The Skinakas Observatory is turning 35 years old! | News



The Skinakas Observatory is turning 35 years old!

On April 12, 1986, members of the academic community of the University of Crete and FORTH, along with government representatives, officials and many people from all over Crete, met at a peak of Psiloritis, 20 km from the historic Municipality of Anogia, to celebrate a unique event: the inauguration of the Skinakas Observatory and the formal commencement of operation of its first telescope, with a 30cm diameter mirror.

There was a great enthusiasm, as the academic ecosystem of FORTH and the University of Crete became the first in Greece to establish a research observatory to support student learning, in the best possible way. The new telescope also gave visitors the opportunity to observe Halley's comet, which, faithful to its rendezvous with Earth, was becoming visible again, after 76 years.

On Monday, April 12, 2021, we celebrated the successful 35-year course of the Skinakas Observatory and we look forward to new emerging prospects!

In the past 35 years, the Observatory acquired a larger telescope with a 1.3m diameter mirror, as well as, many state-of-the-art research instruments. Due to its equipment and exceptional personnel, Skinakas Observatory is the most productive observatory in our country, having produced 247 papers in peer-reviewed journals which have received 6000 citations so far. Dozens of students have been trained at its facilities, while 15 doctoral dissertations have been prepared using data from its telescopes. Moreover, every summer during the “Open Nights” events, hundreds of visitors have the unique opportunity to admire the magnificent night sky from an altitude of 1750m and observe stars and nebulae, thousands of light-years away through the eyepiece of the telescopes.

The establishment of the Institute of Astrophysics of FORTH, three years ago, gave a new impetus to the Observatory. With the support of the University of Crete, FORTH, the Municipality of Anogia and of the Region of Crete, its facilities will be dramatically upgraded over the next two years. Construction works for easier access to the observatory and for a new dome have already begun; it is also planned to acquire a larger telescope and to have a multi-functional building to host visitors and events.

In the near future, the Skinakas Observatory is also expected to provide services to the State and private sector: its involvement in satellite laser communications create new tangible opportunities for the economy of Crete and Greece.

The Skinakas Observatory was created as a joint research infrastructure of the University of Crete, FORTH and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Germany. The Skinakas Observatory was established thanks to: Professor Giannis Papamastorakis who served as its First Director, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Haerendel, former Director of the MPE, Prof. Gregory Sifakis, former Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the University of Crete and Professor Eleftherios Economou, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of FORTH.

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