Not a pocket calculator

Our object of the month is an arithmometer, or a calculator, which dates back to the 1880s. The metal device included in the Observatory’s collections has a 16-digit row displaying the results of calculations. The lever in the middle of the device is used to select the current operation, and the values to be calculated are entered using eight vertical input sliders. Each slider goes from zero to nine, with a crank handle on the right-hand side to confirm the values given.

A metal calculator in a wooden box.
An arithmometer from the 1880s. The object is 10 cm in height, 59.2 cm in length and 19.3 cm in width. Image: Timo Huvilinna, Helsinki University Museum Flame.

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Heaven on Earth: The meteorite at Helsinki Observatory

Old objects are usually not to be touched in exhibitions, but the meteorite at Helsinki Observatory is an exception to the rule. Despite being far older than any other object at the Observatory, the public are expressly invited to touch it. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Observatory’s permanent exhibition, our object of the month in October is the meteorite at Helsinki Observatory.

A shiny metallic meteorite resting on a blue table. A hand emerging from the top right corner of the photo touches the meteorite with one finger.
Please touch! Photo: Paula Kyyrö / Helsinki University Museum.

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The Observatory’s public timepiece

A beautiful old, still-functioning precision pendulum clock hangs on the wall of a corridor leading to the Argelander lecture room at the Helsinki Observatory. This ‘Normal Zeit’ clock used to be placed in the lobby of the Observatory building where it functioned as a public timepiece that Helsinki residents could use to check the time. It is soon again time to turn the clock one hour forward when summer time begins. There are plenty of clocks at the Helsinki Observatory, including several precision clocks, the oldest of which dates back to the 18th century. How are these clocks linked to the Observatory?

An elongated wall-mounted grandfather clock, with a round, glass-covered clock face in a wooden case and the clock pendulums behind a glass door underneath.
Normal Zeit clock at the Observatory. Photo: Helsinki University Museum/Timo Huvilinna, 2013.

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