Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory

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Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Circular of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory
Panoramic view of the Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory
Panoramic view of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory
Named afterNasir al-Din al-Tusi Edit this on Wikidata
OrganizationNational Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan
LocationPirqulu, Azerbaijan Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates40°46′20″N 48°35′04″E / 40.7722°N 48.5844°E / 40.7722; 48.5844Coordinates: 40°46′20″N 48°35′04″E / 40.7722°N 48.5844°E / 40.7722; 48.5844
Altitude1,500, 1,435 m (4,921, 4,708 ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Telescopes2 m Carl Zeiss Jena reflector
AZT-8 photoelectric telescope
AST-452 meniscus telescope
Zeiss-600 telescope
Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory is located in Azerbaijan
Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory
Location of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Circular of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 40°46′20″N 48°35′04″E / 40.77222°N 48.58444°E / 40.77222; 48.58444The Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory (SHAO) (Nəsirəddin Tusi adına Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanası in Azerbaijani) is an observatory located in the north-east of the Great Caucasus Mountains, about 22 km from the centre of Shamakhy, and 150 km from Baku in Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus. It is located on the eastern slope of Pirqulu, at a height of 1500 m, the geographical coordinates being 48°35'04" E, 40° 46'20" N. The number of clear, cloud-free nights reaches here about 150-200 per year.


Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory, named after Nasir al-Din al-Tusi of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, was established in 1959 by the decision (17 November) of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. However, the history of scientific research in the field of astrophysics goes back to previous years. In 1927, a permanently operating astronomical expedition was created to study Astro-climate in some regions of Azerbaijan. The expedition had to choose the best geographical location for the observatory in Kalbajar, Lachin, Shamakhy, Khizi and other regions of the republic. As a result of the investigations it was found out that the Pirgulu region of Shamakhy was the most suitable place for the creation of a scientific centre in this direction and in 1953, it was decided to build an observation base and later an observatory. The Center is part of the Astrophysics Department (1954), then the Astrophysics Sector of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan (ASA) (1956), within the ASA Institute of Physics and Mathematics. In addition to astronomical observations in 1953-59, the future design of the observatory, the training of specialists in the field of astronomy, telescope and equipment supply, and the structure of the observatory was undertaken. In 1957 the first telescope was installed at the Pirgulu Astronomical Station (Chromosphere-Photosphere Solar Telescope). In 1959 the issue of studying the Astro-cyclicity of the area was solved by launching a 200-mm photoelectric telescope. Construction of the observatory began in 1958 in then Azerbaijan SSR and officially opened on January 13, 1960[1] . The observatory was created on the initiative of prominent Azerbaijani scientists Hasan Aliyev and Yusif Mammadaliyev. Yusif Mammadaliyev, the prominent Azerbaijani scientist, played a great role in the foundation of the observatory. In 1991, the observatory was given the name of Nasiraddin Tusi, a mathematician, physicist and astronomer of the Middle Ages. A settlement for the habitation of employees was established under the observatory and was named after Yusif Mammadaliyev (Pirgulu). In September 2008, the observatory went through capital repair, the exhibition hall, museum, conference and lecture halls, six buildings for telescopes, including the building housing the main two-metre telescope and main administrative building were overhauled, and a canteen and cottages built.[2][3][4] The first director of Shamakhy Astrophysics Observatory was academician Hajibey Sultanov (1960–1981). The academy has great merits in the establishment and development of the observatory.

Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory 3.jpg

Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory named after N. Tusi in modern times[edit]

Astrophysical observations were organized intensively, at the Shamakhy Observatory in 1960–1980. In those years, in the country, great attention was paid to the preparation of cadres in the field of astrophysics. To this end, in 1976 by the special order of national leader Heydar Aliyev, at the Azerbaijan State University was founded the Department of Astrophysics. To date, this department plays an important role, in the preparation of qualified cadres. In 1981, by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory was named after Nasreddin Tusi, the great astronomer of Azerbaijan. The Batabat Section of the SARS (1973) (Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic) and the Aghdara Astronomical Station (1997), were established under the Observatory. The Baku Branch of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory plays an important role in the coordination of the observatory's activities and the establishment of mutual relations with other structures of ANAS. The Astronomy Museum also serves in the Observatory. The museum plays an important role in promoting the observatory and its astronomy as a whole.

