Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

ZAH Guide

Starting your employment at ZAH

(Last update: Feb. 17, 2021)

Welcome to the ZAH! We hope you will enjoy working at our institute. This guide is to help you get started. 

  • Before you even arrive at the ZAH it is very important to get/keep in contact with the secretary in charge of your employment contract (if you don't know: ask your employer/supervisor). The reason: the contract must be formally signed by you before any salary payments can start to flow! The University strictly does not backdate contracts. If you are too late, you might miss one month worth of salary.
  • Also don't forget to start checking out well ahead of time if you need a visa and/or work permit. If you have no clue: ask the secretary in charge or visit THIS website of Heidelberg University on visa and other entrance formalities.
  • Housing in Heidelberg and the surroundings is not easy. If you are early enough, you may be able to get an apartment in the University Guest House for the first few weeks/months (ask the secretary in charge, well in advance!). Housing rents in Heidelberg are high. But if you search a bit outside of Heidelberg (e.g. Dossenheim, Ziegelhausen, Leimen or Neckargemünd) rents drop considerably. You can also ask your supervisor if he/she knows anyone leaving soon; maybe you can take over his/her apartment. To find an apartment yourself you might also consider THIS website provided by the "Studentenwerk" of Heidelberg University.
  • In Germany it is mandatory for every person to have health insurance. Therefore, all applicants for a residence permit are required to demonstrate adequate health insurance coverage before receiving such a permit for Germany. Please visit THIS website for more information about this issue.
  • The Welcome Centre of Heidelberg University is the central information and service institution for international scholars after PhD at Heidelberg University. They provide the necessary information, advice and customized support around all topics relevant for preparing a stay in Heidelberg and everyday life.
  • The Graduate Academy is the central coordinating body for all support services related to general advising, professional and academic development and financial assistance for PhD candidates at Heidelberg University.
  • Additonal information can be found on the international affairs webpage of the University.
  • In addition, you may have noticed that you sometimes get an E-Mail from “Zentrum fuer Astronomie” with the subject starting with “[ZAH-Infothek2] …..”, even before you have actually arrived in Heidelberg. Please do not ignore such emails, since they contain important notifications regarding your employment at ZAH and/or membership within a research group (including their email lists). 

Concise overview of ZAH structure

(Last update: Nov. 28, 2022)

The Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg (ZAH) links together the Astronomisches Recheninstitut (ARI), the Institut für Theoretische Astrophysik (ITA) and the Landessternwarte (LSW). The ZAH has a managing director (one of the full professors of the ZAH - currently Prof. Dr. Norbert Christlieb) - and a scientific manager (Dr. Guido Thimm). The latter is your primary contact person for ZAH-related questions. Each of the three institutes also has a local managing director.

The ZAH is run by a directorial board currently consisting of the nine full professors:

at ARI: Prof. Dr Eva Grebel, Prof. Dr Joachim Wambsganß, Prof. Dr Björn Malte-Schäfer

at ITA: Prof. Dr Ralf Klessen, Prof. Dr Cornelis Dullemond, Prof. Dr Friedrich Röpke (HITS associate)

at LSW: Prof. Dr Norbert Christlieb, Prof. Dr Andreas Quirrenbach, Prof. Dr Saskia Hekker (HITS associate)

Associated to (but not part of) the ZAH is the Heidelberg Institut für Theoretische Studien (HITS). Its two astrophysics group leaders are professors at ZAH (Prof. Dr Saskia Hekker, Prof. Dr Friedrich Röpke).

The ZAH is a separate institution within the university. However, all ZAH professors are also faculty members of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. ZAH also has several adjunct professors and other senior science staff. A full list of research groups and their descriptions can be found at

For all administrative matters (except for computer facilities, see section on computers) please contact the local secretary in charge at your institute. Currently, the main secretarial/administrative support is (office hours: day of week and morning (a) or afternoon (p) presence indicated):

at ARI:

at ITA:

at LSW:

Admission to doctoral studies and university enrollment

(Last update: Oct. 14, 2021)

If you want to start doctoral studies at ZAH you have to apply for admission to the Heidelberg Graduate School for Physics (HGSFP), which handles the admission and administration of all PhD researchers for the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Heidelberg University, or to the International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics at the University of Heidelberg (IMPRS-HD).

