Saturday, April 30, 2011

Victor Ambartsumyan's legacy and my trip to Byurakan Observatory

I have already told about my passion for astronomy in my blog more than 2 years ago. This April 16 has been a very remarkable day for me. I had a tour in the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory. It was a press trip organized by the Armenian Astronomical Society (ArAS); a step for promoting science and journalists came for help :) [note: i'm not a journalist currently, but how could i resist not to go there, with the excuse that i work for a news organization... and am a blogger? :)]
here i'm actually outside (on the balcony) the biggest (2.6 m) telescope
The trip included several presentations about the Obeservatory and Victor Ambartsumyan, contemporary issues of astronomy, science journalism and more. They were held by Areg Mickaelian - the man who organized the trip (co-president of the ArAS) and Hayk Harutyunyan - the director of Byurakan Observatory.

We learnt some amazing facts (Gayane Mirzoyan has outlined some of them in her blog (Russian) about the observatory, the telescopes etc. Here's my pick:

  • When first installed in 1976, the 2.6m telescope was the 7th in the world, now it's 45th... 
  • Couple of years ago a small observatory was set up for educational purposes in Stepanakert, Artsakh Republic.
  • A number of international astronomic conferences were held in Armenia throughout these years, 
  • In 1964 and 1971 conferences on extraterrestrial civilizations were held in Byurakan Observatory. The meeting of 1971 was the first international symposium on the problem of Extraterrestrial Civilizations and Communication with Them.  Many prominent scientists, including astronomers, physicists, chemists, biologists, philosophers, and specialists of other related fields participated in the symposium.
  • Victor Ambartsumyan has been promoting Armenian language within the science academy institutions and in his will he even wrote that "everybody, regardless the percentage of Armenian genes in their blood, should study and master the Armenian language" (source in Armenian).
Areg Mickaelian, Leading Scientist and Head of research group at the  BAO
Hayk Harutyunyan, director of the BAO
There were also talks about astronomy and astrology (turns out even some journalists didn't know the difference!).. For those who don't know me well -- I absolutely hate everything connected with astrology and get frustrated to hear people confusing it with astronomy! 

Here are some pics from the Ambartsumyan's worplace: 

Victor Ambartsumyan's desk

the amazing portrait by my former colleague William
After the presentations we had a tour in Ambartsumyan's house, which is now a museum. Then we went to see the pride of the observatory - the 2.6m telescope. I've been there couple of times by night and never seen it in the daylight. Turns out it was possible to get out to the balcony.
2.6m telescope. pride of the observatory

here is it - the largest telescope of the observatory
the control panel of the telescope
me and Gayane, to whom I am grateful for learning about the press tour

the group of the press tour
This week I watched The Contact again. I have almost forgotten how I loved that movie. And the next day I read in the news that SETI suspends its search for alien life :(

.. and I just finished translating the first Armenian TED speaker - Garik Israelian's talk about the spectroscopy and search for extraterrestrial life. Soon the Armenian subtitles will be published here. Here's the talk:


Lord Archimonde said...

"SETI suspends its search for alien life :("

Arpin jan indz tvum a arden gtel en ... u et patcharov el dadarecrel en :)

Anonymous said...

Ambartsumyan legacy is also present through the (controversial) prize that was created in his memory a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

By sheer curiosity I went to see who won 2010 Ambartsumyan Prize, and Gagik Israelian is part of the winning team!

I discover that TED talk thanks to you!

Another Armenian TED speaker (taht I know of) is rafi Haladjian, he insists that we write rafi (don't know why as if capital letters did not exist in Armenian)