The museum plays an important role in promoting of the observatory and its astronomy as a whole. The crater was named “Nadir Ibrahimov” on Mars, in honour of the deceased employee of the “SHAO” and a crater on the moon was named Nasreddin Tusi. At present, 13 of the names given to small celestial bodies, as well as to the crater of planets, are related to Azerbaijan. All this, undoubtedly, is an indication of the success of astronomy in Azerbaijan. On the basis of relevant orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr Ilham Aliyev, reconstruction works were carried out in Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory named after N. Tusi in 2009–2013. As a result of the attention and care shown by Mr President to the Azerbaijani science, guest houses of the observatory was completely renovated, its main corpus was renovated (a new astronomy museum, a large conference hall,) a new laboratory building was built and telescopes were renovated, auxiliary facilities (dining-room, boiler-room, substation), were commissioned and large-scale landscaping works were implemented. New communication lines (gas, water, electricity, telephone,) that correspond to modern standards have been created, the double-telescope has been fully automated and modernized. For aluminizing of astronomical mirrors surface, vacuum unit B-240 was restored in 2007. A special building was built and put into service. For the first time in the history of the SHAO in 2013, the process of aluminizing the mirrors was carried out by local experts. The existence of this unique device allows the Shamakhy Astrophysics Observatory not only to open its mirrors but also to regularly cover the aluminium layer in the mirrors of the regional observatories.[5]

Photo: When President Ilham Aliyev was acquainted with the reconstruction works at Shamakhi Astrophysics Observatory[6]

Scientific research[edit]

Scientific research at the Observatory is based on two aspects Dynamics and Physics of Stellar Medium: "Comprehensive Study of Physical Variations in Stars and Nebulae", (the study of non-stationary processes occurring in celestial bodies and their nature) and "Physics of Solar system", "Physics and dynamics of bodies", "Dynamics and Physics of Active Structures in Solar Atmosphere", "Solar-Earth Relations", "Exploration of Planet Atmospheres and Their Satellites", Comet, Asteroid, Solar System Physics, Their Structure, Physics and Evolution. More than 100 monographs, textbooks, catalogues, and scientific-mass books were published by astronomers during the activity of the Observatory. The journal "Shao's circular" has a history of 40 years. Since 2006, the "Azerbaijan Astronomy Journal" has been published. Along with this, the observatory also closely participates in the publication of the international journal "Sun and Geosphere" in English. During the existence, its staff published over 2,500 papers in foreign and local journals.[7]

International Relations[edit]

"The Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory has a very long history. Worldwide, it has a great influence on the world of science. I am very glad to see the reconstruction of this observatory and the wonderful conditions here. ... I am sure that this observatory will serve the people of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani science for decades, decades later"

Ilham Aliyev,

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan: scientists and specialists labouring at the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory, successfully continue their activities in many scientific institutions of the world, including the United States, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey. A number of international and republican symposiums and conferences were held in Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory. Among them are congresses of the International Astronautics Federation (1972), conferences dedicated to research of magnetic stars (1973, 1976), Plenum of the USSR SA Astronomical Council (1984), “Tusi-800” Conferences (8 conferences in 1998–2002) “Periodic and Cosmic Problems” (2003), "International Conference dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Foundation of the SHAO "(2013) and others. During the activity of the SHAO, the observatory staff carried out joint work with the foreign astronomers on a number of actual topics. Close cooperation with solar physics and solar-earth problems are carried out by separate astronomical organizations from Russia, Germany, Israel, Bulgaria, Georgia, and other countries. Studies are carried out jointly with the staff of several Russian observatories on the direction of astrophysics Russian AS XAR, State Astronomical Institute named after Sternberg of Moscow State University, St. Petersburg SU and others. Studies are carried out with astronomers from Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan and other countries on the study of comets and meteorites. SHAO employees regularly and actively participate in congress, symposium and conferences held in foreign countries, informing world astronomers about the work done in the observatory.[8]


The observatory measured the light polarization of Comet d'Arrest, during the Soviet period.[9] The main instrument – reflecting telescope produced in Germany, with a diameter of the mirror of 2 meters and which was turned over for operation in 1966 and which is the first big telescope of the South Caucasus.

In addition, the following instruments are employed in the observatory: For spectral investigations of the solar atmosphere, horizontal solar telescope with a diameter of the main mirror 50 cm.