IMPRS-HD is an independent part of the HGSFP and the IMPRS-HD application form is equivalent to the application form of the HGSFP. However, the IMPRS asks you for some additional specific astronomy/astrophysics-related input, which is important for the evaluation of your application. All astronomy/astrophysics applications at IMPRS-HD and HGSFP will be evaluated by the same IMPRS-HD evaluation committee.

Computer accounts, E-Mail, System Administrators etc.

(Last update: July 11, 2022)

System administrators

At ARI and ITA, the primary computer system administrators are Sven Weimann and N.N. (soon to come). You can contact them via email to admin(at) Please always use this email address, do not address just to one of the admins alone. For the LSW the local administrators are Ingo Stilz und Florian Rothmaier.

Accounts for ITA and ARI

Please note that In order to get your ARI/ITA account, your employment/stay at ZAH must be listed in our  internal personnel database, including your E-Mail address. If this is the case, you will receive an automatic mail from our system with instructions about how to apply for an account. If you don't receive such an email, please ask your supervisor or at your local administration to make sure the listing in the personnel database exist and includes your mail address. If this is the case and you still don't receive such a mail, please contact the admins at admin(at)


When you have a working contract with the  University or are an enrolled student, you will (should) automatically get a Uni-ID, i.e. a university-wide identification number (e.g. "uh320") that is your key to all university computational and data services. Usually, you will receive it via postal mail several days after you have signed your contract. If you think it may take too long, please contact the ZAH system administrators (see below). If you are an external long term guest, please contact your local secretaries or the admins on how to get account for you. Please make sure to have a safe password on your Uni-ID, since it unlocks everything. For employees, the Uni-ID will be valid for ~30 days after your employment ends. During this time, you can still login to your account, e.g. to configure mail forwarding. After this grace period, the account will be terminated and can not be further extended without a formal working contract at the university.


The Uni-ID gives you access to an email account at the university computer center ("Uni-RechenZentrum - URZ"). You can find it at An overview of email servers and their usage is given here. At LSW, a local independent email system is used. Ask the system admin at LSW for details. At ARI and ITA we only use university mailservers. Please also have a look at

Note that you can forward your email to another account if your contract at our institute is about to expire. For employee Uni-IDs, this forwarding should be active until the end of the next calendar year after the end of your employment (e.g. if your contract ends anytime in 2022, the forwarding will be active until the end of 2023).


The ZAH webpage is managed by Guido Thimm. The underlying content management system and webservers are managed by the system admins. The institute web pages are managed locally. You can set up your own webpage for your professional profile. Please ask the system admins. The ZAH webpage features a "news" section. If you have a new discovery, press release, or have other news that you think would be nice to feature on the website of the ZAH, please contact Guido Thimm.

VPN, eduroam, wireless

The University has services that are only accessible from inside the university network. That can be annoying if you are at home with your laptop. The solution is the VPN service of the URZ.  This VPN solution also allows you to access all electronic journals that the University is subscribed to! 

The University is part of eduroam URZ:, which is superb if you are on travel: most universities worldwide now have joined eduroam, so that you do not have annoying issues with getting online while on your business trip. On the entire university campus you can access the University wireless network via Eduroam, but this needs special configuration on your client (see link above). If  you don't want or can't install this configuration for your system for some reason, you  can use the UNI-WEBACCESS network instead, but this requires you to enter your Uni-ID credentials in a so called captive portal after you have logged in.


ZAH IT Guide

Please also check out the ZAH IT Guide, which gives you an overview about our internal services.

Computer Clusters

Many groups have their own computer servers. For access to those, please ask your supervisor. 

The University participates in the bwForCluster computer clusters (including the BinAC cluster). You need a Uni-ID for access, but even then: you first have to request access. Consult your supervisor, and/or and/or the following webpage:

Typically your supervisor (if you are a student or postdoc) will have a project ("Rechenvorhaben") at BwFor, and you can request access to BwFor (including BinAC) via that project by asking your supervisor the ID of the "Rechenvorhaben" and the password.

Note that the access request will have to be approved by the ZAH-Director. Once you requested access, the ZAH-Director will automatically get an eMail from the system for confirmation. This should be reasonably quick. If not, please ask

Note also that SFB 881 members have access to a dedicated SFB 881 cluster. Please contact Prof. Ralf Klessen about this.

