ST. PETERSBURG, March 20. /ITAR-TASS/. The reunification of Crimea with Russia can and must lead to revival of science on the peninsula, first of all astronomy, believes the director of the Main (Pulkovo) Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Stepanov.
"It is celebration in my soul, as Crimea is my pain and my love," the scientist told Itar-Tass. He worked long at the Crimean Observatory, once world-known. He worked there after graduating from a university in 1961 and later from 1988 to 1995. In 1995, he received Russian citizenship and continued Universe researches at the Pulkovo Observatory.
The scientific potential created in Crime in the Soviet times can be restored, he believes. Astronomical instruments are in good working condition, but many scientists from the observatory left for the United States, Belgium and Russia. Many went into business.
There is a reflector a 2.5-metre telescope, one of Europe's largest, and several smaller telescopes at the Crimean astrophysical observatory. A powerful 22-metre radio telescope is located in the village of Nauchny. After technical renovation, it can give perfect material to study Gamma radiation, Stepanov notes.
"The Crimean observatory can become the brightest diamond in the crown of Russia's astronomy," the scientist said, "not only for its good instruments, but for its climate favourable to take high-quality pictures," he noted. St. Petersburg, where the Pulkovo observatory is located, has only 80-90 clear days a year, while Crimea has 200.
With a competent approach, the scientific potential in Crime can make the peninsula a leading scientific centre, he concluded.
The Crimean astrophysical observatory is located at a height of 550-600 metres. It was founded on June 30, 1945 at the site of the Simeiz centre of the Pulkovo observatory. Over decades, scientists at the observatory discovered more than 1,500 asteroids, a number of comets and variable stars and volcano activity on the Moon.
After the Soviet Union breakup, the observatory potential began to weaken. In 2012, the Ukrainian government attempted to eliminate the observatory, ordering to reorganize it. The reorganization could result in losing its independence and its status and possibilities to continue its traditions as one of leading scientific schools.