A chromospheric and photospheric AFR-2 telescope with dimensions of 20/13 cm, used for needs in solar service;

AZT-8 reflector with a diameter of a mirror of 70 cm;

The Carl Zeiss reflector, with a diameter of a mirror of 60 cm; Meniscus telescope of Maksutov's system, equipped with a lens prism, with the diameter of an inlet port 35 cm. A 90-cm AZT-15 Schmidt telescope installed in the observatory in 2013.[2]

Photo: Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory (2 meter telescope)

2-meter telescope and its devices.[edit]

Photo: 2 meter telescope

This telescope was installed by the German company “ Carl Zeiss JENA”. The primary parabolic mirror has a diameter of 2080mm, and a focal length  of 9000mm. 2 m telescope  combines 3 different optical systems and is intended mainly for spectral observations:

• Principal focus. Resolving power-1:4.5.Focal length-23”/mm. Devices: principal focus cassette having useful field 21’x21’ applying corrector for photometric observations, spectrograph of the principal focus with two diffraction gratings and three cameras which are used for the study of faint celestial bodies. • Cassegrain focus . The equivalent focus length – 29500 mm. Relative aperture – 1:14.5. Length 7”/mm. Devices: 2x2 prism spectrograph having dispersion of H at 90 and 180 A/mm and providing with CCD having sizes of 1024x1536 pixels to obtain spectra of faint stars. Classic spectrograph of diffractional grating (UAGS) having dispersion 29,44,86,196 A/mm for the quantitative spectral analysis of stars. Cassegrain-Escelle spectrograph of 2 cameras (F= 150 mm, F= 250 mm) with resolving powers of 1500 and 2500 and CCD's matrixes with 530x580 pixels (nitrogen cooling) to obtain high resolved spectra of faint stars in Cassegrain focus. CCD's matrixes with 3056x3056 pixels (with thermoelectric cooling system) having useful field 4’x4’ for photometry and cassette plant provided with international filter set.

• Coude focus. Equivalent focal length – 72000 mm. Light power- 1:36. Scale – 3”/mm. Devices: Escelle spectrograph with resolving powers of 30000, universal Coude-Escelle spectrograph with super high resolving three cameras (F=350mm, F=700mm, F=1400mm), two Escelle grating (γ =63.5°,γ = 80°) of first Escelle grating of 63.5” with resolving powers of R=95000 and R= 190000, Escelle grating of 80° with resolving powers of R= 260000 and R=530000 4000x4000.

Light receivers: 1. CCD camera with 530x580 pixels (1pix=18x24 mik. Nitrogen cooling) 2. CCD camera with 4000x4000 pixels (1 pix=15 mik.nitrogen cooling) 3. CCD camera with 3056x3056 pixels (1 pix=12 mik. el ectronic cooling). 4. CCD camera with 1024x1536 pixels (1pix=9mik. electronic cooling).

Teleskop “Zeiss-600”[edit]

It was installed by the Gernan company “Carl Zeiss JENA” in 1982. It is used for the photometric investigations of stars and galaxies.The diameter of the primary parabolic mirror is 600mm the focal length is 2400mm; the focal length of Cassegrain system is 755 mm. Field : 28”/mm. The observations were conducted with electrophotometer for a long time but at the present moment they are conducted with multifunctional photometer polarimeter (useful field is 17 arcmin) prepared correspondingly to optic system of telescope “Zeiss-600” and provided with filter set (B,V,Rc,R,J) of the international photometric system with the aid of Science Development Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. CCD camera (electronic cooling) is used of FLI company with sizes of 4000x4000 pixel (1 pix=9 mik) as light receiver. Recently CCD photometry of young stars of medium ( stars of UX Ori type ) and giant ( stars of Wolf-Raye type) weight and galaxies of different type has been conducted, more than 1000 colourful numerical images have been obtained.

Telescope “AZT-8”[edit]

Photo: Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory 17.jpg

It was installed in 1970. The diameter of the primary parabolic mirror is 700 mm, a focal length is 2820 mm. Focal length in the first Cassegrain system is 11 200 mm and relative aperture is 1:16 and field of view is 18’, relative aperture of 1:40. The telescope was equipped with CCD photometer (field of view 8 arcmin) of five filters for the photometric observations of stars and galaxies, ASP 21 spectrograph with 30A/mm dispersion for obtaining of the spectra of bright stars. The telescope is intended for the photoelectric, polarimetric and spectral observations of celestial bodies.

At the present time, telescopes require modernization.

Meniscus telescope “AST-452”[edit]

This telescope with the Maksutov optic system is intended for the photographic observations. İt was installed in 1964. İt is a classical optic meniscus system and was worked out by D.D.Maksutov. This telescope is compact and latent that is why the image obtained with this telescope is very qualitative. The telescope was prepared with special order of the optic – mechanical plant in Kazan.