More details about ZAH computing ressources can be found at<link ari/internal-information/it-guide/ - moz-txt-link-freetext> </link> (Note: only accessible from within the ZAH.

Seminars, Colloquia, Talks

(Last update: August 23, 2019)

Every day, ZAH and the astronomy community in Heidelberg as a whole offer several seminars, colloquia and talks about a wide range of astrophysical topics. We have a central database for all these events:

HePhySTO, the Heidelberg Physics Seminar and Talk Organizer

This is your go-to source of respective information. You can in fact even register for automatic announcements by email, and you can insert automatic calendar events into your electronic calendar.

Trips to conferences, meetings, observing runs, etc.

(Last update: Sept. 12, 2022)

At ZAH, the procedure to handle business trips to conferences, workshops, meetings, observatories etc. is described below. We ask you to follow these instructions strictly in order to avoid problems later on, e.g. with your travel reimbursement. Further information in German is provided on the official travel website of the university.

How to get travel authorization

Generally, business trips need to be approved by the managing director of your institute or his deputies. This holds true even if you were given your own budget by third party funds. Please note that in addition to financial aspects, the travel authorization is also important for insurance reasons. Without proper authorization, your trip is from an insurance perspective regarded as a private trip.

You need to acquire travel authorization FIRST before booking your trip.

The following steps and aspects have to be taken into account:

  1. The travel authorization form (English version or German version) has to be submitted to your local administration prior to your planned trip. The earlier you do that the better. If flights are involved, which you'll want to book quite a bit earlier, please hand in the authorization form at least 1.5 to 2 months ahead of the trip to ensure that you can still get a low price for the ticket. On the form, you should specify which grant of funding source is to be used for the reimbursement.
  2. For "purpose of travel", do not just write "Conference" or "Collaboration meeting", but give the title and the dates of the conference or append a document describing the collaboration meeting (this can be a printout of the web page of the collaboration meeting or a letter inviting you for such a meeting).
  3. Along with the form you have to provide a cost estimate of the trip (flight+additional transport, accommodation, conference fees, etc.). If you are part of a group, authorization by your your supervisor is also required.
  4. Together with your travel authorization form you have to apply for a "Proof of Social Security" (which in German is called "A1-Bescheinigung") for travels abroad within the European Union and a few additional countries (for a list of countries see e.g. HERE - you have to scroll a bit and click "Mitgliedstaaten"), no matter how short your trip will be. The procedure is as follows:

    4.1 Together with your travel authorization form you fill out an "A1 application form", which unfortunatly is only available in German. Depending on your employment status and destination (EU member state or not) you have to fill out different forms:

    - all scientist except for those who are "Beamte" use THIS form for trips to EU-member states.
    - all scientist except for those who are "Beamte" use THIS form for trips to NON EU-member states.
    - "Beamte" use THIS form for trips to EU-member states.
    - "Beamte" use THIS form for trips to NON EU-member states.

    4.2 Pass both forms (travel authorization and A1 application) to your local administration. They will check your request and pass it to the appropriate director for approval. To fill out the A1 application form your personal ID number (Personalnummer) is required. You can find it on your payroll sheet.

    4.3 Both approved forms will be scanned and sent to you via mail. You should then on your business trip carry along a printout of these documents unless you have received the regular "Poof of Social Security" which you will then use instead of the A1 application form (see below).

    4.4 Our administration will forward your A1 application form to the respective authorities ("Landesanstalt für Besoldung und Versorgung Baden-Württemberg" or the "Deutsche Rentenversicherung" for civil servants). These will check, approve and send back to you the "Proof of Social Security" which looks like THIS. After receipt, you have to provide a copy of this document to your local administration.
  5. Please note that the A1 application process can take up to 4 weeks!
  6. THIS is an interesting FAQ-site regarding the A1-issue. Have a look.


How to get travel advances

In case of expensive business trips you can apply for advance. The informal advance application has to be submitted to your local administration together with the approved travel authorization form. You have to append documents showing the costs of your accommodation, transportation, etc. If there are unusual expenses (e.g., you are travelling alone but are booking a double room) you need to justify and document that (e.g. you may be booking a double room for single usage because all single rooms are booked out already). Please note that if you are requesting an advance it is important to hand in the travel authorization form well ahead of your trip!

Combining business trips with private stay

If you want to combine a business trip with a private stay, do specify that on your travel authorization form. Also hand in a vacation application form if work days are affected.

