A r A S   N e w s






No. 28  (December 31, 2008)



Editor: Lilit Hovhannisyan



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








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We wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A lot of success and new achievements in the International Year of Astronomy 2009!






1.    Armenian program of the IYA-2009

2.    B.E. Markarian’s 95th anniversary meeting

3.    ANSEF awards 2009

4.    ArAS prize for young astronomers 2008

5.    International Astronomical Olympiads

6.    Anniversaries

7.    Obituaries. Paris Herouni (1933-2008)

8.    IVOA Newsletter

9.    Biographical Dictionary of the Armenian Astronomy




As it is well known, the year 2009 is announced by UNESCO as an International Year of Astronomy (IYA-2009). It is the 400th anniversary of creation and use of the first astronomical telescopes by Galileo in 1609. More than 100 countries have created national committees for IYA-2009 and have made up programs for their activities in 2009. We plan a number of events in Armenia as well, both related to an increase of activity of the professional astronomy and the popular astronomy. The program includes: creation of an Astronomical Council in Armenia, which will unify all scientific, educational, and popular institutions and organizations related to astronomy and which will coordinate questions of astronomical development, education, and popularization; French-Armenian astronomical workshop in Byurakan; series of seminars “Astronomy and other fields of science” for students; astronomical summer school for YSU students in Byurakan; publication of a DVD “Biographical Encyclopaedia of Armenian astronomy”; school program; mass media program; publication program; meetings with representatives of science and art; show programs; professional aid to amateur astronomers and creation of an association of amateur astronomers in Armenia, etc.




B.E. MARKARIAN 95th anniversary MEETING


Prof. B.E. Markarian’s 95th anniversary was on November 30 this year. On this occasion, a meeting (an extended seminar) was held in Byurakan on Monday, December 1. The program included an introductory talk by Dr. H.A. Harutyunian, talks by Dr. L.K. Erastova on “B.E. Markarian's life and activity”, by Dr. A.R. Petrosian on “Studies of Markarian galaxies”, a Lunch break, then two more talks by Dr. A.M. Mickaelian on “Digitized Markarian survey” and by L.A. Sargsyan on “Usage of the DFBS”. Some 30 Byurakan astronomers were present. Dr. S.A. Hakopian, Prof. E.Ye. Khachikian, Prof. E.S. Parsamian, Prof. V.H. Malumian, L.H. Baghyan, Dr. N.L. Ivanova, and Dr. R.Kh. Hovhannisyan told about their memories and impressions about Prof. Markarian as well. Dr. E.H. Nikoghossian, the Scientific Secretary of BAO, had prepared a poster about B.E. Markarian's life and activity, which is at present available in the Byurakan Observatory.


B.E. Markarian’s biography is available online at ArAS webpage.






ANSEF announced its 2009 awards. Altogether, 25 researchers received ANSEF grants for accomplishment of their projects in 2009, USD 5,000 each. This year only one project in astronomy/astrophysics was awarded ANSEF grant; Dr. Gabriel OHANIAN (Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory) Integral Field Spectroscopy of Different Types Radio Galaxies with Various Linear Sizes”. Dr. Ohanian receives also the William Mesrobian Astronomy Award, as each year one of the astrophysical projects is partially funded by the Mesrobian foundation. We congratulate Dr. Ohanian and wish him successful and fruitful accomplishment of his project and further scientific achievements.






At the end of December, ArAS announced its Annual Prize Award results for 2008. The Prize has been founded in 2004 by Prof. Yervant Terzian (Cornell, USA). Post-graduate students Artur Hakobyan (BAO) and Vardan Adibekyan (YSU) have been announced as winners, both showing outstanding results during 2008. Certificates and a sum of USD 100 donated by Prof. Yervant Terzian will be handed to each of them. Thus, since this year the ArAS prize has been increased to a total of 200 USD.


Artur A. HAKOBYAN, 27, has graduated from the Yerevan State University (YSU) in 2006 with excellence. He is a Ph.D. student at BAO under the scientific supervision of Dr. A.R. Petrosian. His studies are devoted to the extragalactic supernovae. In 2008, Artur published two papers (in Astrofizika and Astron. Astrophys.) and one more paper is in press in Astrofizika as well. Two more papers will be submitted soon to Astron. Astrophys. Since 2006, for 3-4 months annually  Artur visits Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (IAP, France) in frame of a joint post-graduate fellowship sponsored by the French Embassy in Yerevan and works at this high-level institution. Beside A.R. Petrosian, Artur works with the USA, French, and Italian colleagues.


