SHAMAKHY ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY OF THE AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Azerbaijan has an astronomical glory thanks to the presence of the famous Maragha Observatory in the South Azerbaijan established in XIII century by Middle Ages Azerbaijani astronomer Nasiraddin Tusi. A new remarkable stage in the development of the national astronomy started in XX century. In 1953 in Azerbaijan there began to operate permanent astronomical expedition. This expedition inspected several districts of Azerbaijan, including Shamakhy, and has given a conclusion (June, 1953) about final selection of the Pirgulu site for building of an Observatory. Activities on elaboration of the projects on creation of the observatory were carried out at first in the Institute of Physics and Mathematics by organization of the Department of astrophysics with the status of research institute under the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR (July, 1956), and at last, authorization of organization of the Observatory on the basis of Sector of Astrophysics and its astronomical Station near the Pirgulu Mountain (November, 1959). Construction of the Observatory began at the end of 1958. At present there is a named after academician Yu. Mammadaliyev and has offices, apartments cottages, school, kindergarten, hotel for guests, canteen, postal office, market, garages, necessary technical devices, etc.
New remarkable stage in the modern history of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory (hereinafter ShAO) of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (hereinafter ANAS) started when the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan His Excellency Ilham Aliyev has issued 2 orders on 5 September 2008 and 21 July 2009, consequently, on start and construction of the improvement of material and technical base, capital repair and reconstruction works, as wells strengthening of logistics of the ShAO. Under these orders, 5 million Azerbaijani mantas and later on,3 million Azerbaijani mantas have been allocated from the Reserve Fund of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to ensure complete overhaul of ShAO in line with modern standards, supply it with necessary equipment.
The President also charged “Azerenerji” OSC, “Azerigaz” OSC to take necessary complex of measures to supply electricity , gas and water to the Observatory ,the Ministry of Commutations and Information Texnologies – to provide installation of telephones and high-speed internet, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources -to, jointly with Shamakhy Executive Power and Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, preserve landscape. After completing reconstruction works ShAO will be one of powerful and significant observatories in the region.
ShAO is named after Nasiraddin Tusi (September ,1981). The official date of faundationof ShAO is 13 January 1960. There are 11 Azerbaijani –related names in the sky and one of these objects – the minor planet (asteroid) – is named after the ShAO
In 2002 on the baser of former Batabat Division and Aghdara Astronomical Station of ShAO there was organized an independent Batabat Astrophysical Observatory within Naxchivan Branch of the exclave part of the Azerbaijan.
ShAO is located at the South Caucasus on the eastern-southern of the Great Caucasus Mountain Range (nouthern- eastern slope of Pirgulu Mountain, altitude 1500m,geographical coordinates : 48 deg 35`04”E/ 40 deg 46`20N”) , not far from Baku (about 150 km), recently repaired asphalt road.
Number of clear days and nights varies between 150-180. At least 40% of days are the ones with best quality of astrophysical images (1”-2”). The best months for astronomical observation are December,January,July and August during which the number of clear days is maximum. Solar observation carried out in ShAO allow filling the existing in other observation sites gap in winter months.Best time for solar observations is the early morning when the quality of solar image is better than 1 during 2-3 hours.
There are about 150 employees at the Observatory : about 55 of them are scientific workers and 8 engineers, including 4 doctors and 23 candidates of physical and mathematical sciences. Two employees are Correspondent Members of ANAS. One employee has recently been awarded a State Medal Triage (Progges) for contribution in development science in Azerbaijan.