Additional costs arising due to the private extension, e.g. more expensive flight tickets, must be payed privately. Make sure to get two offers from your travel agency: one for business-only, and one for an extended stay, so that the difference is clear. Please also note that the private part should not exceed 5 working days (if it does, then your flight or train tickets cannot be reimbursed - though of course your accommodation during the business part of the trip can).

Who is approving your travel authorization

ZAH, the following people are responsible for approving travel requests:

at ARI: Eva Grebel, Björn Schäfer, Joachim Wambsganss

at ITA: Cornelis Dullemond, Ralf Klessen

at LSW: Norbert Christlieb, Andreas Quirrenbach

How to apply for travel reimbursement

During your travel, make sure to keep tickets, hotel bills, conference fees, boarding cards etc. You do not need to keep receipts for food, instead you get a "per-diem" (fixed amount of money per day) to cover such costs. 

Please tack all tickets that are not A4 (Paper) size onto an A4 paper, for easier handling.

Next, download the travel reimbursement form (only available in German; if you can't read German an older mock English translation might help you to understand the German version, which is to be used to apply for reimbursement).

Fill it out electronically by using an PDF viewer/editor. Sign it and  attach tickets, bills etc. It would be helpful if you indicate the funding source for your business trip, e.g. your DFG grant or your supervisor's overheads.

Now pass this package to the administration of your department.

It may take some time before you receive your reimbursement. If it takes too long, you can ask your administration about the status of the reimbursement process.

Please note that travel expense reports of all kinds (including billing of the BahnCard) must be submitted to the employment authority (University Administration, Dept. 5.1) within a preclusive period of 6 months. This period begins on the day after the end of the business trip. Furthermore, when ordering, approving and carrying out business trips, the principle of economy must always be observed!

Purchases and electronic bills management

(Last update: March 23, 2021)

The university has over the last years switched their bills-management to the so-called "eRechnung" (electronic bill), which aims to introduce electronic invoice processing and digital filing. In doing so, invoices received electronically but also in paper form, as well as all other payment-justifying documents will be electronically recorded, processed and archived. This is to

  • ensure legally compliant invoice processing and archiving in compliance with national and European requirements
  • increase transparency in the invoice processing process
  • comply with discount periods and avoidance of dunning costs thanks to faster invoice processing times
  • increase in the service quality of financial accounting
  • provide direct and simultaneous access to the original documents

How ZAH members are affected and what you have to take into account

  • Electronic bills management is now also introduced at ZAH. All ZAH employees who want to order any kind of material goods (e.g. computers, monitors, equipment, furniture, books, software, handicraft services, etc.) have to coordinate this beforehand with their respective local administration:
    • at ARI: Hildrun Pisch-Papendiek (
    • at ITA: Basma Klinger-Araifa ( or Anna Zacheus (
    • at LSW: Ditta Müller-Wolkenstein ( or Brigitte Farr ( 
  • Procurements financed from the SFB 881 budget must be coordinated with Basma Klinger/Martina Buchhaupt ( 
  • Essentially, your administration generates a dedicated "order number" which must be added to your order and later has to be referenced by the supplier on the respective invoice. This is decisive for the fact that invoices after their central receipt and processing in the financial accounting proceed to the correct "invoice processors" of the decentralized institution such as ZAH. If the order number is not specified, the invoice will be rejected by the payment transactions department of Heidelberg University and will not be paid.
  • Any IT purchases that are not consumables like toner cartridges or memory sticks must be handled by the IT admins (at ARI/ITA Sven Weimann and Peter Schwekendiek, at LSW Monika Darr). Please contact them via admin(at)  for ARI/ITA or for LSW. Please prepare the following information together with your request: what you want to buy, the grant / cost center it should be paid from, who is managing that grant. 
  • Regarding business trips, hotel bills, flight and train tickets and TLS (Air Port shuttle service) will continue to be booked and paid by the business traveler and submitted for reimbursement with the travel expense report. However, TLS bookings by employees via the institute are no longer possible without an order number.
  • Regarding publication costs, colleagues must request an order number from their administration as well as the VAT number of Heidelberg University. 
  • Regarding ZAH guests, any bookings are run exclusively via the ZAH administration.