Vardan Zh. ADIBEKYAN, 24, has graduated from the YSU in 2006 with excellence as well. He is a Ph.D. student at the YSU under the scientific supervision of Prof. M.A. Kazarian. His thesis is devoted to the spectral and morphological investigation of UV-excess Kazarian galaxies. In 2008, Vardan has published a paper in Astrofizika and two more papers are in press in Astrofizika as well. One of Vardan’s large works is the preparation of the catalog of Kazarian galaxies for an electronic publication at Vizier (with co-authors). Recently Vardan visited Astrophysikalisches Institut und Universitäts-Sternwarte, Jena, Germany and gave a talk on the subject of his thesis. A poster was presented at the conference devoted to the centenary of Prof. V.A. Ambartsumian.


We congratulate Artur and Vardan with this success and wish them future scientific achievements.





Recently our team returned from Trieste (Italy), where the XIII International Astronomical Olympiad took place. 93 pupils from 19 countries participated. Armenian pupils had great success and added another first-rank prize in their collection. 


With the aim of providing a steady development of astronomy and spreading astronomical knowledge, of enhancing the development of international contacts in the field of school education in astronomy and physics, in recognition of the growing significance of astronomy in all fields of science and human culture, and in the general education of young people, an annual astronomy competition has been founded by the Euro–Asian Astronomical Society (EAAS), the competition is called the International Olympiad of the Euro-Asian Astronomical Society (in short, the International Astronomy Olympiad or IAO) and is a competition between individuals. The International Astronomy Olympiad is one of the ways to popularize natural science among children and young people, singling out the most gifted students. 


The EAAS International Olympiad was founded on June 7, 1996, as an annual astronomy competition for high-school students. It is one of the International Science Olympiads. The Olympiad is being held every year, sometime in the period from September to December, in one of the astronomical centers of the Olympiad member states. School children of several age groups take part in the Olympiad. The first three Olympiads and the fifth Olympiad took place at the Russian State Research Center Special Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in North Caucasus on November 1-8, 1996, October 21-28, 1997, October 20-27, 1998, and October 20-27, 2000. The IV competition took place on September 25 - October 2, 1999 in the scientific town of Nauchnyj, Crimea, Ukraine at the Crimean Laboratory of Moscow University Sternberg Astronomical Institute (SAI), the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory (CrAO) and Astronomical Department of the Crimean “Youth Academy of Sciences”. Later on, IAO was held in several countries, including Sweden, China, Italy, etc.


The Armenian team takes part in IAO since 1997, but off and on, which has been connected with financial expenses. Dr. Armen Oskanian had a big contribution in preparing Armenian pupils. Tragically, he died in 2004, trying to rescue one of his sunk students in Crimea. Active roles have had and have A.M. Mickaelian, A.A. Hakopian, M.V. Gyulzadian, A.E. Grigorian, S.E. Nersisian. The Director of the Yerevan Physical-Mathematical school Dr. H. Navasardyan helps us too. Children at various times come to Byurakan, where they are always joyfully accepted by the Director of the Observatory Dr. H.A. Harutyunian, as well as our scientists benevolently read lectures for them. At night they get acquainted with the sky, studying constellations and individual stars, as well as they study to observe on telescopes.


Our students have had the following successes at IAOs:


Year                IAO #              Armenian participants        Diploma rank


2000                V                     Tigran Shahverdyan              II

2001                VI                    Mkrtich Soghomonyan          II

                                               Zhirayr Avetisyan                   III

                                               Tigran Shahverdyan              III

2002                VII                   Zhirayr Avetisyan                   II

                                               Mkrtich Soghomonyan          III

2003                VIII                  Zhirayr Avetisyan                   I

                                               Mkrtich Soghomonyan          I

                                               Artavazd Minasyan                III

2004                IX                    Tigran Nazaryan                    I

                                               Artak Pepanyan                     III

2007                XII                   Hrant Gharibyan                    III

2008                XIII                  Hayk Saribekyan                   I


Note: at the 1st IAO in 1996, Igor Chilingarian from Moscow also received I Diploma.