There are following structural units in the Observatory; Baku City Branch of ShAO; Dept of “Spectroscopy of Celectial Bodies” ; Dept of “Photometry and Polarimetry of Celectial Bodies” ; Dept of “Solar Physics” ; Dept of “Physics of Solar – Terrestrial Relations” ; Dept of “ Plants and Small Celestial Bodies” ; Dept of “ Tecnical Support of Observations” and auxiliary “ Cordination and Organizing” Dept. There are also scientific library, relevant administrative-managing departments construction studio etc.in the Observatory
ShAO has made a significant contribution the extensive exsoviet and post-soviet scientific programs in the fields of astrophysics and fundamental astronomy. There are three main scientific trends at the Observatory : physics of stars, investigation of the solar system bodies and solar physics. In Observatory there are carried out investigations in the following fields as well: physics of solar –terrestrial relations and space weather effect ` study , history of astronomy, theroretical astrophysics, cosmology, helioseismology, radioastronomy,practical astronomy , celestial mechanics, galaxies, dynamics of artificial satellites, etc. Last years the new direction on development and construction of astronomical devices, such as Echelle spectrograps, used for investigation of celestial objects, is growing successfully.
Ph.D. courses provided in ShAO are part of strtegic development of astronomy and young astronomers in Azerbaijan. ShAO contributes significantly in the popularization and teaching of astronomical space science knowledge in the Azerbaijan.
Scientific ournal “Circular of ShAO” ( ISNN: 0135-0420) was founded in 1970 and was published regularly until 2006.Articles and short notes devoted to the actual problems of modern astronomy and related disciplines were published in this Journal in Russian, English and Azerbaijan. On 28 April 2006 ”Azerbaijani Astonomical Journal” (ISSN : 2078-4163 (Print) , 2078-4171 ( online)) of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciencer was founded by the initiative of the ShAO and its publication on a peer rewieved basis was organized in ShAO (www.shao.az/www.AAJ) . ”Sun and Geosphere ”-the International Journal of Research and Applications(http://www.shao.az/SG/) (ISSN: 1819-0839) was founded in 8 June 2005 by the Balkan , Black Sea and Caspian Sea Regional Network on Space Weather Studies , peer-reviewed and published in ShAO . tens of books and monographs were published by employees of ShAO during 50 years .
ShAO cooperated with many astronomical and other institutions and organizations from Russia , Ukraine, Georgia , Turkey, The Netherlands, France, USA ,Germany, Bulgaria , Czech Republic, Israil , etc. Employees of ShAO are members of the International Astronomical Union, the European Astronomical Society, the Euro-Asian Astronomical Society, the Joint Organization for Solar Observations, and the Council Scientific Development/ The International Academy of Science ”Health and Ecology”,so on. ShAO is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). ShAOparticipates in different programs initiated by the United Nations Basic Space Science Initiative (UNBSSI) , such as The International Heliophysical Year (IHY), The International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI). ShAO was one of active participants of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA)-2009. ShAO is one of founding members of the Balkan , Black Sea Caspian Sea Regional Network Space Weather Studies.
Within 1957 -1989 there were held about 25domestic, regional and international conferences , as well as other scientific meetings , symposia etc. In ShAO . In 1998 there was organized the ”Tusi - 800” Majlis (School) in the ShAO. The main aims of this School were complex investiagtion of Tusi`s scientific activity and coordination of astronomicall investigations conducted in Azerbaijan and in the near region. Within 1998-2001 years 5 domestic , 2 regional and 1 international UNESCO (”Nasiraddin Tusi and modern astronomy”) scientipic conferences of the ”Tusi - 800” School were held.
Within last on years there were held several high level conferences and UNESCO Turkic States Space Generation Form (11-14 May 2003) in ShAO and /or with participation of ShAO. There were also organized several Summer Astronomical Schools and Young Scientists Regional Conference on Astronomy and Space Physics in ShAO during the last decade.
ShAO is the initiator and one of founders of the regular weekl Baku City Astronomical Seminar functioning in Baku City Branch of ShAO for more than 5 years.
Azerbaijani Astronomical Society (AAS) has been re-established in 2009 by the initiative of ShAO. Now ShAO is the biggest founder and major courdinator of all activities of the AAS. AAS and ShAO has played a significant role in selebration of International Year of Astronomy -2009 , being main organizers of 2 regional conferences in May (Maragha) and October (Nakhchivan) 2009.