Who owns items like computers that have been purchased with third-party funds

  • These funds have been handed over to the university for administration. In general, objects like laptops or computer monitors that are purchased with these funds e.g. via Overheads, are not the property of the owner of the research funds, but rather the University of Heidelberg or the state of Baden-Württemberg, respectively. The devices must remain in the institutes or be returned after leaving ZAH. 

Applying for temporary or regular teleworking (home office)

(Last update: Sept. 12, 2022

The chancellor of our university has already informed in his email of 14.4.2022 that the corona-based regulations on temporary homeoffice would expire on August 31 and that the new service agreement on teleworking (Dienstvereinbarung zur Telearbeit, access requires login via Uni-ID) will apply from September 1, 2022. This service agreement is now the basis on which you can work temporarily or regularly at home. It applies to all employees of the university, including the employees of the ZAH.

Below, you find a a summary of the most important conditions, under which working from home - also called teleworking - will also be possible in the future. You will also find a guide to the application process. However, please bear in mind that Heidelberg University continues to rely on personal exchange in all areas. For this reason, working in presence will continue to be an essential part of the cooperation in the future. The recommendations for working in home office are intended to create a framework that ensures transparency, traceability and collegial justice for all parties involved.

What should be considered in the new regulations for teleworking?

The decisive criteria for the agreement of telework are the individual competence of the employees and the suitability of the activities without quantitative and qualitative compromises in teleworking.

  • Two models of telework are offered: regular and temporary telework. Regular telework is carried out on fixed days at fixed times at the place of teleworking (your home office). Temporary teleworking can be flexibly arranged for short-term needs.
  • The decision whether and to what extent telework is agreed is made in consultation between you and your responsible superior, i.e. institute director or your group leader.
  • In view of the special tasks and necessities in a research university, the Chancellor proposed a scope of usually up to 40% of the individual weekly working time for telework. In fact, however, up to 100% of the working time is possible, provided that the conditions for this are met.
  • A period of 24 working days per year in temporary telework should normally not be exceeded.
  • Teleworking agreements shall be valid for a maximum of one year. If the conditions are still met, they can be always extended for a further year.
  • Before the agreement and, if necessary, extension, an employee appraisal takes place, in which the framework conditions for the implementation of successful telework and the topics of occupational safety, as well as data and IT security are discussed. A risk assessment for the teleworking workplace must also be carried out by using THIS FORM.
  • The institution provides the IT resources and IT equipment needed to carry out the official activity at your teleworking place. But you have to provide equipment with furniture, lighting and IT access (e.g. router).
  • On the basis of work results and feedback, superiors check whether teleworking performs the same as in presence.
  • You have to ensure the usual accessibility in teleworking as in the context of your work in the department. This is usually the case by email or by rerouting your desktop telefone at the institute.

How do I apply for temporary or regular home work?

The application is made in three steps:

  1. You first submit an "application for the granting of teleworking" to your superior, e.g. your group leader, provided by the staff council of the university. This serves the documentation and gives you the opportunity to participate in the staff council in accordance with the rules in the event of a rejection or restriction of the scope requested by you. With this application, you formally ask for a personnel interview, which must be carried out promptly in accordance with the service agreement. This application also refers to "necessary documents". This refers to the forms provided by the university, which you have to fill out in the second step. You can also ask in this form that your superior helps you fill out the second form required (see below). You can also ask the ZAH Scientific Manager (Guido Thimm).
  2. Your supervisor conducts your personnel interview. This must take place when an agreement is concluded for the first time, but also with each extension. In the discussion, the framework conditions for the implementation of successful telework are a central topic, but also includes things that may have to be taken into account in the home office when dealing with business information and personal data. How this conversation has be conducted is not specified.
  3. As part of the teleworking service agreement, you must in this third step fill out a second form based on the content of your personnel interview with your superior. For this so-called "framework agreement on a teleworking place", there is an application form for "temporary teleworking", e.g. a week that you spend at home to complete a paper, and the "Reguläre Telearbeit", if you e.g. regularly on a certain day of the week perform the official business from the home workplace. You must have the respective form signed in duplicate by your supervisor. He has to send a copy to the personnel management office at Heidelberg University. For employees of the ZAH this is usually Ms. Cornelia Striebinger (cornelia.striebinger(at) For ZAH civil servants ("Beamte"), this is Mrs. Iris Wick (iris.wick(at) In both cases, the address is "Seminarstr. 2, 69117 Heidelberg".

