There is a lot more to Croatia than the hot sun, cool sea and pebbled beaches. Those parts of Croatia are very special, but sometimes it can be just as fun to mix it up and do something a little different.
Croatia has 6 observatories where you can gaze at stars, planets and comets through high-powered telescopes or on the dome of a planetarium. Some are well positioned on top of mountains giving you an excellent vantage point for watching the stars with your naked eye.
For those living in Croatia, many of these space observatories offer school programs for children to educate them about science, math, astronomy and technology.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Where you can find these observatories and planetariums in Croatia
- Which programs they offer
- Why you should visit
Stargaze at these space observatories and planetariums in Croatia
#1 Starry village Mosor (Zvjezdano selo Mosor)
The Mosor observatory is situated within Zvjezdano selo Mosor, which translates as “starry village Mosor”.
It is a non-governmental organization that organizes school, workshops, lectures, and seminars from the field of astronomy, meteorology, ecology, history, arts, and geography. Their goal is to educate younger generations and improve the quality of their lives.
The good climate, fresh sea air, and high altitude provide excellent conditions for observing the night sky from Mosor. It is best to visit the observatory at dusk when the moon isn’t full and the weather is not windy. The observatory has 5 telescopes.
Zvjezdano selo Mosor offers 2 schools for students. The first one is Mala škola astronomije (Little school of astronomy) that includes lectures in Split and practical classes in the observatory. The second one is Škola u prirodi (School in nature) that takes place at Zvjezdano selo Mosor.
Address: On the hill Makirin, 22 kilometers from Split
Phone: +385 (0)21 784 5012
#2 Pula observatory (Pulska zvjezdarnica)
Pula observatory was built in the 19th century as a naval observatory during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It is the oldest observatory in Croatia.
The observatory is now equipped with 2 large telescopes and several smaller portable telescopes, binoculars, telephoto lenses and filters.
Astronomsko društvo “Istra” Pula (Astronomical society Istria Pula) has operated in this building since 1979. Members of the society gather in the building to exchange information and experiences. They follow comet appearances, solar and moon eclipses, and organize observations for those interested from the public.
Due to its rich history, Pula observatory has been registered as a cultural monument since 1983. It offers tours and lectures for visitors with prior notice. The visit includes a multimedia lecture on space, the history of Pula observatory and its current activities as well as telescope observations.
Address: Park Monte Zaro 2, 52 100 Pula
Phone: +385 (0)91 214 1966
#3 Rijeka astronomy center (Astronomski centar Rijeka)
The Astronomy center in Rijeka is the only one in Croatia that has both an observatory and planetarium. It is also the only one with a digital planetarium, which displays a simulated image of the universe.
The planetarium is an amphitheater-shaped hall used for watching projections of the sky and celestial bodies. You can also watch movies about astronomy and the underwater world.
Astronomski centar Rijeka is notable because their telescope revealed 2 changing stars. The center also has a conference hall, meeting room, multimedia workshop, and a panoramic terrace with a caffe bar on its the rooftop offering unique view of Rijeka and Kvarner.
Akademsko astronomsko društvo Rijeka (Academic Astronomical Society of Rijeka) also uses the building for their activities. The building is fully adapted to persons with reduced mobility.
View program schedule here
View planetarium show schedule here
View ticket information here
Address: Sveti križ 33, 51 000 Rijeka
Phone: +385 (0)51 455 700
#4 Višnjan observatory (Zvjezdarnica Višnjan)
The primary purpose of Višnjan observatory is to monitor asteroids, comets and meteors and their interaction with planet Earth. They have discovered many small bodies within the solar system as well as 1447 asteroids and 2 comets.
Thanks to their telescope called “Dagor”, Višnjan observatory ranks 2nd in the world (right after NASA) by the number of published assists in determining orbits of newly discovered dangerous objects.
Astronomsko društvo Višnjan (Astronomical society Višnjan) carries out educational activities from the field of natural sciences and culture. They also offer educational projects from STEM in collaboration with Znanstveno edukacijski centar Višnjan (Scientific education center Višnjan).
Programs such as Ljetna škola znanosti (Summer school of Science) and Znanstveni kamp mladih (Youth Science Camp), and Višnjanska škola astronomije (Višnjan School of Astronomy) are intended for highly motivated students.
Address: Tičan field, 52 463 Višnjan
Phone: +385 (0)1 4844 050
#5 Zagreb observatory (Zvjezdarnica Zagreb)
The observation of the sky in Zagreb observatory is possible through telescopes adjusted for observing the sun in H-alpha light and white light. They are also able observe and record the night sky.
The Zagreb observatory also has a cosmic radiation detector, a library, and a lecture hall.
4 types of programs are offered:
- Popularization programs – Public lectures, exhibitions, and observation of the sky for citizens and school groups. View more here.
- Educational programs – Courses, workshops and other projects that serve as a supplement to school teaching such as International Astronomical and Astrophysics Olympiads financed by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and Astronomy Summer School. View more here.
- Scientific and professional research – Research in the field of the solar physics and monitoring of astronomical phenomena
- Publications – Publishing books, magazines, astronomical posters and maps
The observatory has encouraged the establishment of astronomical associations all across Croatia by giving them technical and professional help. If you are interested in learning about astronomy, you can join their E-school of Astronomy.
Address: Opatička 22, 10 001 Zagreb
Phone: +385 (0)1 4851 355
#6 Nikola Tesla Technical Museum’s planetarium in Zagreb (Planetarij Tehničkog muzeja Nikola Tesla)
The planetarium of the Technical Museum of Nikola Tesla (TMNT) offers a projection of the starry sky inside of the dome. This simulation contains approximately 5000 stars, from the equator to the North Pole. This is done using 31 optical systems. Each of them projects a different part of the sky.
Special projectors are used to show the Sun and the moon, planets, the Milky way, and other occurrences in the sky. It is also possible to simulate the daily movement of the starry sky to see its look at any time of the night and year from different geographical latitudes.
Tours are available individually and in groups Group tours are available in Croatian and English languages. Scientific lectures are occasionally held there.
The TMNT’s price list for 2020 is available here.
Address: Savska cesta 18, 10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 (0)1 4844 050
#7 Hvar observatory (Opservatorij Hvar)
We are leaving the Hvar observatory for last because it is the only one closed to the public. It is also the only professional astrophysical observatory in Croatia, operating through the Faculty of Geodesy in Zagreb.
Hvar observatory is used for scientific research in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, geodesy, and geophysics, and is also used in the education of young scientists.
The observatory is situated above the town of Hvar in the historic fortress Napoljun. Napoljun was built by the French army during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century.
Current projects of the Hvar observatory can be seen here.
Address: Hvar Observatory, PP 18, 21450 Hvar
Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.