KAZAN, November 21. /TASS/. The Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan plans to seek the UNESCO World Heritage site status for the Kazan University Observatory, currently witnessing a significant growth of tourism.
"More than 23,000 people visited the observatory and planetarium of the Kazan Federal University since the beginning of 2017 (in 2016 the number of visitors stood at 16,000)," Yuri Nefedyev, the observatory’s director, told TASS.
The university and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are planning to submit a bid to secure the UNESCO status by the end of 2017.
"Tatarstan has this gem, which should be supported by all means," Nefedyev said, adding that the UNESCO status would contribute to the site’s popularity.
According to him, unlike most remote mountain observatories, this facility, which is just a 20-minute ride from Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, is available anytime.
"Many people come to evening excursions to take a look at celestial bodies, the Andromeda Galaxy and lunar craters," the observatory’s director said.
He said that in 2018 the observatory will open an outdoor astronomical park and translate its lectures into the Tatar language to attract more visitors.
The observatory occupies some 21 hectares and has 12 telescopes. It also runs a museum featuring old-fashioned telescopes and sundials.
"I should also mention the Mini-MegaTORTORA (MMT) telescope installed in the North Caucasus mountains and controlled from Kazan. This device helped us discover the initial stage of the supernova star explosion. Nobody in the world has done this before," Nefedyev said.
In 2018, the observatory plans to start digitalizing astrophotography images.
According to Nefedyev, some 40 million astrophotography images have been digitalized across the globe. The Kazan observatory has some 11,000 such images and wants this priceless material to be available to everyone.
"You will nowhere else see what the skies looked like 100 years ago," the director said.