After these three steps, the procedure for authorising telework is completed.

What else  do I have to consider?

  • The agreement on regular working hours is concluded for a period of up to one year. It can be extended for a further year if the conditions or framework conditions have not changed.  For this purpose, the corresponding form in accordance with step 2 must be completed again, approved by the supervisor and sent to the HR department.
  • The telework agreement can be terminated without notice, e.g. if requirements have been omitted. If this dismissal is made by the supervisor, the respective employee can involve the staff council.
  • I have attached a simple EXCEL table which you may use to keep track of your working hours at home.
  • General information on the university's working time regulations can be found HERE.

Summary of documents (access only after login via UNI-ID)


Every employee on a contract (not those on stipends) has a holiday card. You have a certain number of holidays you can freely choose. However, they have to be approved by your employer. Simply ask the secretary. There are also a number of official fixed holidays (Christmas, Easter etc). You can find these official holidays on e.g.

Affiliation of ZAH and its member institutes

(Last update: Febr. 17, 2021)

The directorate of the ZAH has noticed that there are various versions of how people refer to their institute in scientific publications. This is problematic e.g. for compiling citation statistics. Furthermore, there should be a "corporate identity" of the ZAH. We are therefore asking you to use the guidelines described here.

Students at ZAH

Students at ZAH are actually students at the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. Anything related to their study should be discussed with the relevant authorities at the faculty:

- For Bachelor and Master students this would be the student secretariat at the INF227 building (Mrs Nerger or Mrs Hiemenz), the administrator of the physics and astronomy study (Dr. Ostrowski), the chair(wo)man of the examination office (Prof. Dullemond) or the dean of studies.

- For PhD students this would be the Dean's office or the HGSFP office.

Please keep in mind that students are themselves responsible for abiding by the procedures and rules of the faculty related to their studies.

Furthermore, the Graduate Academy is the central coordinating body for all support services related to general advising, professional and academic development and financial assistance for doctoral candidates at Heidelberg University. On their website, you will find information about e.g. special courses offered by the Graduate Academy or about sources of funding for doctoral candidates.

Teaching duties

Academic personnel has a certain teaching load depending on employment status and contractual regulations. In particular, there is a high demand in tutors for exercise groups which supplement various lectures and courses offered by the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. PhD-students and some staff members usually fulfill their teaching load as tutors in exercise groups which accompany regular lectures in astronomy or physics.

HERE you find a general overview about lectures and courses with such a demand for tutors and a registration platform it you want/need to support our lecturing activities.

How to reach your colleagues at ZAH by e-mail

(Last update: July 12, 2022)

In order to ease communication within ZAH and to avoid flooding everyone's incoming mail boxes with messages, we have created several eMail-list. The most important one are summarized below.

An overview about all lists currenty available can be found HERE (note: only accessible from a computer inside the ZAH or via VPN).

Most important eMail-lists at ZAH:

These e-mail-lists are dynamically created from the personnel data base within the ZAH web page. Members of the ZAH can reach these aliases from their eMail account. Email-groups accociated with somebody are displayed whenever you click the persons' name on this list.

Libraries at ZAH

The Heidelberg University Library provides access to various literature services and of course a variety of books on physics and astronomy. Such books are organized in a separate entity called "Bereichsbibliothek Physik und Astronomie (BPA)" (a sort of sub-library). Part of the BPA are the libraries of ARI, ITA and the LSW. Head of the BPA is Dr. Jochen Apel.

If you want to search for books available e.g. in the field of physics, astronomy or computer sciences you might consider the university online library system HEIDI. Books available at the ZAH libraries are part of this database as well. Many books are also available online.

Astrophysical environment in Heidelberg

Heidelberg has 6 astronomy-related institutes scattered across town, three of them are part of the ZAH (ARI and ITA in Heidelberg Neuenheim, and the LSW on the top of the Königstuhl mountain). The other three are the HITS (on the north slope of the Königstuhl mountain), the MPIK (on the west slope of the Königstuhl mountain) and the MPIA (on top of the Königstuhl mountain next to the LSW). 

For more detailed information, please check out our "Astronomy and Physics in Heidelberg" page.

There is a Science Bus service (Bus 30) that shuttles between the Universitätsplatz in town and the institutes on the Königstuhl. There is also Bus 39 from Bismarckplatz to the Königstuhl. Please consult the RNV website for the schedule.

