State Counsellor of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev and Rector of Kazan Federal University Ilshat Gafurov served as the moderators of the opening session on 3rd December at Kazan City Hall.
Mintimer Shaimiev touched on the history of UNESCO World Heritage related to astronomy. In particular, a conference with the same name was conducted at Kazan University in 2009. During that event, the question of adding observatories to heritage lists was raised for the first time. At another UNESCO conference in Kazan in 2017, the initiative was supported by Director-General Irina Bokova. Mr. Shaimiev also reminded that an expert commission has started to collect a nomination dossier to include the KFU Engelhardt Observatory into the World Heritage List.
In his introductory speech, Rector Ilshat Gafurov reminded that KFU has an extensive infrastructure for astronomical research, comprising objects in various parts of Russia and Turkey.
“On the 1.5-meter telescope in Turkey, research is conducted within the framework of the Spektr-RG project. Kazan University is also engaged in numerous projects with NASA, Max Planck Institute, National Observatory of Japan, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, State Astronomical Institute of Moscow State University, and the institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences – Institute of Space Research, Institute of Astronomy, and Special Astrophysical Observatory. Our astronomers have given their names to 10 Lunar craters, two comets, and six small planets,” said he.
The University now works on establishing the Center for Space Research and Technology and the Astropark Education Center. KFU Planetarium (named after the now late cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov) will be an essential part of this infrastructure.
As for the nomination dossier, there are pretty good prospects for it to be successful.
As Gudrun Wolfschmidt, President of Commission C4 World Heritage and Astronomy of the International Astronomical Union, noted, “The architecture of Kazanian observatories is unbelievably interesting. You can find all the criteria of authenticity, single style of the complex, and its outstanding universal value. It’s also very important that the observatories are currently functioning.”
Source text: Alina Iskanderova
Photos: Nikita Tokhtasinov
Translation: Yury Nurmeev