Möller, Axel (1830-1896)

The Swedish astronomer Axel Möller can be found on a medal that was issued in 1906.

The Lund Observatory

Lund university was inaugurated in the 1668. The first observatory was in a tower in the house of the professor of astronomy Anders Spole. The roof was constructed in such a fashion that all sides could be opened, but the observatory is not preserved. In 1753 an already existing building, Lundagardshuset, was foreseen with a roof-top observatory.

In 1865 to 1867 the first free standing purpose-built observatory was erected. The building was planned by the astronomer Axel Möller, the building entrepreneurs P. C. Sörensen and F. G. Escher, and the facade designed by Helgo Zettervall as a medieval brick fortress. On the grounds were also erected a building for the astrograph, movable on rails, a subterranean building for the seismograph, and living quarters for the janitor on the grounds. Another building, the calculating house (räknehuset) was erected in 1911–12 designed by the architect Henrik Sjöström.

Old instruments were brought from Lundagardshuset, but a new refractor constructed by Jünger in Copenhagen with optical parts from Merz, with a clock drive by C. V. Holten, was mounted in 1867. A meridian circle by Repsold was mounted in the 1870s. A seismograph was ordered from Georg Bartels of Göttingen. Important contributions were made by Carl Charlier in his work on stellar statistics, galactic structure and cosmological theory, followed by Knut Lundmark, who studied the galaxies and their distances.

In the 1960s a new place for observations outside Lund was erected, at Jävan. The institution within Lund moved to new premises in 2001. All the instruments were cleared from the old building, as it changed ownership to the community of Lund. As far as I could gather, it is the astronomical institution which is responsible for their documentation and care, and a few of the old instruments are on exhibit at present in the new building. Nearby the new brick building is a water tower, with a small cupola mounted on the top.

Inga Elmqvist Söderlund : The Old Stockholm Observatory in a Swedish Context and an Argument for the Necessity of an Inventory of the Swedish Astronomical Heritage

Lund 1 obverseOn the obverse of the medal left facing portrait on Axel Möller is visible. Behind him his birth (1830) and death (1896) dates are displayed. Legend around is: "D · M · AXELIUS · MÖLLER · PROFESSOR · ASTRONOMIAE · LUNDENSIS", i. e. Didrick Magnus Axel Möller the professor of astronomy at Lund. Möller received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1869. In front of the neck of the professor the sign of the medalist Erik Lindberg is visible. He was best known for designing the Nobel Prize medals.

Lund 1  reverseThe reverse is dominated by the building of the observatory, with a starry background and a comet. The legend around is: "ARCANA · COELESTIA · INVESTIGAVIT · JUVENTUTI · EXHIBUIT" (to be translated). Below: "SOCIO · RERUM · COELESTIUM SCRUTATORI R· ACAD· SCIENT· SUEC· MCMVI". i. e. issued by the Swedish Scientific Academy in 1906.

The history of the Lund Observatory goes back to the 17th century, although the building that appears on the medal was built in the 19th century. (See the text box on the right.) Unfortunately the building was emptied in the beginning of the the 21th century, when the observatory was moved to the norther campus of the Lund University. The Lund Observatory is famous for the so called "The Lund Panorama of the Milky Way". The enormous 1 meter X 2 meter picture of our Galaxy was a two year work to be completed in 1955.