This year, with assistance of the President of the Armenian Academy of Sciences R.M. Martirosyan, the XI Astronomy Olympiad of the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) devoted to the 100th anniversary of the famous astrophysicist Viktor Ambartsumian took place at the Phys.-Math. high school after A. Shahinyan in Yerevan on September 19-26, 2008. 27 pupils from Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Russia took part. Armenian pupils got 6 diploma. Our results are: Hayk Saribekyan and Valery Vardanyan – I rank diplomas; Vahe Galstyan – II rank diploma; Vahagn Kirakosyan, Sipan Babertsyan, and Vruyr Khachatryan – III rank diplomas. Astronomy Olympiads of CIS countries are being held since 1990 (since 2003, annually) at the observatories or scientific centers of one of the CIS countries.


The National Astronomy Olympiad in Armenia was founded in 1976. In 2008 it was the 14th National Astronomy Olympiad (since 1998 the Olympiads have been included in the program of the Ministry of Education and have been held every year). The school students of the 9, 10, and 11 year of education (about 15, 16, and 17 years old, respectively) take part in the Olympiad. The selection for the National team to IAO is being done from the students of the 9 and 10 years of education (according to age limits in IAO). The Armenian Astronomy Olympiad is being held in 5 stages: I stage – Olympiads at schools and organizations, November; II stage – Olympiads in towns and cities, January; III stage – Olympiads in Provinces of Armenia, March; IV stage – All-country Olympiad, April; V stage – Camp for selection and training to IAO, June, typically in Byurakan.

Marietta Gyulzadian.




Prof. Davit SEDRAKIAN – 70. Davit Mher Sedrakian is one of the most famous Armenian physicists and astrophysicists. He was born on December 9, 1938 in Yerevan. In 1961, he graduated from the Yerevan State University (YSU). In 1964-1977, Sedrakian worked at the Department of Theoretical Physics of the YSU, and in 1977-1986 and since 1994 he was the Chair of the Department of General Physics at the YSU. He defended his Ph.D. thesis in 1964 and the Doctoral thesis in 1972, and was a Professor since 1975. In 1982 Sedrakian was elected a Corresponding member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and in 1990, a Full Member of NAS. In 1985-1990, he was the Academician-Secretary of the Armenian NAS, and in 1990-1994, the Vice-President. He was also the Chair of the Council on Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at the NAS, as well as chair and/or member of many scientific councils, including the Scientific Council and the Specialized Council on thesis defenses at BAO. Since 2000, Sedrakian is the Editor-in-Chief of the Astrofizika journal (English translation – Astrophysics), and has contributed a lot for the high international level of this publication. Prof. Sedrakian’s works relate to the theory of radiation, theoretical physics, and astrophysics. Since 1960s, Sedrakian worked on the problem of super dense celestial bodies, a problem put forward by Prof. V.A. Ambartsumian and started in collaboration with Prof. G.S. Sahakian. He has studied the diffraction radiation of the charged particles. Sedrakian has found the axial-symmetric solution in vacuum – one of the rare solutions of Einstein equations describing the gravitational field. Based on this, he has created a theory of rotating celestial bodies, which he applied for investigation of the physical characteristics of rotating polytrophic stellar models, white dwarfs, and baryonic stars. The results of this theory have confirmed that pulsars were rotating neutron stars. Sedrakian has been also engaged in the problem of the origin of super strong magnetic fields in pulsars, particularly, he suggested a theoretical mechanism based on the superfluidity property of neutrons and protons, which explains the existence of super strong magnetic fields in pulsars. Sedrakian also works on problems of observed deceleration of the rotation motion of pulsars, as well as on investigation of released during the deceleration energy and radio emission mechanisms. With the results of these studies, he has published more than 200 scientific papers. During many years Sedrakian collaborates with USA, French, and other foreign scientists and has visited many international scientific centers for invited seminars, research, participation in meetings, and discussions. Sedrakian was a laureate of the Lenin young communist prize of Armenia (1970), he was awarded the Anania Shirakatsi medal in 1999. He has been awarded CRDF and ANSEF grants. He has been the supervisor of many well-known physicists who successfully work at present at the YSU and elsewhere.

