“Young people think astronomy is to go with a girl under the stars!”

Where can you meet real fans of astronomy in Krasnoyarsk today? How do you see the sides of the moon on a moonless night? What more has not yet been discovered by world astronomers? Sergei Alexandrovich Veselkov, head of the Education Observatory at Reshetnev University, talks about science with a great past and a great future.

Astronomy and physics are the same thing

– Sergey Alexandrovich, how did you get into astronomy? Tell us about yourself.

– Like many astronomers, my passion for astronomy began in childhood. I was then 13 years old. I walked down the street in the evening and accidentally looked at the sky, and something fell on me, something divine, I guess. I saw many stars (at that time there was much less light in Krasnoyarsk) and became interested in astronomy. The only one in our garden, it just affected me. I did not do so well in school, especially in physics. I did not understand then that astronomy and physics are one and the same. After 8th grade, I entered Polytechnic College (on Matrosova Street) and graduated with honors. And it’s all thanks to astronomy! It made sense to study. I became a woodworking technologist, but I wanted to become an astronomer or a physicist studying space. Therefore, after serving in the army, I entered Krasnoyarsk State University at the Department of Space Physics, from which I graduated in 1989.

During my studies at the university, my interests have changed somewhat. I became interested in astronomical optics – telescopes and defended my dissertation in this direction. Since then, telescopes have attracted me more than astronomy itself. I have two patents for optical systems. Now I am the head of the education observatory at Reshetnev University and combine my studies in astronomy and astronomical optics.

– In what form is astronomy at the university – is it a special subject, an optional, a laboratory?

“Starry night”

– Astronomy is a subject for students at the Institute for Space Research and High Technology (SEC IKIVT), the Department of Space Tools and Technologies (CST) and technical physics. In the classroom, students take a general course in astronomy, perform laboratory work and help complete our famous “Starry Evenings”. We also touch on space technology, as there are space telescopes and in general the solar system is now being studied with the help of astronautics.

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Observations of the Sun at the Reshetnev University Observatory

Here is an excerpt from the federal state education standard for higher vocational education for the preparation of candidates in the direction of “Geodesy and remote sensing”: “The subject of the doctoral student’s professional activity is the earth’s surface, other planets and their satellites; the surface and inside the earth and other planets, as well as space close to the earth; geodynamic phenomena and processes; gravitational fields, electromagnetic and other physical fields. to use these laws to solve geodesy problems.But this knowledge is provided by astronomy, therefore these sciences are related.

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Classes in astronomy in the group BGD14-01 department KST.

Bring knowledge to the masses!

– Tell about the university’s observatory. For what purpose was it created, what tasks does it solve today? And where are the nearest universities in other regions?

– The observatory at our university was established on the orders of Rector No. 76 on January 26, 2009 to develop scientific and pedagogical programs in the field of space research and astronomical observations at the university. We built it on our own.

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The construction process of the pavilion for the telescope

At the time, we thought we would do science. But this requires a suburban observatory, and we even tried to create it in the Mansky district near the village of Stepnoy Badzhey, but it did not work. Therefore, the direction of the observatory has now changed. Because we are located in a city as large as Krasnoyarsk, with a large lighting, it is problematic to solve any scientific problems. Therefore, according to the “Rules of the Observatory”, which describes the tasks and functions facing the Observatory, its employees are obliged to participate in excursions and lectures for school children, applicants, guests of the university, residents of Krasnoyarsk, in conducting classes, practical and laboratory work for students of specialties, which I mentioned above. In other words, to engage in the popularization of astronomy, our university and bring knowledge to the masses.

Our observatory is the only university observatory in the region that really works. The observatory is, first of all, people who get paid for it, and if not, then these are already amateurs who may or may not give a tour, as it is not their professional duties. For example, a similar situation in SFU.

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Opening of the observatory. Belyakov GP (then principal) answers guests’ questions. Everyone was particularly interested in the question of how much it all cost.