The telescope was equipped with 2 objective prisms of meniscus lens, lens turning out surface of spheric focal surface and of refraction angles 15°and 35° 40'. As all these were prepared with ultraviolet glass spectral and photometric observations can be carried out till the nearest ultraviolet field (λ3400A).

The diameter of meniscus lens of the aperture is 350 mm, the diameter of the mirror is 490 mm, the focal length of the telescope is 1200 mm. The scale in the focal surface of the telescope is 2.86’/ mm.The resolving power of the telescope is 1:3.4. The telescope can be used in 2 optic systems in primary and Newtonian focuses. A field of view in the primary focus is 4’ 14’ linear size of the field is 90 mm and in the Newtonian focus 2 52 and 60mm correspondingly. This telescope is irreplaceable for carrying out spectral classification and photometry of stars in the clusters, search of nova and super nova stars, comets and asteroids as well.

At the present time, telescopes require modernization.

Azimuth Coelostat Plant ASQ-5 (Horisontal solar telescope)[edit]

The telescope was installed in 1963. İt is used for the spectral and photometric investigation of the Sun. The diameter of its coelostat secondary and primary mirrors is 440 mm, the diameter of Newtonian mirror is 200 mm, the Newtonian focal length is 17 500 mm, and equivalent focus distance in the Cassegrain system is 60 540 mm. The telescope was equipped with two cameras for the direct photography in primary and Cassegrain focus as well. The Newtonian focus is used for the spectral and magnetic observations.The telescope was equipped with ASP-20 spectrograph working in autocollimated regime (focal length is 7000 mm).Ratingof 150–200 square mm ruled area and 600 lines mm. Dispersion in the second working order is 1.12 Å / mm and spectral field is 360 Å, diameter of the image is 160 mm is used for the obtaining of spectrograms of solar flares, for visual observations of the magnetic fields of sunspots, studies on the development and dynamics of coronal prominences and spicules, fine structure of the solar spectral lines.

At the present time, telescopes require modernization.

Chromosphere photospheric telescope AFR-3[edit]

İt was installed in 1957. This telescope was used for the solar patrol more than 35 years, the diameter of the photospheric tube objective is 200 mm and the equivalent focal length is 9 000 mm the diameter of the chromospheric tube is 130 mm and the focal lengths are 6 000 and 2 000 mm the diameter of an image is 100 m. with the help of the polarization interference filter (band width is 0.5A) the chromospheric patrol and patrol of other active formations on the Sun üere carried out. With the help of photospheric tube the solar photosphere was observed.

• B-240 vacuum unit. In 1986 it was taken from Germany to aluminate the surface of astronomical mirrors. In 2005 it was sent to Germany for modernization and was commissioned in 2007.

• B-240 vacuum aluminium device. It was installed in 2008. Liquefaction Nitrogen Device for cooling the heaters used in SAO's 2-meter telescope.

• VLF – Very low Frequency radio receiver. In 2008, as a result of co-operation with Stanford University, it was provided unrestricted and joined the international network. The received database is being sent to Stanford University. The aim of the course is to study the influence of solar activity on ionosphere, including atmospheric (lightning, etc.) and Ionosphere events.

• SuperSİD. Device for watching sudden ionosphere events at the same time.

At the present time, telescopes require modernization.


The Scientific Library was created when it was created Observatory. Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory Scientific Library consists of two major halls – a depository fund. The reading room was organized in the first hall. There is an exhibition of new books, periodicals, magazines, encyclopedias. In the second large hall, the general fund of the library, the literature in Russian, and other foreign languages are systematically placed. The Library has more than 14,000 books, more than 2,500 magazines (in 21 in Russian, 23 in English, 8 in local magazines), 5 newspapers ("Azerbaijan", "People", "Republic", "Science" and "Search" , ancient and rare editions, manuscripts, field dictionaries and encyclopedias, reference journals and other special scientific and technical literature. The library carries out international exchange of books in more than 25 countries (more than 45 foreign institutions and organizations), exhibitions, etc. is closely involved in organizing events. The library plays an important role in the field of astrophysics and astronomy, as well as publishing of publications and electronic editions.[10]

International collaboration and achievements[edit]