Support for family, equal opportunity and various other support

The University has various services to help you cope with special circumstances. These include family support issues such as childcare / daycare, advice on issues related to equal opportunity, mediation, and even a concierge service to help you combine work and family responsibilities. You can find all the information about these services on the website of the equal opportunity office.

Income, health insurance and pension

(Last update: June 28, 2022)

For most ZAH-scientists their contract is drawn up in accordance with the german collective  labour agreement for people working in public services (TV-L). Using this income calculator your individual income can be calculated.
Your income depends on various parameters (marital status, experience level, number of children, etc.). Some typical examples are:

Depending on your income you also have the choice between a private or public health insurance. However, if your gross income is below 4.800,- EUR per month you can only opt for the public health insurance. This is obligatory in germany.

We had a couple of cases when non-german citizens brought their private health insurance from their home countries. But even in this case you have to have a public German health insurance. If you have further questions regarding this issues you can contact the ZAH scientific manager for further assistance.

For an overview about Health Insurance Options in Germany see or e.g.

While you work in germany a pension fund will be set up for you and parts of your income will automatically transferred to this fund. This pension insurane scheme is called "Deutsche Rentenversicherung".

If you will at a later stage take up another job outside germany or back in your home country it is possible to have access to this german fund via your local pension agencys. When you are going to retire you apply for pension in your country of residence. Your local agency will then contact the german pension fund and the amount of pension you have obtained during your employment in germany will be paid together will pensions from other employments in Europe or abroad.

Ombudsperson for ZAH-Students and Postdocs

(Last update June 8, 2021)

The ombudspersons of ZAH will act as confidential and impartial advisor and mediator to whom employees and students (and their supervisors) can turn in case of any problems they may encounter in their professional relationship with their supervisor or any other context rearding their duties at ZAH. The role of the ZAH ombudsperson is currently held by our ZAH science manager, Dr. Guido Thimm and staff member Dr. habil. Anna Pasquali.

Questions or problems can be initially submitted to them by email or post. The ombudspersons will then contact the applicant to evaluate the problem and to find a solution. If neccessary, they will together with the applicant determine which offices or authorities may contribute to finding a solution.

In some cases, a simple advising session may be sufficient to resolve the problem. In other cases, the ombudsperson could e.g. with the permission of the applicant arrange a mediation session with the other parties involved. The ombudsperson has the authority to make recommendations regarding further action. The implementation of the recommendations, however, is up to the parties involved.


Dr. habil. Anna Pasquali
E-Mail: pasquali(at)
☎ 06221 54 1872

Dr. Guido Thimm
E-Mail: thimm(at)
☎ 06221 54 1805

We would also like to draw your attention to the
- Heidelberg Graduate Academy's Ombuds-Person Site
- Equal Opportunities Office Site regading Sexual Harassment, Bullying or Stalking

In the event of suspected academic misconduct, also one of the three Senate-appointed ombudsmen – one for the humanities and social sciences, one for natural sciences, and one for life sciences – or the chair of the commission serves as the initial point of contact.  Chain of command is irrelevant. For natural sciences this contact person is Prof. Dr. Günter Helmchen (Phone +49 6221 54-8421,

It is particularly important for us to maintain confidentiality in communication with those affected. In contrast to e.g. WhatsApp or e-mails, which in principle do not allow secure and confidential communication, the use of the university's own system, heiCHAT respective data protection. heiCHAT provides an instant messaging service with capability to send end-to-end encrypted messages, offered by the Uni-Rechen-Zentrum (URZ) of Heidelberg University. It is not necessary to register with the service in order to use it. You can log in using your Uni-ID.

The User-ID of our ombudspersons are (Dr. Anna Pasquali) and (Dr. Guido Thimm). For first contact, please send a short email to pasquali(at) or thimm(at) to notify that a heiChat message awaits them as they will not have heiChat always turned on. The confidential message should, of course, be inserted only in the heiChat message, not in the E-Mail.

Fair conduct and securing adequate planning, comprehensive advice and supervision of PhD research projects

(Last update Febr. 16, 2021)

Success in research and education can only be accomplished in a cooperative environment that values respectful conduct and fair competition as a basis for a positive working and learning environment. Heidelberg University is committed to fair conduct; it safeguards equal and respectful treatment of and between its members on all levels, and supports measures to build and sustain a climate which fosters such conduct. Within its purview the University thus takes on the responsibility for protecting the personal rights and dignity of all its members.

