Potsdam contributions to international observatories

Today we access the Universe with modern international large observatories that become increasingly bigger and powerful. Earth-based observatories are often located at remote sites on Earth where only very few disturbing factors can corrupt the measurements: far away from the light pollution of big cities in deserts, on high mountains and at places with stable weather conditions. Astronomical observation also takes place from space: here the disturbing influence of the atmosphere, which even shields of some parts of the electromagnetic spectrum like X-rays completely, is totally eliminated. Space observatories record data which is transmitted to Earth for analysis. The Potsdam institutions contribute to a significant number of telescopes world-wide and in space through instrumentation and research projects. The following list gives an overview.

Facilities on Earth

Advanced LIGO

VERITAS Observatory

Zwicky-Transient-Facility (ZTF)

  • Sky survey at the Palomar Observatory, California, USA 
  • Participation: DESY
  • ZTF-Website

Fairborn Observatory 

  • Site with robotic telescopes in Arizona, USA
  • Participation: AIP

Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)

  • Telescope with the largest optical single mirrors at Mount Graham, Arizona, USA
  • Participation: AIP
  • LBT Observatory Website

Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)

  • Large-scale sky survey using telescopes at the Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico, USA and at the Las Campanas Observatory, Chile
  • Participation: AIP
  • Website about SDSS-Instrumentation

Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET)

VISTA Telescope

Very Large Telescope (VLT)

  • Highly powerful optical observatory with four main telescopes and four auxiliary telescopes that can be combined interferometrically at the Paranal Observatory of ESO in the Atacama desert, Chile
  • Participation with instrumentation: AIP
  • Website of ESO (European Southern Observatory)

European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)

Observatorio de Calar Alto

International LOFAR Telescope (ILT)

  • Digital radio telescope with stations in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, France and Poland
  • Participation: AIP
  • Website of the LOFAR Project




Hundred Square-km Cosmic ORigin Explorer (HiSCORE)




GEO600 Gravitational-Wave Detector

  • Gravitational-wave detector in Ruthe in the vicinity of Hannover, Germany
  • Project of the AEI with British partners
  • Website of GEO600





KAGRA Observatory

  • Gravitational-wave detector in Hida, Japan
  • Participation: AEI
  • Website of KAGRA


  • Italian-French gravitational-wave detector in Italy, near Pisa
  • Participation: AEI
  • Website of Virgo

Observatorio del Teide

MAGIC Telescope

Siding Spring Observatory 

Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA)

  • Gamma ray observatory with two planned sites in Chile (Paranal) and Spain (La Palma)
  • Participation: DESY, Science Data Management Centre is being built on the DESY-Campus in Zeuthen 
  • CTA Website

H.E.S.S. Observatory

IceCube Neutrino Observatory

Facilities in Space




  • Space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA) for scanning the Milky Way
  • Participation: AIP
  • ESA Website about GAIA
Visualisation of the LISA Pathfinder (Credits: ESA–C.Carreau)

LISA Pathfinder (2015-2017)


Solar Orbiter



Collage of the ULTRASAT satellite (photomontage: DESY, material from NASA and Weizmann Institute of Science)

ULTRASAT - Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite