“We have the stars came together”: the lives of the only Ukrainian school Observatory

From the Zhytomyr school №8 — is quite normal. Four floors, fresh facade, a large area with playgrounds. And a strange gray turret on the roof, which has only recently acquired its unusual dome. And there, inside it, is the only Ukrainian school Observatory, through which children can not just learn, say, the planets of the Solar system, but to see them firsthand, to follow the movement in the orbit and even to make their own video of these amazing processes.

In the foyer you will immediately understand that here love astronomy. Huge newspaper on the left, filled with photos of the Observatory equipment and specifications. On the floor — a sheet of paper on which is painted the stars, planets and galaxies. Walking through the corridors and read the colorful letters on these posters, it is easy to pass an introductory course on astronomy to learn about the neighbors of the Earth in the Solar system to see the milky way. Moreover, part of the images — wonderful fantasy drawings made by students.

An unusual school. On the roof like a spaceship

— We are very proud — says Director Natalia Lavrinenko. — You know, watch the news, all bad as usual, but here is the really good news: the school was opened by the Observatory.

In the middle of the Central staircase of the fourth floor is a metal staircase abutting the white plastic door. Behind the door — an inspirational lift to the Observatory. Inspiring, because the walls hung posters with achievements of mankind. Here is the landing on the moon; and a stand dedicated to the Ukrainian astronauts, and rockets “Yuzhmash”; and the words of Stephen Hawking on the goal of understanding the Universe, its structure and the role of man (“My goal is very simple. I want to understand the Universe, why it is arranged so as arranged, and why we are here”). And of course the famous Zhytomyr: a designer and engineer Sergei Korolev, researcher of gravitational waves and a Professor at Cardiff University Leonid Grishchuk.

— The uniqueness of the project that had to make additional extensions and expect things, at least in Zhitomir, previously, engineers were not calculated. The staircase that leads to the class of the Observatory, is a new building, it was not there before. Understood the piece of roof below it all add, — says Natalya Wiluna until we rise.

Posters in the hallways. Students happily draw the Solar system and stars, writing about the galaxy

In addition to scientific posters on the walls are paintings depicting the fantastic landscapes of other worlds. They wrote… a teacher of English and German language specifically for the Observatory.

Class — a small room for seven “seats”. On the wall screen for the projector. On the shelves, atlases, scientific literature, the model rocket. Hung around educational astronomy posters. In the middle of a steep metal staircase leading upstairs. The computers United in a network with one of the classes of Informatics, so can simultaneously engage dozens of children.

The alien landscape. It was drawn by the teacher

— We literally met the stars — smiles Natalia Lavrinenko. — The Director of the school was formerly Valentin Arendarchuk, when it began to talk about repairing the facade of the school. And above is a turret. Previously, it used a fire — to high-rise buildings here was the highest point. In the 1950s there was a gravity point was measured by the attraction of the Earth and made a grid of the city. But that was long ago, and then the question arose: what to do with it? Disassemble hard, the school was built in 1937, very strong concrete structure, the roof can be corrupt. So I decided to renovate and to create an Observatory. Literally as soon as Valentin Vasilyevich idea to the city Council and the mayor introduced — coincidentally, he was offered the post of head of the Department of education. So thanks to the city and built.

In the school hall. On the stand — all the information about the hardware that is in the Observatory

Created the Observatory for literally a year or two. Six months hatched the idea for another six months, we calculated, for the reconstruction of the attic, the completion of the stairs and other repair work. Parallel to the purchased equipment: projectors, telescopes, computers, camera. And here already the first results: on the table are pictures of Saturn, Venus and the moon, made at this Observatory.

— Rough construction works. Drove huge crane to lift the concrete slab, he almost toppled, recalls Lavrinenko.

— Yes, with a maximum weight of six tons, the stove weighed almost five and a half, — said the Deputy Director of Alexander Datsun. — Reinforced concrete, there were even problems — drill is impossible, nothing will hang.

