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Baldone observatory

The more I learn about the Universe, the more I realize how much I don’t know.
I increasingly see the secrets of the essence of things.
I know so little....

                                                  /Albert Einstein/

Baldone observatory is the only professional observatory in Latvia. Full name of the observatory is the Astrophysical Observatory of the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Latvia. It is in Baldone, Riekstukalns, in a forest enclosure, where neither the bright light of the cities nor the noise can disturb. The observatory has a Schmidt system telescope, which is a unique large field of vision device, the largest in the Baltics and the twelfth largest in the world of such a system. The telescope observes stars and objects endangering Earth – comets, and asteroids.

Magic of the night

People have always been fascinated by the unknown. At night, we can see countless stars in the sky. Some people can recognize the constellations; others can read the stars to predict the fate of a person.

In the past, stars were used in religion, celestial navigation and orientation. Astronomers grouped stars in constellations and used them to track the planetary motion. The solar movement in relation to other stars was used to create a calendar that would be used to regulate farming. The Gregorian calendar, which was used almost everywhere in the world, is also a solar calendar based on the angle of the Earth's rotation axis against the relatively closest star – the Sun.

But what are stars really? The stars are celestial bodies that emit light and heat. The closest star to us is the Sun. Planets circle around the Sun. Each of them is different. Life exists only on Earth. Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Moon orbits planet Earth, being its natural satellite. The planets and their satellites do not shine themselves. They reflect light from the Sun.

Asteroids are small planets, small celestial bodies circling around the Sun mostly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Comets are stars with tails which, like other bodies of the Solar System, circle around the Sun. Orbits of comets are very stretched and change due to planetary gravity. Comet is made up of a core consisting of ice and covered with a mixture of dust and frozen gases. Near the Sun, the nucleus warms and begins to release gases producing a visible atmosphere or coma, and a long tail.

Baldone Observatory History

In 1946, the Institute of Physics and Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic created the Astronomy Section, later - the Astronomical Sector at the Institute of Physics. In 1957, in the place chosen by astronomers – near Riekstukalns in Baldone, the institute built the first laboratory building. In 1958, the Astronomical Sector was separated from the Institute of Physics and began independent work as the Astrophysical Laboratory of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1964, the German Democratic Republic (company “Carl Zeiss Jena”) delivers a Schmidt System Telescope. In 1967, after the 1965 approval of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., the Astrophysical Laboratory was transformed into a Radio Astrophysical Observatory of the Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences.

In 1997, due to the science reform in Latvia, the Radio Astrophysical Observatory of the Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences was incorporated into the University of Latvia and, together with the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Latvia, established an independent Institute of Astronomy. The Observatory is the base of the LU Astronomical Institute, it’s official name - L the Astrophysical Observatory of the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Latvia.

The head of the Observatory is the director and researcher of the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Latvia - Dr. Phys. Ilgmārs Eglītis, who has been working in the Observatory since 1974.

Achievements in astrophysics

Astrophysics is a physics and astronomy field studying the physical properties, chemical composition and interactions of cosmic objects such as stars, and galaxies.

International code of the LU Astrophysical Observatory in Baldone is 069 IAU (International Astronomical Union). It is a state importance science object and the only station for professional optical astronomical observations in Latvia. During more than 40 years of operation the observatory's main astronomical tool the Schmidt System Telescope has captured over 25,000 astronomy pictures, and the observatory researchers have discovered more than 40 asteroids. In 2011, the 274084-discovered asteroid was named after Baldone. Asteroid 274084 Baldone is the first small planet discovered directly in Latvia and the 15th small planet the name of which is associated with Latvia.

Guided tours, experiments and master classes

Planetarium - count the stars, do not count your time!

The Baldone Observatory offers exciting guided tours to individual groups, newlyweds, students, and collectives. It is possible to travel to outer space, look at the planets of the Solar system up close, discover the mysteries of the nightly universe and see the telescope in the moving dome.

Tours take place regardless of the weather and also during the daylight. Using the latest technologies and connections it is possible to project a real-time celestial image on the pavilion dome with a magnification of 10,000 that cannot be obtained by any Earth telescope.

 “Green miracles”

Exciting physics and chemistry experiments. The program includes telling chemistry and physics experiments: chemistry salute, foam volcanoes, coloured solutions, flames, etc.

Both kids and grownups will learn new and exciting things about physics and chemistry in a new and entertaining way. Everything genius is simple!

Cosmic soap

Cosmic soap making masterclasses. Families, groups of students or work collectives in a fun and creative atmosphere can create very special and unusual soap hiding a piece of space.

Contact information:

Riekstukalns, baldones pagasts, Baldones novads,
LV - 2125

Guided tour contacts:

The duration of each tour is 1 hour.
Tours must be booked upon calling.
+ 371 29 266 797 (Vija)
+ 371 28 763 738 (Ilgmārs)

LAT: 56.7734, LON: 24.4041