The Archives

The archives' rearrangement, which started in the 90's, was carried out by the Arts & Books cooperative, a group specializing in the field of archives and book management. In 1996, the work was concluded with the writing of the inventory, which was published in 1999. Such work has rescued a huge body of documents, of about 48,000, from deterioration, consisting of manuscripts, typescripts, printed materials, drawings of instruments, architectural blueprints, portraits and lithographs.
The sorted materials span the period from 1802 to 1948 and give witness to the history and the scientific activities of the Observatory of Naples from its origin to the end of the Second World War. The oldest documents are letters and private diaries of Carlo Brioschi, which date back to the first decade of 1800, when he was in Milan.
The arrangement of the archives is based on a new thesaurus of controlled terms which is made up of 121 headings: 5 main categories (Home, Administration, Scientific Activities, Correspondence and Private Documents, General) divided into 25 classes, 67 subclasses and 24 parts.
The archives inventory has been remotely searchable, since 2004, via a search engine. This new tool, whose design was the subject of the thesis of a student from the Salerno University, consists of a database, which besides searching documents, can also associate images to the archival units.
During the recent transfer of the archival documents to a new site, two new folders have been discovered. These contain records concerning the staff en force at the Observatory during the 20's to the 40's and a guest book dating back to the 30's. These need to be arranged and integrated into the historical archives.
Future work, in addition to compiling a correspondence calendar, will involve rearranging and inventorying both the documents produced by the Observatory from 1949 to 1960 and the records forming the private archives of the Neapolitan astronomer and mathematician Vittorio Nobile; these were donated to the Observatory in 2009 by his heirs.
Annexed to the archives is an astrophotographic section of historical and scientific value, in need of rearranging and inventorying. It is made up of a series of 29 photograpic and slide albums and a large nimber of plates. The images cover the period from 1929-1999 and depict places, staff and important moments concerning the public outreach activities carried out at the Observatory.
The plates date back to the 60's and 70's and represent interesting images of solar spots, star spectras and lunar craters.


Head of the Historical Archives:
Emilia Olostro Cirella
INAF - Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte
tel. +39-0815575614 ; fax +39-0815575434
Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte

  • Sketch by Brioschi
    Positions of the main stars made by Carlo Brioschi, 1802 ca.
  • Award to de Gasparis
    Knight’s medal of the Order of the Red Eagle Awarded to de Gasparis, 1854
  • Credit note
    Certificate of Credit of £328 drawn up by Cassa di Corte Argento for Zuccari, 1814
  • Rotating dome
    Blue print for a rotating dome by the firm Bombelli, 1934 ca.
  • Osservatorio di Marina instruments
    Official Act of Delivery to Capocci of the instruments of the Osservatorio di Marina, 1834

Project Status

    The archives is completely arranged except for the documents found recently.

  • credits


  • Carrino, C.; Esposito, V.; Olostro Cirella, E.; Tallarino, P. (a cura di), Inventario di archivio dell'Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, 1802-1948, Napoli, Arti Grafiche Licenziato, 1999
  • Olostro Cirella, E., The Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory historical archive: a multipurpose tool, in: LISA IV, edited by B. G. Corbin, E. P. Bryson, M. Wolf, Washington, U.S. Naval Observatory, 2003, pp. 359-362
Text by Emilia Olostro Cirella