Areg Mickaelian


Dr. Jivan STEPANIAN – 60. Jivan Avetis Stepanian was born in September 1948 in Kirovabad (Azerbaijan). After finishing the secondary school he entered the Physical-Mathematical Department of the Yerevan State University (YSU), which he graduated from in 1970 with a specialization of Astrophysics. Then he started working at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO), first as an administrator of the Computing Centre of the Observatory. He passed military service as signaller in Mongolia. In 1973, he returned to the Observatory and was invited by B.E. Markarian for work on the First Byurakan Survey (FBS). He became an experienced observer and co-author of 5 Survey lists and the Catalog of Markarian galaxies. Since 1973, Stepanian in parallel was engaged in working out of a methodic of the Second Byurakan Survey (SBS). He created a device for sensitization of the photographic plates by heating them in the nitrogen flow. Though such a methodic was known abroad, anyway Stepanian was the first in the Soviet Union who accomplished it. Since 1978 he was engaged in the SBS. This was a large work, where only images of good and excellent quality were required for getting needed results, therefore he also was often engaged in improvement of the work of the 1m Schmidt telescope, as well as received observing time and studied the revealed objects on the Special Astrophysical Observatory (SAO, Russia) 6m telescope. In 1985, Stepanian defended his Ph.D. thesis on “The Second Byurakan Survey” (Markarian was his scientific supervisor), continuing working on the SBS. Since 1988 he headed the Laboratory of the 1m Schmidt telescope and since 1991 he was senior research associate. In 1989, the research group of this laboratory received a grant from the USSR Academy of Sciences on the subject of connection of macro- and micro- Cosmos (Velikhov). Since 1991 Stepanian worked as Deputy Director on Science of SAO, continuing working on the SBS and in 1995 he defended his Doctoral thesis. Stepanian is a leading expert in the field of extragalactic surveys, QSOs, Seyfert galaxies, and other active galaxies. He is a member of IAU.

Lidia Erastova


Dr. Norair MELIKIAN – 60. Norair Melikian was born on December 27, 1948 in Artashat – an old Armenian city located in the Ararat valley not far from Yerevan. He got his secondary education in his native city where he finished the secondary school with a gold medal. In 1968-1974 he was a student of the Faculty of Physics of the Yerevan State University (YSU). He started his scientific research in 1973 while being a student he was hired for observational programs going on at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO). After graduating from the YSU in 1974, he started new research theme as an assistant astronomer under supervision of Prof. Ludwig Mirzoyan in the Department of Physics of Stars and Nebulae. Initially the main area of his investigations was connected with the flare stars revealed in stellar clusters and in the general field. Melikian in 1984 defended his Candidate (Ph.D.) thesis entitled “Flare Stars in Stellar Aggregates and in Solar Vicinity”. After the defense of thesis, the field of his scientific interests became wider including many new types of variable or non-stationary stellar objects: T Tau type stars, cataclysmic variables, Herbig-Haro objects, Mira type variables, red giants and supergiants. He has published about 100 scientific papers in Astrofizika, Astronomical Journal, Astrophysical Journal, Astron. Astrophys., etc. Starting his scientific career as an assistant astronomer in 1973 he became in 1986 a researcher and since 1990 he was in the position of Senior Researcher. In 2006 he was appointed the Deputy Director of the BAO. He is a member of the Scientific Council of the Byurakan Observatory since 1994. Dr. Melikian is a member of the International Astronomical Union (1994), the European Astronomical Society (1992) and the Armenian Astronomical Society (2001). We congratulate our friend and colleague Norair Melikian on his birthday and wish a Caucasian health, happiness and a huge amount of energy for fulfilling his responsibilities in Byurakan.

Haik Harutyunian


Recently a few other astronomers celebrated their anniversaries as well. Prof. Edward Ye.  KHACHIKIAN (b. 1928), Dr. Rafik Kh. HOVHANNISSIAN (b. 1933), Dr. Hovsep S. CHAVUSHIAN (b. 1938), and Dr. Armen L. GYULBUDAGHIAN (b. 1948). All they work at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) and have contributed in various fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Materials on these scientists for publication in ArASNews are welcome.


We congratulate our scientists and wish them good health, further achievements, and prosperity.





Prof. Paris M. Herouni, a famous scientist, radio-physicist, radio-engineer, and radio-astronomer passed away after a long illness on December 5th, 2008. Herouni was born on December 17, 1933 in Yerevan. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies in Yerevan, he attended Moscow Power Institute, where he got his graduate degree in Radio Engineering in 1957. He would go on to get his Ph.D. in Radio Engineering from the same institution in 1965. Herouni became Doctor of Science in 1972 and Professor, in 1983. In 1996 he was elected Full member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and in 1999, Member of the Armenian Academy of Engineering. In 1971, P.M. Herouni founded the Institute of Radio-Physical Measurements (IRM) and was its Director since its foundation until his death. In 1983, he founded and headed the Chair of Antenna Systems at the Yerevan State Engineering University. Since 1972 he was the Chief Constructor of the Automated Radio Engineering Systems, and since 1981, the Chairman of the Scientific Council on Radio Electronics of the Armenian NAS.


