The INAF Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri

The INAF Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri (OAA), in Florence, is one of sixteen research facilities that are part of the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF); OAA currently employs morethan one hundred people, between permanent and temporary staff, including researchers, technicians, and administrative personnel. The Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory (OAA), located in Florence, has a long history behind it that begins in 1869, the year of its foundation, during the period Florence was the capitalof Italy. The Observatory is located on the top of the Arcetri hill, where there are other prestigious institutions such as the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Florence, the National Institute of Optics of the CNR, the Galileo Galilei Institute of the INFN. The Arcetri hill was recently designated a historic site by the European Physical Society, due to to its considerable historical-scientific interest.
OAA is part of many scientific and institutional collaborations with other INAF offices, as well as with other national and international research institutes and universities, in particular with the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Florence. There are numerous agreements and activities carried out in collaboration with citizens and regional bodies.
Born as a stellar and then solar observatory, INAF-OAA today carries out a great variety of research at the frontiers of astrophysics and related to cutting-edge technologies. On top of these activities OAA carries out a rich program in the context of higher education, and the dissemination of astronomical culture in schools and to the general public.

Astrophysics research. The astrophysical research of INAF-OAA is aimed at the study and exploration of the Cosmos, at the interpretation of the phenomena that occur in the nearby and in the more distant Universe, and at the understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms of all of its components: galaxies, stars, planets, life.
In particular, researchers in Arcetri are dedicated to topics ranging from the study of the minor bodies of the Solar System, such as asteroids and comets, to astrobiology, a new and rapidly growing research area, which involves laboratory analysis of material samples taken from the surface of asteroids and brought back to earth thanks to innovative space missions; from the formation of stars starting from the gas and dust that permeate the interstellar medium, to the study of circumstellar disks, whose fragmentation can lead to the formation of planetary systems; from the so-called Galactic archeology - the study of stars and their properties as tracers of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way -, to the investigation of the galaxies of the Local Group and more distant ones, which were formed in the early evolutionary stages of the Universe; from the chemistry of the early Universe, to the processes of synthesis of chemical elements that occur in stellar interiors and thanks to which oxygen and other essential elements for life are produced; from observational cosmology, to black holes, to astrophysics of higher energies, which studies "extreme" phenomena and objects, such as the acceleration of cosmic rays, supernova remnants, neutron stars, pulsars.

Technological development. Cutting-edge technological research is also carried out at INAF-OAA. Technologists develop next-generation instruments, and participate with key coordinating roles in many of the major development projects of new telescopes and instruments, both from the ground and from space. The Arcetri Observatory has an important tradition in technologies for adaptive optics, spectroscopy and radio astronomy.

Doors open to the public. In addition to research and technological development, the Observatory combines numerous opportunities for dissemination, communication of science and teaching. Guided tours for schools and the general public are held both during the day and at night, during which the historical Amici Telescope is still used to fascinate the public with observations of the sky. Arcetri also carries out educational laboratory activities for children, astronomy courses, and training courses for teachers at schools.