Day trip destination
Observatory at Gummer: the village of the stars
If you find the expanses of the Universe fascinating, then you should go to the Observatory at Gummer near Karneid where stars, suns and planets are brought close enough to touch.
Lots of cloudless nights, little light pollution and hardly any air turbulence: these conditions are necessary for building an observatory. The little village of Gummer near Karneid – near Bozen – fulfils all of these conditions and has used them not just to create an observatory, but a whole village of stars, too. As well as an observatory, there is a planetarium, a solar observatory and a Planets Path in the village. This has made the first 'star village' in Europe into a Mecca for stargazers. While astronomers from all over the world meet here in summer, the observatory attracts non-experts all the year round.
The Observatory is located a little way past the village of Gummer in the district of Karneid, 35 minutes' drive from Bozen. A few metres behind Untereggerhof farm, there are two small, round houses with a cupola roof housing the Observatory and the Solar Observatory. The cupolas have roofs that may be opened, as is usual with observatories, in order to allow unencumbered views of the night sky. You can see how the location of the Observatory at Gummer is ideal for observing the stars: it is right at the start of the Dolomites and opens up onto a wide panorama. As soon as your eyes have got used to the dark, you can not just look up at the stars, but also at the surrounding mountains. It is advisable to wrap up warm (even in summer), as the nights at this altitude can get really chilly. But before visitors enter the Observatory, there is a short introduction to astronomy. Then they can observe through the telescope what has just been explained to them.
From sun to sun
The Solar Observatory may be found next to the Observatory at Karneid. Here too, observation starts with an introduction to astronomy. This is done by members of the 'Max Valier' Amateur Astronomers' Association, whose goal it is to convey useful knowledge about the Universe to interested parties.
But a trip to the Observatory at Gummer is not complete until you have had a walk along the Planets Path. This brings a tangibility to the dimensions and interrelationships that exist in space by representing the solar system on a scale from one to billion. Visitors can find out more about the individual planets at various locations – the distances between these as well as their size are also proportional to their scale. The walk leads for two to three hours through meadows, forest and biotopes and is recommended as a family walk. Last but not least, walkers are accompanied by fantastic views of the Dolomites.
A seat in the Universe
Anyone wishing to gaze at the stars whilst staying in the warm may stop off at the Planetarium. A simulation room that displays the course of celestial bodies regardless of the time of day and weather conditions has been created right on the village square of Gummer. Up to 55 guests may sit in cinema seats and watch the screen projected onto the dome roof like in a space ship: the 360-degree screen shows images in 3D to music and sound effects. There are only a few of these monitor-type domes in the world and the one at Gummer is unique with its high definition. During the showings, you soon get the feeling that you are sitting right at the centre of the Universe.