The Shamakhy observatory has made a significant contribution to extensive Soviet and post-Soviet scientific programmes in astrophysics and fundamental astronomy.[2] The observatory works on three main scientific trends: the physics of stars, investigation of solar system bodies and solar physics and solar-terrestrial relations.[2] Current investigations also include the effects of space weather, the history of astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, cosmology, helioseismology, radio-astronomy, practical astronomy, celestial mechanics, galaxies and the dynamics of artificial satellites.[2] In recent years, a new area of work has been the development and construction of astronomical devices such as Echelle spectrographs, used for investigations of celestial bodies.[2]


The observatory is best known to the Azerbaijani public for its specifications of the exact time of holidays, such as the traditional new year, Novruz.[2] The observatory tells the media the moment of the vernal equinox, the time when the Sun will cross the equator, which marks the start of the new year.[2]

Directors of the observatory[edit]

Name Nationality Period Notes
Hajibey Sultanov  Soviet Union 1951–1980 [11]
Ogtay Huseynov  Soviet Union 1980-19?? [12]
Alik Abbasov  Soviet Union 19??-???? [12]
Zohrab Ismayilov  Soviet Union 19??-???? [12]
Kamran Huseynov  Soviet Union 19??-???? [12]
Schmidt Ahmadov  Azerbaijan ????-1997 [12]
Ayyub Guliyev  Azerbaijan 1997–2015 [13]
Namig Jalilov Azerbaijan 2015--

Foreign cooperation[edit]

Cooperation between Baku State University with Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory on April 6, 2017 by purpose of establishment of branch of Astrophysics chair of Baku State University at Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory and agreement was signed on establishing a branch of the Astrophysics department of BSU in the observatory. The document was signed by rector of Baku State University, academician Abel Maharramov and director of Shamakhi Astrophysics Observatory Namig Jalilov. According to the relevant contract, in October 2018, the Branch of the Astrophysics Department of Physics Faculty of BSU has opened its branch in Shamakhi Astrophysics Observatory.


Many employees had been elected members of the International Astronomical Union, the European Astronomical Society, and the Eurasian Astronomical Union. The Observatory is also a member of the International Astronautics Union.

During the activity of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory, the observatory staff works together with the foreign astronomers on a number of actual issues. During the existence of the Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory, its staff published more than 2,500 articles in foreign and local journals.The solar physics and solar-earth problems Close cooperation had been established with Russia, Germany, Israel, Bulgaria, Georgia and different astronomical organizations of other countries. Star physics direction the research is being carried out with Russian Observatory staff (Russian EA KhAR, Moscow State University of Schnberg State Astronomical Institute, St. Petersburg DU, etc.). The mobile station of the famous Stanford University of USA operates in the Observatory.

Students and practitioners from many foreign countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Turkey come to the Observatory, learn habits how to work in the telescope. Many of the results obtained in the Observatory have been accepted by world academics and have numerous references to them.


Famous workers of the observatory[edit]


  1. ^ "Brief History". Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory. Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Babayev, Elchin. "Azerbaijan's Window on the Universe". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ "Azərbaycan Prezidenti Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanasında olub". Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. ^ "İlham Əliyev Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanasında aparılan yenidənqurma işləri ilə tanış olmuşdur". Archived from the original on 2013-07-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ "Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory signed an agreement with Russian State Institute of Astronomy". Archived from the original on 2019-02-26. Retrieved 2019-02-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ [İlham Əliyev Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanasında aparılan yenidənqurma işləri ilə tanış olmuşdur., 13 sentyabr 2011 İlham Əliyev Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanasında aparılan yenidənqurma işləri ilə tanış olmuşdur., 13 sentyabr 2011] Check |url= value (help). Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Shamakhy Astrophysical Observatory signed an agreement with Russian State Institute of Astronomy". Archived from the original on 2018-10-19. Retrieved 2019-04-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "President of Azerbaijan in the Observatory-ShamakhyAstrophysical Observatory named after Nasiraddin Tusi". Archived from the original on 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ Бронштэн, В.А. Появления комет в 1976 г (in Russian). Астрономический календарь 1978 г. Archived from the original on 2006-01-17. Retrieved 2007-06-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ ""Günəş sisteminin planetləri" kitabının təqdimatı keçirilib". Archived from the original on 2019-03-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ "Archived copy" Султанов, Гаджибек Фараджуллаевич. (in Russian). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b c d e Шемахинская астрофизическая обсерватория. (in Russian). Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Nəsirəddin Tusi adına Şamaxı Astrofizika Rəsədxanası". AMEA İnformasiya Texnologiyaları İnstitutu. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)