Friday, August 17, 2012

Breathtaking Sphinx Observatory at Swiss Alps

The Sphinx observatory is located at Jungfraujoch in Switzerland at an altitude of 3,571 meters. Due to its unique location in an unspoiled high alpine environment and the year-round accessibility via the Jungfrau Railway, combined with the excellent infrastructure, the Sphinx observatory provides unique conditions for successful research in various disciplines such as meteorology, astronomy, glaciology, physiology, radiation, and cosmic rays.

When the Jungfraujoch station opened in 1912 (which is also the highest railway station in all of Europe), Jungfraujoch became the number one place for scientists to conduct research under conditions of high altitude. At first the scientists worked in harsh conditions and lived in temporary shelters. Eventually, the Sphinx observatory was built in 1937 to accommodate eager scientists.

The Sphinx observatory is built on a steep cliff. The mountain top has been tunneled to fit an elevator which ascends to the observatory from the Jungfraujoch train station. The main-part of the Sphinx is used by scientists but for the tourists there is a metal-grate terrace surrounding the building on all sides that provides a stunning 360 degree view of the Great Aletsah Glacier, of the snow capped Alps, and of the green valley down below. From the metal gratting one can see 11,333 feet of abyss down below.

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The building includes four laboratories, a pavilion for cosmic ray research, a mechanical workshop, a library, a kitchen, a living room, ten bedrooms, a bathroom, and the living quarters of the custodians. The scientific part of the Sphinx observatory includes two large laboratories, a weather observation station, a workshop, two terraces for scientific experiments, an astronomical as well as a meteorological cupola. The astronomical cupola is equipped with a 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus.

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Sphinx Observatory observation deck open to public. Photo credit

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Walking ten minutes through this tunnel gets you to an elevator, at the top of which is the highest point, where the observatory is located. Photo credit

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

3 comments:

  1. I proposed to my wife there many years ago...!

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  2. If you think that's "impressive", check out the "Aiguille during Midi" on a rock in the French Alps overlooking the Mt. Blanc peak on 1 side & the ski resort of Chamonix WAY below in the valley on the other side! The Antenna perched on the top is shaped like a rocket, seeming on top of the world. The large lodge with 360 degree view from multiple terraces mounts a small peak next to the 1st, linked to it by a skiable bridge with no supports but at the ends which continues into tunnels inside and against the 1st peak. Amazing place with easy access from a network of cable cars so that even seniors can make the day trip from Chamomix. And it's at least 100 years old!

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