uithof. The rich history of stellar research in Utrecht can be seen in the old observatory "Sonnenborgh
You are looking at the new web presence of the Astronomical Institute Utrecht, launched on November 1, 2009. For reference purposes, the old web site remains accessible at: http://www.astro.uu.nl/siu/.