If you would like inform yourself about topics revolving around questions relating to sexual harassment, bullying, stalking and discrimination a summary of university related measures can be found in the Senate Guideline on Fair Conduct.

In addition, student representatives of the Heidelberg Graduate School for Physics (HGSFP) in conjunction with the Directorate of the School have compiled Supervision Guidelines of the HGSFP which give an outline for securing adequate planning, comprehensive advice and supervision.

The Graduate Academy is the central coordinating body for all support services related to general advising, professional and academic development and financial assistance for doctoral candidates at Heidelberg University. They not only provide additional information regarding Fair Conduct but also regularly offer course which help to improve skills on different levels of working in academics. It is useful to study their Course Register of past courses. This may provide an overview about respective courses.

ZAH Student and Postdocs Representatives

(Last update Feb. 15, 2021)

At ZAH the largest group of scientific personnel comprises students and postdocs. Each group has its own specific needs which are manifold related to academic demands or the individual working environment.

To improve the flow of information between these groups and the ZAH directorate, ZAH status group representatives act as mediators. In additon to the ZAH ombuds person they are  trustable spokes and peer persons which ZAH members could approach in any cases regarding their working environment or specific demands which could only be solved on the ZAH executive level.

Issues will be handled confidentially, and/or (if you so wish) will be raised with the appropriate board/authority of the ZAH. ZAH representatives participate in meetings of the ZAH Internal Scientific Council. For each status group and each of the three ZAH institutes one elected person acts as peer representative.

How to reach the Landessternwarte (LSW) via public transport

(Last update June 30, 2022)

GIven that the Landessternwarte Königstuhl is located on top of Königstuhl mountain public transport is not as intense as for other destinations downtown in Heidelberg. You have several options to get up and down depending on where you live and at what time you need to get there and back again:

Bus Line 30 (“Science Bus”)
This is special bus line established for a quick ride up the mountain to the Landessternwarte (LSW) and MPIA within about 10 minutes. You will usually start at Universitätsplatz. For individual schedule of busline 30 check the Getting up timetable / Getting down timetable.
Please note that the bus is a small sized one and in the morning usually packed with scientists having a ride to LSW and MPIA.
Please note current bus stop problem: At the moment, neither on the VRN-Website nor on the download timetable it is labeled that this bus does NOT start or stop at "Universitätsplatz". To avoid problems I recommend that you proceed to the bus stop "Peterskirche", which is only 5 minutes away from the stop at Universiätsplatz.

Bus Line 39
This is a regular bus line which climbs Königstuhl mountain from the south eastern side. Starting at Heidelberg Central Station ("Hauptbahnhof") it will take you about 25 minutes to reach the bus stop "Sternwarte". For individual schedule of bus line 39 check the Getting up timetable / Getting down timetable. Getting off at the bus stop "Sternwarte" it is a 5 minutes walk to the main building of the Landessternwarte.

This is special kind of taxi service of the VRN local public transport agency for those who need to get down hill even later than regular buses can do (between 20:28 and 00:28 o'clock). Transport fees are as for regular public, i.e. as if it were a regular bus. For individual schedule of the "Ruftaxi" check the getting down timetable. ► Please note that you have to order a Ruftaxi at least 30 minutes before you plan to leave at the time given in the schedule via telephone: ☎ 0621/1077077

Regular Taxi
You can order a regular taxi at the central taxi call center via telephone: ☎ 06221 302030

This funicular runs from downtown Heidelberg up to Königstuhl. Get off at Königstuhl (mountainside terminus) and prepare for a 10 to 15 minute walk through pleasant surroundings to the Landessternwarte. See HERE for a repective timetable. ► Please note that VRN-tickets are not valid in the Bergbahn. Instead your jobticket IS valid! The regular return ticket for two adults and one child e.g. is 18,- EUR.

Public transport homepage
To plan your trip individually, we recommend using the tools on the VRN webpages.

Final comment

We are aware that when you are new in Heidelberg, perhaps from a different country and different culture, you may have many questions that may not be answered by this 'manual' of the ZAH. Please feel free to contact your local secretaries with these questions and/or ask for help. Our ZAH science manager (Dr. Guido Thimm) is also very happy to answer any questions you may have. 

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