A Maritime Astronomical Observatory was opened at Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy in Varna. It is a new scientific research structure at the Centre for Air and Space Observations of the Academy. The Maritime Astronomical Observatory will conduct research of inner space objects – astronomical bodies (the Sun, the planets, comets, asteroids, meteoroids), variable stars, supernovae in nearby galaxies, artificial satellites and debris.
The opening ceremony was part of the celebrations of the 139 th anniversary of the Academy. The ribbon of the new facility was cut by the Rector – Flotilla Admiral Prof. Boyan Mednikarov, the Deputy Minister for Defence – Lieutenant General (ret.) Atanas Zapryanov, and the Commander of the Navy – Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov.
The main functions of the Maritime Astronomical Observatory consist of scientific research and education. The Observatory starts work with a Meniskas 150mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, situated in a 3-metre Scope Dome for optical observations, as well as with the radio receiving equipment available at the Naval Academy to conduct radio observations.
The research tasks that the Maritime Astronomical Observatory is faced with are related to: near-earth and dangerous asteroids, meteor streams, comets, asteroids from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, as well as solar activity. It will study the dynamics of artificial satellites – both active and from the space-junk type. The educational tasks will zero in on the theoretical and practical training in celestial navigation for military cadets and civilian students in accordance with the curricula at the Naval Academy.
The Maritime Astronomical Observatory will cooperate with the National Astronomical Observatory of Rozhen, with the Institute of Astronomy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the astronomical observatories of Sveti Kliment Ohridski Univerasity of Sofia and Episkop Konstantin Preslavski University of Shumen, the European Southern Observatory, the International Astronomical Union, the International Planetarium Society, the European Space Agency, NASA, ROSCOSMOS, and other space agencies and institutions.
The research and education activities of the Maritime Astronomical Observatory will be realised by a team of lecturers and specialists and by the Students’ Astronomical Society.