A r A S   N e w s






No. 5   (April 25, 2003)



Editor: T.Yu.Magakian, tigmag@sci.am



The ArAS Newsletter in the INTERNET:   http://www.aras.am







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            1) Astronomical Education in Armenia;

            2) New ArAS members;

            3) Armenian astronomers;

            4) Contact Information for ArAS.







Numerous petroglyphs of astronomical content, ruins of the sites for astronomical observations, Stonehenge-like constructions of smaller sizes as well as astronomical terms and names used in Armenian language since II-I millennia B.C. abundantly evidence that high level astronomical knowledge had been widely exercised in Armenian plateau for many thousands years. Historical chronography mentions Anania Shirakatzy to be the most famous scientist of VII century A.D. who had been teaching astronomy, mathematics and geography.


First ideas on astronomy the present pupils in Armenia get at elementary schools owing to special hours prescribed for the introduction of elementary knowledge on the structure of the surrounding world. Astronomy as a distinct subject is taught at all secondary schools in the country as well. Teaching is conducted according to a unified program elaborated jointly by professional astronomers and astronomy teachers and finally recommended by the Ministry of Education for all the schools in the country. However, both the secondary and elementary schools suffer the shortage of astronomy teachers, which negatively affects the education quality. The point is that only one hour per week is allocated for teaching astronomy, which obviously is not enough workload to hire specialized astronomy teachers at every school. For a decade in 80-s of last century this problem was partially solved using Yerevan planetarium capacities with professional lecturers invited from Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) and Yerevan State University (YSU). Unfortunately since the very beginning of 90s of last century the planetarium ceased to operate and there are negligible chances for its reopening in the near future. In some schools facultative training is organized faced to the amateurs craving for a deeper teaching of astronomy. During recent years annual competitions for revealing gifted pupils in astronomy are organized by Ministry of Education in collaboration with BAO. The country winners successfully participate and win prestigious prizes in the international astronomical Olympiads as well.


At YSU a department for astrophysics, set up by Prof V.Ambartsumian (IAU President 1961-64; ICSU President 1968-72) in 1946, is operating to date. This department trains specialists for a career in astrophysics. Presently only one or two students graduate from this department yearly while in 80s a dozen of specialists were trained every year. BAO serves as the scientific base for the students of YSU as well, and a number of staff members from BAO conduct special courses for YSU students. YSU provides Master's degree in astrophysics, and BAO is granting Doctor's (PhD) degree since 70s of last century. It is worth noting that many post graduate students from various countries of former Soviet Union as well as from abroad received their PhD degrees in astrophysics at Byurakan Observatory.


One of the main goals of the recently organized Armenian Astronomical Society (ArAS, 2001) is supporting the astronomical education as well as propagation of astronomical knowledge within the population in the country. The Society intends to use public lectures as well as opportunities given by TV channels and newspapers for achieving the goals in this particular field.


Hayk Harutyunyan,

Byurakan Observatory







During February-April 2003, another 7 astronomers became ArAS members. 4 are from the USA: Prof. James Houck, Dr. Bernhard Brandl, Dr. Donald Barry (all from the Cornell University, Bernd Brandl moving to the Leiden Observatory), and Dr. Arsen Hajian (USNO); Dr. David Mkrtichian is from the Odessa State University (Ukraine) currently working in South Korea; and 2 are from the Yerevan Physics Institute: Prof. Ashot Chilingarian and Dr. Meri Zazyan.


It is worth mentioning that at present we have a number of members from foreign institutions as well, scientists who have tight contacts and collaboration with the Armenian astronomers and willing to support our society. We are proud to have them with us!







One of the main tasks of the Armenian Astronomical Society is to make contacts between the all Armenian astronomers. For this, first of all we need to have a full list of the Armenian astronomers all over the world. We have made up a list of all astronomers of Armenian origin, as well as other astronomers working at Armenian institutions, and foreign ArAS members. All Armenian names from the IAU, EAS, EAAS, AAS, and RAS membership directories have been picked out. During the recent years, we have collected available information also on Armenian names from the astronomical literature. Some are Armenian scientists from other fields (physicists, mathematicians) working on astronomical subjects. The resulting list is attached to this letter.


In all, there are 183 people in our list, including 97 from Armenia, 29 from other FSU (Former Soviet Union) countries, 26 from the USA, 19 from European countries, and 12 from other countries. The detailed distribution by countries is the following:


97 - Armenia,

26 - USA,

21 - Russia,

 7 - France,

 6 - Mexico,

 5 - Germany,

 4 - Ukraine,

 3 - UK,

 2 - per Kazakhstan and Spain,

 1 - per Australia, Brasil, Canada, Georgia, Holland, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, and Uzbekistan.


64 astronomers work at Byurakan, and 23 are former Byurakan associates (residing both in Armenia and abroad; most of them have left astronomy). Other institutions having a few Armenian astronomers are: Yerevan State University (9), Yerevan Physics Institute (5), Garni Space Astronomy Institute (4), UNAM (Mexico) (4), St.Petersburg State University (4), Cornell University (3), etc.


We would like to ask you to help us by updating your data, as well as adding missed people (if any), complementing the missed data and correcting errors (if any). The contact e-mail addresses would be particularly useful. We acknowledge all of you for your kind help beforehand. Finally, for the first time we hope to have a full list of all Armenian astronomers.


Areg Mickaelian.


For the full list of all 183 Armenian astronomers visit the ArAS web page at: http://www.aras.am/armastronomers.htm






Address:           Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO),

Byurakan 378433, Aragatzotn province, ARMENIA

Tel/fax:              +374-1 53-27-51 (Areg Mickaelian)

E-mail:              aras@web.am, aras_org@freenet.am

Web page:        http://www.aras.am