Steep staircase. Kids are not allowed here

The walls here are really monumental: exactly the same as in the object “skelia”, the command post of Korosten fortified area, the most powerful fortification building in the region.
Go up the stairs, then another, and finally get into the Holy of holies: the very Observatory. Moving the dome with sliding doors, smelling the fresh tree platform, and on it, a thick cylinder of the telescope, carefully covered with polyethylene: installation work of the dome is not yet completed, not enough brushes, which would have blocked light snow in the room. This “Celestron”, GPS and 40 thousand objects in memory: stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and constellations. On a special remote (looks like an old phone) to drive the desired celestial body, and the motor rotates the cylinder in the desired direction. Then it is already adjusted to the dome.

The view from the turrets. Before there was gravity point

— The main thing — to catch the weather. We started to work since January 16, before the official opening. And during all this time a normal clear sky was four times, — makes a helpless gesture Alexander of Datsun. On Friday the good weather, ran, debugged, caught Venus, and then clouds. Sitting and laughing, saying that it was necessary at seven thirty in the evening to run to the cloud to see.

— Yes, I came last night, I think the sky is cool stuff. Just plug in, and then the next TC turned all the lights you know, it’s observation — laughing teacher of astronomy, physics and Informatics Oleg Baginsky. — Although the telescope is good, you can see some stars, and even the Andromeda galaxy.

Remote. Control of the telescope

All in cost of 1,3 million hryvnias. The bulk of the money is eaten renovation and all the equipment should… of 250 thousand UAH. About as budget cars of the Ukrainian production. That’s up to the officials, the teachers say that it is better to buy the Lanos or to help children to understand the beauty of science.

By the way, the first fruits are already visible: the victory at the festival “Open space”, the second place of intelide “We korolevtsy”. Under awards allocated a special wall.

Of course, everything is just beginning. Not even painted until the end of the training sessions. Astronomy study of the 11-graders — they scheduled it should be. The other children go in circles: there is a program for young, for those who are older. If children see colorful scientific films, the 8-graders are learning the constellations and their location in the night sky.

Young astronomers. I want to see how the space looks from space and feel the weightlessness

— ‘re on a special map you need to figure out when in our sky appears a bright star or a constellation, it shows on the screen, Ivan. They boys Tributes and Frank, just go to the club, I think that is “cool” and want to “open a new star”. I also dream to visit a large Observatory and may even contribute to the development of astronomy in the future. Might see a dangerous asteroid. Or even find the proverbial “Ninth Planet”, which is hiding in the Oort Cloud.

— Got acquainted with the map of the sky, says Dan. For example, take a photo and draw on it all the constellations, — the mouse connects the dots to form familiar shapes. That’s The Big Dipper. Here’s a little taster — it is necessary to hold an imaginary line to the North star.

Planetarium. Shows the major constellations

Here Gemini, Orion’s belt, the three major stars they are easy to find. Generally easier to focus on the Big and little dipper. To the right is Perseus, below the lion.
Remember about flying on Mars.

— I dream to fly into space. It’s very scary, but cool, extremely. I want to see how the space looks from space. To feel the weightlessness, says Dan. — In General, my childhood was a telescope, but gave it to my brother and he used it instead of batons…

On computers and tablets guys different programs-the planetarium. And Space Engine that allows you to literally fly from star to star; and Google Sky. They know the addresses of sites containing useful information and spread out the map of our system. And preparing for the future: now that the school has an Observatory, we need prizes to prove to everyone that she’s not in vain. Perhaps in the future, the school will more powerful telescope that allows you to work in the daytime and in any weather. Perhaps one of them will open a new dwarf planet or a star. Meantime, one can directly in the classroom to see line up close to Venus, Mars and Uranus.

The map of the sky. These on the computers of guys

So far, however, big science this is not: in the Observatory, giving tours, going to inter-school club, job, overall organizational, not research. Plus hours of material for future lessons. That’s how science works: nothing is done unceremoniously, most of the time falls on the organizational activities. However, new pictures appear, and to the Day of Astronautics, the school announced “cosmic contest”: children writing an essay about the Solar system and the stars, and the winners of the first stage will be to solve various problems. “We are working — says Oleg Baginsky — accumulating practice, because the bare theory have become”.

Natalia Lavrinenko. Proud of the Observatory