Skinakas Observatory turns 35!

Sunrise at Skinakas Announcement Date : 

On April 12, 1986, members of the academic community of the University of Crete and the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), along with government representatives, officials and a large crowd 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 operation of its first telescope, with a mirror with a diameter of 30 cm.

The enthusiasm was great, as the academic ecosystem of FORTH and the University of Crete became the first in Greece to acquire a research observatory where it could educate its students 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.

Today, Monday, April 12, 2021, we celebrate the successful 35 years of operations of the Skinakas Observatory and we look forward to the new perspectives that open before us!

Over the past 35 years, the Skinakas Observatory has acquired a larger telescope with a diameter of 1.3m. as well as a plethora of state-of-the-art research instruments, which, combined with its exceptional human resources, have established it as the most productive observatory in our country: observations by Skinakas have so far resulted in 247 papers in peer-reviewed journals which have received over 6000 citations. Dozens of students from the University of Crete, and not only, have been trained at its facilities, while 15 doctoral dissertations have been prepared using data from its telescopes. Also, every summer on the established open nights, hundreds of visitors have the unique opportunity to admire the magnificent night sky from an altitude of 1750m. and observe stars and nebulae, which are thousands of light years away.

The establishment by the State of the Institute of Astrophysics of FORTH, three years ago, has given a new momentum to the Observatory. With the support of the University of Crete, FORTH, the Municipality of Anogia and the Region of Crete, in the next two years, its facilities will be upgraded dramatically. Construction on improving the road access to the Observatory and a new telescope dome has already begun, and it is planned to acquire a larger telescope as well as to create a new multi-space building to receive visitors and organize events.

Moreover, Skinakas Observatory, in addition to the educational and research role it already performs with great success, is expected to launch a third activity, that of providing services to the State and individuals. The new possibilities made possible via its participation in projects relying on optical connection of lasers with telecommunication satellites, as well as monitoring and security of other space assets in orbit around the Earth, create new tangible opportunities for the society and the economy of Crete, as well as  of our country in general.

The Skinakas Observatory was created as a joint research infrastructure of the University of Crete, FORTH and the MaxPlanck Institute in Germany. The pioneers, to whose vision and support we owe the creation of the Skinakas Observatory, were Professor and First Director of the Observatory Giannis Papamastorakis, the Director of the MaxPlanck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics Prof. Professor Gerhard Haerendel, the President of the Univ. of Crete Professor Grigoris Sfakis and Professor and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of FORTH, Professor Eleftherios Oikonomou.

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