On the road: Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, Days 1-4

Posted by David Eicher
on Monday, October 24, 2011

OK, I’m on vacation, but I will share some tidbits from time to time from the trip I’m on with Melita Thorpe of MWT Associates and a small group of 15 Astronomy magazine readers, trekking our way throughout Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. We all had a great flight over from the United States on Friday and arrived in Munich exhausted, able to make a 2.5-hour drive to the industrial city of Stuttgart and wander about the town for a short time before passing out on Saturday night. Sunday, October 23, marked our first full day of sightseeing, and we started with the Mercedes-Benz Museum outside Stuttgart, which had on display a spectacular collection of many dozens of vehicles in a futuristic, eight-story building, from the first car ever produced in 1886 to an array of ultra-modern racing cars.

The great city square at Stuttgart, Germany, October 22, 2011.
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe featured a spectacular gull-wing door design, Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany, October 23, 2011
The Kepler Museum in Weil der Stadt, Germany, preserves the house in which Johannes Kepler was born and spent his first years, October 23, 2011.
We then proceeded to Weil der Stadt, a small medieval town to the west, the birthplace of the genius mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. At the Kepler Museum, our expert guides Herman Faber and Gottfried Reimann, both board members of the museum, spent a great block of time telling us about Kepler’s life and sharing numerous artifacts within the house with us. It was quite incredible to see excellent copies of all of Kepler’s major books and to see the room in which Kepler was born. We then explored the rest of this really charming small town.


Today, Monday the 24th, we kept the museum theme going as we moved to another small town, Oberkochen, Germany, home to Carl Zeiss AG, recognized as the greatest optical company in the world nearly since its inception in the 1840s. The corporate optical museum presented a tour of many dozens of rare optical instruments, from telescopes to binoculars, microscopes, cameras and lenses, spectacles, planetarium optics, and much more. We saw early telescopes, cameras and lenses carried by astronauts on spacewalks, and numerous other important instruments.

Our group then carried on with the long trip eastward to Prague, where we arrived tonight. On the way, we stopped to see Pilsen, Czech Republic, home of Pilsner beer but also an occupied city liberated by none other than old Blood and Guts, George Patton, in the final week of World War II. The city commemorates the liberation with a large festival each year.

I’ll continue to bring you a bit about our trip as it continues on, next with three nights in Prague and more on Kepler and his teacher, Tycho Brahe.

To see pictures from my trip so far, check out the Astronomy.com Trips and Tours page

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On the road: Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic

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