Dr. Tanyu Bonev, director of the National Astronomical Observatory Rozhen, in an interview with Radio Smolyan - Focus
FOCUS: Dr. Bonev, what was the past year for the Rozhen Observatory?
Dr. Tanyu Bonev: The biggest event in 2009 not only for Rozhen observatory but for world astronomy in general was that 2009 was declared as the International Year of Astronomy by UNESCO. In this context in Rozhen region and worldwide, were held many interesting astronomical events. Regarding the observatory the most important thing we did this year was the renewal of scientific infrastructure. We upgraded our two-meter telescope with a new management system. We failed to persuade any previous government, nor the present one, that Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and should follow the Lisbon strategy in which it is said that countries in the European Union build themselves as countries due to the knowledge and science. More attention should be paid to education, science, etc.
FOCUS: Do you think that money for science in Bulgaria is insufficient?
Dr. Tanyu Bonev: Certainly, I think that money is infinitely insufficient compared with the average funds which are allotted for science in the European Union. 2010 we will continue the modernization of the National Astronomical Observatory Rozhen. We rely primarily on survival through the leadership of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. On the other side we rely on financing of the projects that we had with the Science Research Fund, we hope that this will continue next year. Thanks to this funding we were able to renovate two-meter telescope, which is now a highly reliable and modern for observation of astronomical phenomena. Because of this, in 2010 we will continue to update the devices used on this telescope. We will make it competitive in Europe.
FOCUS: How many people have visited the observatory this year?
Dr. Tanyu Bonev: There is no drop in visits. They are approximately as in other years. The Observatory is an attractive and interesting place for tourists. Approximately 10 000 people visited the observatory in 2009. Most of the tourists visited the observatory during the summer. There were days when, from morning till night, groups of tourists, students, foreign and Bulgarian tourists were visiting the observatory. There was permanent presence of fellow astronomers who scientifically explaining what we do at the observatory, and its goals. Astronomers explained to visitors how we care for the infrastructure, how telescopes are reviewed. The most interesting for people is why we do it all this. It seems to me that many visitors who passed through the observatory understand that there is a difference between astronomy and astrology, between science and suggestions that can not be said to be scientific.
FOCUS: You mentioned that upgrading the observatory will continue. What exactly will modernize in 2010?
Dr. Tanyu Bonev: The main trend in the observatory, in which Bulgarian astronomers are leading is AstroSpectroscopy. This means obtaining spectra of astronomical objects, which identify the chemical composition and physical properties. And that is why our main goal is to build a new spectrograph for two-meter telescope, which will enable to monitor larger ranges of the spectrum of stars. In this way they will be observed with greater resolution, i.e. will be viewed in finer detail. The money for this comes partially from the Scientific Research Fund. The construction of this spectrograph will enable us to retain our position in this area of astronomical science.