About the time comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into giant planet Jupiter in July, 1994, and the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11 was celebrated, a handful of amateur astronomers at the University of Constance, Germany, found together and formed the `Interessengemeinschaft Astronomie an der Universität Konstanz' (Astronomy Interest Group at the University of Constance), having in mind to coordinate their individual activities in the field of amateur astronomy in a free and open manner, to mutually participate in each other's work, benefit from each other's experiences, and undertake common activities.
The group quickly grew to about 10 members, and in steps reached the number of about 25 interested persons in mid-1996; because of our widely informal structure, it is not possible to give an exact number, as we never had an official membership. The group is still open for new persons, there are no conditions but interest in astronomy.
The activities of the group include about bi-weekly meetings, where usually information is exchanged, persons present their own work or interesting astronomical and space-related items, and further activities are planned and coordinated. Early, we started to carry out public events, presenting work of our members, and recent astronomical research results. As the group grew, it was time to get a bulletin board for a more effective information exchange (and presentation); we were lucky to get an excellent place for this, just facing the main entrance of the university.
There was always the wish to get an own instrument and observing place for the group, but this tended to stay a dream until Gerrit Schmitz-Veltin, our university librarian, joined the group: He has a very good instrument, a 6-inch f/10 refractor, completely equipped with mount and accessories, which he offered to the group on a long-term lending basis, provided that a stable protecting house would be provided by the university. Gerrit was finally able to get this organized, with the appreciated help and cooperation of the dean of the physics department, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mlynek, and the department's secretary, Hanns Fahlbusch. Nevertheless, it took more than half a year for the administration to get flagstones and gravel for the observing place up on the top roof of the University. Eventually, by February 1997, the observing place was equipped with a permanently mounted tripod. "First Light" for the "university observatory" occurred in early March 1997, just right to observe the first sunspots of the new cycle, Mars at its 1997 opposition, and brilliant comet Hale-Bopp at its best. In July 1997, the protecting house for storing the telescope was eventually completed, which had been constructed by the university's workshop under P. Hörmann, thanks!
Already in spring 1997, the "observatory" was regularly running and is open for public viewing every Monday, following our regular meetings (whenever they take place), or after dusk. Special events are held as occasions occur, and it is possible to arrange dates for guided tours and observing.