Saturday, October 3, 2009

Public Observatory and Planetarium in Belgrade

By Jelica Tapuskovic

Belgrade, Sept. 21, 2009 ( Serbia Today) - In this International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) Public Observatory and planetarium celebrate 45 years from establishment. Those two institutions were established by Astronomical Society „Rudjer Boskovic“ ( , which is one of the oldest societies for popularizing science on Balkan peninsula.
Astronomical society was established in 1934, and from the very first beginning it has an aim to make astronomy a popular science. During the Second World War Germans prohibited Society to work. It started to work again in 1950, when it began its own magazine “Cosmos”, as well as their public work.
Now, Society organizes different courses, like Course for beginners in 23 lessons, and many lectures about celestial orbs, cosmos, stars, etc.
„Main intent of Society is to inform public about current cosmic happenings, celestial orbs and phenomena, and to make Universe closer to people. Also, we are trying to explain ways and results of research of cosmos, to emphasize its importance and beauty, to make realistic and scientific view of the world, which is very important“, said for Serbia Today Natasa Stanic, Science educator at Public Observatory and Planetarium and Vice President of IYA2009 National Node Serbia.
In 1964 Society established Observatory, located in adapted Despot’s tower, on Kalemegdan. That tower has historical connotation, City hall didn’t allow the installation of a dome above the terrace, where the telescope is. That terrace is on the fifth floor, and is one of the most beautiful observation decks in Belgrade. It has a telescope – refractor Zeiss 110/2000, and telescope – reflector TAL 200k (200/2000).
In the Observatory it is possible to have practical education about Universe on Friday and Saturday, and any other day when something is happening on the sky. Everyone who wants can see phases and craters of the Moon, planets Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, dual stars, clusters of stars, eclipses, etc. during the day it is possible to watch a panorama of Belgrade.
Planetarium is in an ex-Turkish bath – Amam, in the lower part of Kalemegdan Fortress, below Saint Petka church. It is established in 1969, and it officially started its working one year later. As Natasa Stanic said, building was specially adapted for projector Carl Zeiss ZKP 1, which has projection display with a semi spherical shape, unique in the world. Planetarium has 80 chairs, and usually is visited by school groups.
„Planetarium is a place where it is possible to simulate a picture of sky full with stars, its movement, changes. It is also possible to, contingent upon of geographical coordinates during the year, to define position of celestial orbs, constellations, and to orientate in space”, said Natasa Stanic.
From May 1st till November there are organize planetarium and video projections for all citizens. One of most popular documentary movies is film, made by NASA and with the best instrument – space telescope Hubble. The movie “Path through Cosmos with space telescope Hubble” shows a history of the Universe, since Big bang till today. It shows birth of the first galaxy, first star and most mysterious events made by star explosions.
Besides, the visitors can see in the Planetarium a projection of simulations of a sky full with stars, or sky above the Arctic and Equator, Earth rotation, and how to find the most important stars in the sky – Sirius, Alfa Centauri and Pole star.
Planetarium also organizes lectures, and till the end of the year it is possible to hear lectures about sky sphere and constellations, earth rotation, moon and planets movements. Natasa Stanic underlined that Planetarium, which is also member of International astronomy Union, got from that organization 100 telescopes which will be distributed to many towns in Serbia – to schools with best program of astronomy, to amateur astronomy societies and to winners of art and literal competition organized within international project “Awareness of Universe”.
„We are planning to buy new video system – star cinema with 3D program, which will be visited by all citizens of Serbia. New video system, known to all big cities in Europe, would have a share in regeneration of cultural-scientific interest in the region, and in popularization of astrology, with its attractive pictures and animations”, said Natasa Stanic.
Public Observatory and Planetarium, have about 30 000 visitors a year. They also cooperate with many similar organizations in Serbia and abroad.

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