Traum der Astronomen: Der Gamsberg
Astronomer's dream: the Gamsberg table mountain

The Gamsberg mountain in Namibia ranks amoung the best locations for astronomers worldwide: 220 astronomically usable nights per year with exceptionally good seeing conditions render this location comparable with famous observatory sites like La Palma, Hawaii or the Chilean Atacama desert. Formerly intended as a possible site for a large southern observatory of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, nowadays the Gamsberg is available for the IAS amateur astronomers.  

The initially for the 1970's planned observatory on the Gamsberg never got to be built. As it became clear that the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory would be built on Paranal mountain in Chile, there was no need for a second large observatory. Nevertheless the Max Planck Gesellschaft decided in the end of the 1990's not to abandon this excellent site but to allow utilization by amateur astronomers as long as there was no own use. Especially for this purpose the IAS was founded in 1999, which as of today holds the utilization rights for the MPG buildings on top of the Gamsberg.  

Sternwartengebäude der MPG/IAS auf dem Gamsbergplateau #1
Observatory buildings of the MPG/IAS on top of the Gamsberg #1

In the beginning of the IAS, first of all the necessary infrastructure had to be developed: The existing observatory and residential buildings had to be renovated, electrical power lines had to be installed and the drinking water supply had to be assured.
This wasn't always an easy task, especially as there still exists only a bold track to the mountain's top, which can be used only by skilled drivers with 4x4 vehicles.  Due to the tremendous commitment of some IAS members finally an observatory has been established that now can be used safely and comfortably by the astrophotographer and the visual observer as well.

Sternwartengebäude der MPG/IAS auf dem Gamsbergplateau #2Observatory buildings of the MPG/IAS on top of the Gamsberg #2

28" Newton

Since 2010, after an adventurous transport of the 28" Newton to the mountain top, the members of the IAS have one of the most capable amateur telescopes of southern Africa at their command.  

IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28" Newton #1
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28" Newton #2
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 28" Newton #3

The mechanical components of the telescope and the 2.5 ton fork mount were left to the IAS by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The optical components of the telescope - main and auxilliary mirrors - were manufactured by Alluna Optics in Augsburg, Germany. The Newton features an aperture of 710mm with a focal length of 3117mm (f/4.4).

Philipp Keller 16" Hypergraph

As a second large instrument for photographic application, a 16" hypergraph by Philipp Keller is installed in the eastern observatory building on a Zeiss mount. This instrument offers - similar to the 50cm Cassegrain of Hakos - a primary focus of 1320mm focal length (f/3.2) and a secondary focus of 3200mm (f/8) as well.

IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16" Hypergraph #1
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16" Hypergraph #2
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - Philipp Keller 16" Hypergraph #3

This instrument has been installed in the eastern observatory building since 2013. In summer 2018 the original Alt AD7 mount has been replaced by the proven Zeiss mount previously installed in the Hakos dome. In this way, also the for security reasons required second person can work independantly on photographic objects.

10" Newton

In the so-called "3m building" another 10" Newton telescope is available on a AOK mount with FS2 controller. However, in the absence of permanent power-supply, this part of the obervatory is usable only in a restricted way.

IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 10
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 10" Newton

Dobson-Telescopes 17" and 20"

In addition to several smaller instruments, a large Dobson telescope is available for pure visual observation on the Gamsberg observatory: a 20" f/4.0 Dobson telescope (the 17" on the photo below is no longer on the Gamsberg).

IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 17
IAS Observatory Gamsberg - 17" (no longer available) and 20" Dobson Telescopes