The nearest operational observatories at other universities are located in Irkutsk, Barnaul and Novosibirsk. I would not say that we cooperate with them, but we maintain relationships. This is okay. Now we are quite self-sufficient. But at the beginning of our journey, the key moment was the acquaintance with and the collaboration with the astronomers from SAI MSU and INASAN (Institute of Astronomy of the Academy of Sciences), which literally took over us. Cooperation with them continues to this day. A striking confirmation of this was the conclusion of a tripartite agreement between SAI MGU (State Astronomical Institute of Moscow State University), INASAN (Institute of Astronomy of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation) and the University on cooperation in the field of astronomy in December 2009.

And now, if the need arises, you can call almost any employee of these organizations and advise. It costs a lot! Very many of them visited us at the observatory.

We collaborate with other organizations in our city (KSPU, School of Cosmonautics, etc.), we hold an event as large as Krasnoyarsk Astronomical School – “KrASH”. We travel for three days far from the city and do astronomy in the beautiful dark sky.

Many people confuse astronomy with astrology.

– Is astronomy interesting for today’s youth? In your opinion, what astronomical knowledge is lacking in modern man?

Astronomy became interesting for many people in our country after the launch of the first satellite in 1957. Then everyone wanted to get involved in space to one degree or another. Now the interest has decreased significantly and so has the level of knowledge. I know from personal experience that when it is not interesting, no knowledge will come to mind. That is why career guidance is very important for universities. Now there are many “couch” astronomy lovers who are engaged in astronomy and looking at pictures on the Internet. They do not even realize how difficult it is to get these good pictures. What a set of knowledge you need to master for this! What is a photographic telescope? This includes the most accurate mechanics, optics, electronics and a computer with appropriate software. And then you have to be lucky with the weather and the observation point.

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Tenth “Krasnoyarsk Astronomical School”. Only foreign students from Reshetnev University participated.

Young people think that astronomy is a walk with a girl under the stars, but when it turns out that astronomy must be studied (this is the same physics) and even solve problems, then all interest quickly fades away, only the best who have become touched by something divine left. They are few, but they exist!

Since I have worked with school children and students for more than 13 years, I can say that the level of preparation (on average) is not very high. Many people confuse astronomy with astrology, a planetarium with an observatory. Astronomy in schools is performed according to the residual principle, with rare exceptions. There are school students with a very high level of education, at times there is a feeling that they understand this issue even better than I do. It’s amazing and so good! If only everyone were like that, how cool it would be to hold classes! There are such school children in some schools in Krasnoyarsk, in the “School of Cosmonautics” for example. So there are teachers who train these guys.

Probably everyone will agree that a person should develop harmoniously, and when a young person knows how to “take” triple integrals, but does not know how many stars there are in the solar system, I think this is already an exaggeration. This means that he did too much mathematics at the expense of other areas of knowledge.

Our students (because our university is a space university) must have some knowledge in astronomy. This is especially true of our solar system, as humans will begin to explore it in the near future. I mean industrial development. Yes, humanity is up to it.

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This summer’s participants in the Krasnoyarsk School of Astronomy are preparing telescopes for observations

What do you consider to be the greatest discovery in astronomy? On the threshold of what discovery do scientists stand today?

– The biggest discoveries today, in my opinion, are the experimental (from observations) discovery of black holes, gravitational waves and exoplanets. Large new telescopes are now under construction that will make it possible not only to discover extrasolar planets, but also to study the chemical composition of their atmospheres – if any. And this means that in the future, humanity will have the opportunity to settle in the galaxy on planets suitable for life.

– Thanks!


May 7 is World Astronomy Day. The start was given in 1973 in California. The president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California, D. Berger, decided that it is not worth upsetting people to travel long distances to visit the open days of famous observatories, instead you need to install affordable telescopes in cramped places – on the streets, in shopping malls , parks. Thus, all true lovers of astronomy were united, and the motto of the new astronomical movement was the words: “To bring astronomy to people.”


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