Kazan Federal University’s Engelhardt Astronomical Observatory has been in operation for 115 years. In addition to scientific work, the observatory also offers tours for anyone with an interest in astronomy.
Such an excursion was organised for today, 17 August, for guests at IOI 2016. The first thing they were shown was the memorial plaque bearing the names of Kazan’s famous astronomers, who in their turn have given their names to craters on the moon, comets and asteroids.
Guests were then shown around the historical part of the observatory, with telescopes, historical documents, and old photographs documenting significant events in astronomy to have taken place in Kazan, as well as the people involved. The observatory is also home to a refractor telescope which a 16-inch diameter lens, making it the largest operational telescope of its kind in Russia. Designed for photographic observation of celestial bodies, it over 100 years old but still works perfectly.
Those present were told about Vasily Engelhardt (1828-1915), thanks to whom the observatory opened its doors to the scientific community in 1901.
The tour continued with a visit to the university’s Planetarium, which opened in 2013. Equipped with the latest technology, it houses a complex system of projectors and dome-shaped screens capable of creating a three-dimensional image, and allows visitors to take a virtual journey to the distant corners of the Solar System. Here you could observe the dark side of the Moon, fly to Saturn’s rings, walk on Mars, even leave the Milky Way behind and see a multitude of other galaxies, witness new stars being born and even the Big Bang that started it all.
Our guests were visibly impressed when we spoke to them afterwards. Helen Krig (Australia), Shmuel Adar (Israel) and Inggriani Liem (Indonesia) shared their thoughts on what they had seen.
Helen Krig: It was fantastic! The observatory itself is situated in a lovely area – trees, fresh air, peace and quiet. At the same time scientific work has been conducted here for a very long time, and had led to a lot of valuable results. I really liked the Planetarium – you can learn about astronomy here from childhood.
Shmuel Adar: I really liked how the observatory values its history – treasuring the memory of its famous scientists by saving their old equipment and documents. But it’s not just a museum – scientific work still goes on here. And the Planetarium is very nice – it gives a clear picture of what’s happening out in space.
Inggriani Liem: I’m simply amazed! A careful, loving attitude to history sits side by side with modern research. The Planetarium was delightful – excellent facilities, colourful films full of useful and educational information to help better understand the world… I’m delighted with everything I’ve seen!