P.M. Herouni left scientific heritage in the fields of radio-physics, radio-engineering, and radio-astronomy. Herouni's scientific discoveries and theories include his theory and calculations on the Method of the Large Double Mirror Antennas with Fixed Spherical Main Mirror, the theory and equations of electromagnetic field diffraction on the holes (apertures) of different configurations, Radio holography – methods of field determination in space by measurements of complex field near (NF) of the emitting or scattering objects, Methods of Near-to-Far (NF – FF) measurements of antennas and scattering objects parameters, theory of field diffraction in antenna edges when illuminates the part of main aperture, and foundation of the direction of Antenna Metrology.


Among P.M. Herouni’s many experiments are the First Radio-Optical Telescope (ROT-54/2.6 with a radio antenna with a diameter of 54m and an optical mirror with a diameter of 2.6m), the “Herouni Mirror Radio telescope” (projected, built, and adjusted by him), the large antenna of which has one of the best parameters among all large antennas in the world. He concluded and built antenna parameters and phase shift angle, being the first 11, based on the World National Primary Standards. The “AREV” project in 1992 was a new type of powerful and ecologically pure Solar Power Plant. He was the first to come across the powerful radio-flare on Etta Gemini star, a red giant and the powerful flares associated with that type of star. He also was the first to measure an aperture of an antenna, in the World Radio Hologram. Using this, he designed and built many highly, effective Automatic Complexes of equipment for NF – FF Antenna Measurements.


In more recent times P.M. Herouni began to take an interest in megalithic structures, such as Karahunge, which is an ancient observatory. By using four telescopic methods and the precession laws of Earth, he proved that Karahunge was more than 7500 years old; dating it to around 5,500 B.C. Though the age of Karahunge has not yet been finally established, Herouni’s works received high estimates by the world foremost experts on stone monuments (Prof. Gerald S. Hawkins et al.). P.M. Herouni has written about his discoveries and more in his recent book, Armenians and Old Armenia.


Because of his many scientific discoveries, P.M. Herouni has received numerous awards, such as, the Order of Red Labour Banner, Silver Medal of Catholicos of All Armenians (given to him by Vazgen I), State Prize of Armenia (1985), State Prize of the USSR in the field of Science (1986), Medal of Veteran of Labour, Bronze Medal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, Prize of the International Committee on Antennas and Propagation of Waves (1989), and the Russian Academy of Sciences Lomonosov Gold Medal. In addition, he also holded over 20 patents, and had published over 340 scientific papers, including 2 monographs. Herouni was member of a number of international organizations, including EAAS.

Areg Mickaelian.





The first issue of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) Newsletter is now available at http://ivoa.net/newsletter. This biannual newsletter for astronomers is intended to highlight new capabilities of VO tools and technologies for doing astronomy research. It also lists recent papers, and upcoming events.





A few years ago we have undertaken a large work on collection of full information on all Armenian astronomers in the world. To remind, we consider Armenian astronomers all those with an Armenian origin, those who have worked in Byurakan and have relations to the Armenian astronomy, as well as all ArAS members. A partial result is the list of the Armenian astronomers at the ArAS webpage, at present containing 204 names, though most of the material is being kept in our database, which is not yet fully available. Many of you have sent materials for the book, which was announced and was planned at the beginning. However, as the database has largely increased and a single book would not include all the volume due to its limits, we now plan to publish all this material in a DVD and distribute to the astronomical community. The publication of the DVD about V.A. Ambartsumian this year proved its efficiency to reflect all possible materials: texts, pdf files of the publications, numerous photos, videos, etc.


However, until now many of you have not sent materials about yourselves. To keep a maximum objectiveness, we plan to give the biographical materials and achieved scientific results according to the original texts provided by each astronomer. Otherwise we will give available materials from Internet, from published books and encyclopaedia, etc. The pdf files of your publications would be also helpful, if you readily have them with you (especially of the papers in refereed journals). Photos may be given as many as possible, including all colour photos.


The International Year of Astronomy (IYA-2009) would be a good occasion for publication of the Biographical DVD of the Armenian astronomy. Therefore, we would like to have all materials before March 31, 2009. All contributions are welcome and are appreciated.