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Yuri Gagarin Public Astronomical Observatory, Stara Zagora

6000 Stara Zagora
62, Tzar Ivan Shishman str.
Tel: 042/64-31-83 and 042/5-81-98
Fax: 042/64-31-83
e-mail: aogagarin@mbox.digsys.bg
Web Site: www.aogagarin.com

PAO "Yuri Gagarin"

The first public astronomical observatory in Bulgaria was founded in 1961 in Stara Zagora, and oficially opened on February 26, 1961. In 1974 part of the stuff, material base and the budget were transferred to the newly established academic institution �Central Laboratory for Space Research� at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS). Today this base is part of the Central Solar-Terrestrial Influences Laboratory at the BAS - Stara Zagora department.

The School for Astronomy for preparation of amateur astronomers and observers of Earth�s artificial satellites (EAS), and Station 1102 � for observations of EAS, were established within the frames of the Observatory�s main operation in 1961. On November 3 1978 another activity was added to the Observatory�s main agenda: the Planetarium, made in the Karl Zeiss factories in Yena.

The activities of the Public Astronomical Observatory (PAO) develop in three main directions: education, scientific popularization and research in the field of astronomy, astrophysics and space sciences.

The education takes place within the frames of the School of Astronomy. The topics discussed are: the Sun and solar activity, the planets of the Solar system, the Moon, meteors, variable stars, observations of rare astronomical occurrences, archaeo-astronomy, problem solving in astronomy.

The following activities were carried out hosts lectures and observations in PAO for students in astronomy, physics, geography, chemistry, biology and space sciences, thus adding to the expertise in these areas of human knowledge which they, the students, receive in school.

The popularization of scientific knowledge in astronomy, astrophysics, space sciences and the achievements of contemporary cosmonautics is being done in especially equipped halls and offices with the help of multimedia systems, products, and real-life observations of the sky and of the objects from the near and far Cosmos. These observations are being done via telescopes and observant technology.

The research in PAO covers four scientific areas:

  • exploration of solar activity, physics of the solar-terrestrial influences.
  • observations of rare astronomical phenomenons: solar and moon eclipses, planets tranzit, occultation.
  • meteor observations;
  • archaeoastronomical research of rock-cut monuments.

The Observatory owns an out-of-town Observation base on the Mineral spring baths in Stara Zagora. A clear and dark sky is mandatory for the proper executions of the observations. Thus, the larger part of the observations are executed there, or elsewhere in the country during specially organized summer camps/schools.

A total of six people, including three specialists, work in PAO, Stara Zagora. An average of 120 students from the Stara Zagora schools is being educated annually in the School of Astronomy. Roughly 25 000 people visit the Observatory�s classrooms and observational grounds every year.

Central Solar-Terrestrial Influences Laboratory �acad. Dimitar Mishev� (STIL)
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Stara Zagora Department, www.stil.bas.bg.
 STIL - BAS Stara Zagora

The Stara Zagora department of STIL - BAS is founded on the grounds of the first Bulgarian Public Astronomical Observatory established in the town in 1961. It has a great experience in the field of spectrometry and photometry. Atmospheric investigations by optical methods are its basic specialization. Scientific apparatuses are developed and studies are carried out on a number of international projects in cooperation with scientific institutes from Russia, France, USA, Canada, Czech, Poland, India etc. A total of 14 devices, created in Stara Zagora, flew in cosmic space and worked successfully: on the rockets �Vertical� and �Centaurus-2�, on the satellites Intercosmos-19, Intercosmos �Bulgaria-1300�, on the orbital stations �Salut� and �Mir�, on the interplanetary stations for Halley comet investigations �Vega� 1 and 2, on the satellites �Activen�, �Apex�, �Interball�, at the orbital flights of the Bulgarian cosmonauts � Georgi Ivanov in 1979 and Alexander Alexandrov in 1988.

Nowadays, the scientific personnel of the Department works on international projects in collaboration with Canada (York University, Toronto), Italy (Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Bologna), Norwey (ALOMAR Observatory) and Russia (Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Irkutsk) related to investigations of the interactions in the system Sun � Solar wind � magnetosphere � ionosphere � atmosphere, atmosphere dynamics and trace gases content.

The Stara Zagora Depatrment of STIL � BAS is equipped with 200/3000 mm Zeiss telescope refractor, Spectral Airglow Temperature Imager (SATI) for the night glow of molecular oxygen O2 (8680.5 Å), Zenith Tilting photometer for the night glows of atomic oxygen � (5577 Å � 6300 Å) and hydroxyl ��(8-3), UV-spectrophotometer for the observation of the total ozone content, Gascode-BG instrument, for trace gas measurements, and Video-spectrometric system for measurements of the direct solar radiation.

Scientific results are presented at a number of scientific International symposia and published in specialized scientific journals such as Nature, Adv. in Space Research, Acta Astronautica, Planetary and Space Science, etc.

The permanent staff of STIL-BAS, Stara Zagora Department is 33 people, including 13 scientists, 6 with PhD.