The Vienna observatory operated from 1753. In the beginning it was located on the top of the building of the university. The new observatory building was opened in 1878.

The first observatory was built on top of the university building during the reign of Maria Theresa in 1752-1753. Its first director was Maximilian Hell, who traveled to Lapland and done there successful measurements during the 1769 transit of Venus

The construction of the new buildings of Vienna University Observatory started in 1874 to be finished by 1878 in a form visible on the reverse of this medal. The observatory was handed over by the Austrian emperor and Hungarian King Franz Joseph I in 1883. The reverse of the medal is dominated by the observatory's building. Below it is inscription: "HARVM · AEDIVM · AVCTORI", that is to the creator of this building, below year in Roman numerals "MDCCCLXXVIII" i. e. 1878.

Bécs Telescope obverseBécs Telescope hátlap

The building was started to build at the time of directorate of Karl von Littrow Lugwig, but he did not live to see the ceremony of the hand over and died on 16 November 1877. On the obverse Littrow's bust facing half left, surrounded by the legend: "CARLO · DE · LITTROW · VIRO · HVMANITATE · INGENIO · DOCTRINA · INSIGNI" i. e. to Karl Littrow the extraordinary educated, talented man of science.

Karl Ludwig von Littrow was born in 1811 in Kazan, in Russia, where his father, the also astronomer Joseph Johann von Littrow taught astronomy at the university there. Karl himself became an assistant astronomer on his father's side in 1831. After his father's death in 1840, he became the director of the observatory in 1842.

Below the shoulder engraver's signature is placed: A. SCHARFF, i. e. Anton Scharff, Vienna medalist.