GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHAMAKHY ASTROPHYSICS OBSERVATORY
“The Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory has a great history. It enjoys a great reputation worldwide, in the academic community. The reconstruction of this observatory and the creation of excellent conditions here are very gratifying indeed.
…I am sure that the observatory will serve the people of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani science for many years and decades to come”.
The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory named after Nasreddin Tusi of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences was established in 1960 by the decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. But the history of scientific researches in the field of astrophysics in our republic goes back to previous years. A permanently operating astronomical expedition was created to explore astrological climate in some regions of Azerbaijan in 1927. The expedition had to choose the favorable geographical location for the observatory in Kalbajar, Lachin, Shamakhy, Khizi and other regions of the republic. As a result of the investigations, the Pirgulu region of Shamakhy is the most favorable place for establishing a scientific center in this direction and in 1953, it was decided to build an observation base and later an observatory. The center is a part of the Institute of Physics and Mathematics of the ANA as the Astrophysics Department (1954), later as the Astrophysics Sector of the ANA (1956). In addition to astronomical observations in 1953-59, serious work is underway on design of future of observatory, training of specialists on astronomy, telescope and equipment supply, structure of the observatory etc. In 1957, the telescope was installed at the Pirgulu Astronomical Station (Xromosfer-Fotosfer Solar Telescope), and in 1959, the study of astrological climate has been solved by launching in 200-mm photoelectric telescope.
The center was incorporated into the structure of ANA as an independent scientific-research institute in 1960. An observatory created on the initiative of well-known Azerbaijani scientists Hasan Aliyev and Yusif Mammadaliyev is located in the north-east of the Great Caucasus Mountains, 150 km from Baku in the South Caucasus (On the eastern slope of the Pirgulu mountain, height 1500 m, geographical coordinates 480 35` 04" E / 400 46` 20" N). Here, the number of clear nights reaches 190-200 per year.
The first director of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory was academician Hajibay Sultanov (1960-1981). Academician has great services in the creation and development of observatory.
2-meter telescope (produced by Carl Seyss of the German Democratic Republic), which was commissioned in September 1966, is of particular importance in the supply of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory. Ex-President, academician Yusif Mammadaliyev and Vice-President of the Academy, national poet Samad Vurgun played a special role in the acquisition and operational construction of the popular optical telescope, the flag of Azerbaijan’s experimental science. In addition, the Observatory has commissioned a Horizontal Solar Telescope (1962), AST-452 Telecope (1964), AZT-8 Telescope (1970), Seyss-600 telescope in various years.
Astrophysical observations were organized instinctively in Shamakhy Observatory in 1960-1980. In those years, great attention was paid to the preparation of specialists in the field of astrophysics. For this purpose, in 1976 at the special order of national leader Heydar Aliyev, the Astrophysics department was established at the Azerbaijan State University. In 1981, by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, Shamakhy Asrtophysical Observatory was named after the genius astronomer Nasreddin Tusi, the Batabat Section of the SHAO (1973) and the Agdere Astronomical Station (1997) (Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic) were established under the Observatory. It should be noted that the situation has been operating as an independent observatory within the Nakhchivan branch of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences since 2002.
The Shamkhy Astrophysics Observatory’s Baku City Division (BCD) plays an important role in the coordination of the activity of the observatory and other relationships with the ANAS. The Astronomy Museum also operates in the Observatory. The museum plays an important role in promoting the observatory and its astronomy.
For achievements in the development of astronomy in Azerbaijan , the International Astronomical Union has named the newly discovered asteroids “Azerbaijan”, “SHAO“, “Nizami”, “Javid”, “Muslim Magomayev”, “Tusi”, “Ayyubguliev”. On a Mercuri planet, a crater was named “Nizami”, on Mars, the crater was named “Nadir Ibrahimov”, a late employee of the SHAO and a crater was named “Nasreddin Tusi” on the Moon planet. At present, 13 of the names given to small celestial bodies, as well as to the crater of planets, are related to Azerbaijan. All this, undoubtedly, is an indication of the success of astronomy in Azerbaijan.
Reconstruction work was carried out in Shamakhy Astronomical Observatory named after Nasraddin Tusi in 2009-2013 on the basis of relevant orders of President Ilham Aliyev. As a result of the attention and care shown by Mr.President to the Azerbaijan science, the living room of the Observatory was completely renovated (a new astronomy museum, a large conference hall, etc.), the new laboratory building was constructed and telescopes were renovated, a number of auxiliary facilities (dining room, boiler-room, substation, etc.) were commissioned and large-scale renovation works were carried out. New communication lines (gas, water, electricity, telephony, etc.) that meet modern standards have been created and the 2-meter telescope is fully automated and modernized.
Vacuum unit B-240 for alimony of astronomical mirrors surface was restored in 2007. A special building was built and put into operation for vacuum installations. For the first time in the history of the SHAO in 2013, the process of aluminum alignment of mirrors was carried out by local specialists. The existence of this unique device allows the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory not only to open its mirrors but also to align the aluminum layer on a regular basis in the mirrors of the regional observatories.
Scientific research in the Observatory is based on two major problems, namely “Dynamics and physics of celestial bodies”: “Comprehensive investigations of physical changes in stars and nebulas” (application of non-stationary processes in their bodies and their application) and “Solar Physics, physics and dynamics of bodies of Solar system” (Dynamics and physics of active structures in Solar atmosphere, Solar-Earth relations, explorations of planet atmospheres and their satellites, comet, asteroid, Solar System physics, their structure, physics and evolution). Besides, researches are being conducted on the problems such as the history of astronomy, theoretical studies, radio astronomy, ionosphere synthesis of high-frequency radio signals and their dependents on various cosmic air factors (solar activity, magnetic storms, etc.).
More than 100 monographs, textbooks, catalogs, scientific-mass books on astronomy were published during the activity of the observatory. 120 volumes of the magazine “the Circular of the SHAO” which has 40 years history have been published. Since 2006 “Azerbaijan Astronomy Magazine” has been published. Along with this, the Observatory is also closely involved in the publication of the international “Sun and Geosphere” magazine published in English. Over the course of the existence of the SHAO , its staff published over 2500 articles in foreign and local magazines.
Scientists and specialists trained at the Shamakhy Astrophysics Observatory successfully continue their activities in many scientific institutions of the world, including USA, Israel, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.
A number of international and republican symposiums and conferences were held in Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory. Among them congresses of the International Astronautics Federation (1972), conferences on magnetic stars (1973-1976), Plenum of the Astronomical Council (1984), “Tusi-800” Conferences (eight conferences during 1998-2002), “Circumcision and Cosmological Problems” (2003), “International Conference dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Foundation of the SHAO” and others can be shown.
During the activity of the SHAO , the observatory staff worked with foreign astronomers on a number of topical issues. The observatory staff cooperate with individual astronomical organizations in the countries Russia, German, Israel, Bulgaria, Georgia and others on Solar Physics and Solar-Earth problems. Researches are carried out jointly with the stuff of several Russian observatory on the direction of astrophysics ( State Astronomical Institute named after Shtenberg of Moscow State University, St.Petersburg State University ). Teamwork is carried out with astronomers in the countries Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan and others on the study of comets and meteorites.
SHAO’s employees actively participate in congresses, symposiums and conferences held in foreign countries and inform world astronomers about the work done in the observatory.