The AIUB has its research focus on fundamental astronomy, most likely the oldest branch of astronomy. In the academic curriculum the Astronomical and the Physical Institutes of the University of Bern offer the astronomy and astrophysics modules in the bachelor and master programs of the university of Bern.
Combining observational skills and theoretical work has traditionat the AIUB. Modern observations are performed at the Zimmerwald observatory. The observation methods include astrometric positions of natural and artificial celestial bodies, distances and distance differences of artificial Earth satellites.
The Zimmerwald observatory
Satellite Laser Ranging with cm-accuracy, the measurement of distance differences to GNSS (Global Navitation Satellite Systems) satellites, measured in the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum, are used to determine the satellites' orbits, the terrestrial reference frame, the Earth's gravity field, for worldwide time synchronization, and so on. The results achieved by the AIUB are a significant contribution to the official products of the IERS (International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service).
GOCE Mission of ESA (has been launched on March 17, 2009)
CCD observations acquired by the one-meter telescopes in Zimmerwald and the ESA telescope on Tenerife are used searching minor planets and space debris. The astrometric positions are used to determine the orbits of these objects. These results significantly contribute to international search programs and projects, e.g., to feed ESA's space debris model.
Zimmerwald CCD frame of geostationy satellites in front of star background.
Research at AIUB is performed in two groups:
The AIUB has about 25 co-workers (including Master and Ph.D. candidates). The results of the institute's research are not only presented in papers but also compiled in book form. Dr. Andreas Verdun, specialized in the history of astronomy of the 18th century, currently edits two volumes of Euler's Complete Works with contributions to the field of Celestial Mechanics.