8 things you did not know about the Byurakan Observatory

by Dalita Khoury


1. It is located on the southern slope of Mt. Aragats – one of the country’s highest locations

The observatory is located 1500 meters above sea level near the Armenian village of Byurakan. On a clear day, you can also get an amazing view of Mt. Ararat from across the city while driving up the mountain to the observatory.

2. The observatory was founded by Victor Hambartsumian – a Soviet Armenian scientist

Hambartsumian was the longest serving president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and also served as president of the International Astronomical Union. He made multiple important discoveries during his time at Byurakan and is even one of the founders of theoretical astrophysics. He died at Byurakan in 1996, and you can find his grave under the Grand Telescope Tower.

3. The campus was designed by famous Armenian architect Samvel Safarian

Samvel Safarian was an honored architect of the USSR. He was responsible for multiple projects built in Yerevan, including the second government house in Republic Square.

4. For many years it housed the largest telescopes in all the USSR

In 1960 they installed a Schmidt telescope with a 40-inch correcting plate and 52-inch mirror (if you don’t know what all that means- it’s ok, neither do I). It’s still one of the largest telescopes in the world today!

5. They discovered stellar associations

Stellar associations were discovered by Hambartsumian at the Byurakan observatory in 1947. Stellar associations are large clusters or groupings of young, recently formed stars. Interestingly, they were named “astghaspyur” then consequently translated into Russian, and English.

6. The first Soviet-American conference on communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence took place here

It happened in 1971 and gathered together some of the most renowned scientists of the time from around the world. Topics of discussion included but are not limited to: the origin of intellectual life, the possibility of other galaxies and planets, and the process of finding signals of extraterrestrial life and communicating with them.

7. The grounds of the Byurakan Observatory are vast and beautifully maintained.

You can book a guided tour of Byurakan and the grounds and even do a star tour in the evening. The sky is dark and clear out there so it’s perfect for stargazing!

8. HAYP Pop Up Gallery is hosting the Ceti Lab exhibit at Byurakan and the Herouni Radio-Optic Telescope until September 27th!

Now you have a reason to visit! “CETI Lab: HAYP at BAO” is a multi-location collective exhibit that invites artists and scientists to imagine communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence. Come see what happens when you mix art with science! Tomorrow (September 27, 2017) is our last day so don’t miss out!

Check out our “Practical Info” page for details.

Sources:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/byurakan-observatory

https://www.aras.am/BAO/BAO.html

https://www.bao.am/

http://vaprize.sci.am/bio.html

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