Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics

A Brief History

The Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics was established in 1982, when the amendment 1268/1982 was approved by the Greek Parliament. It is one of the five Sections of the Department of Physics of the Aristotle Univerity of Thessaloniki. It consists of two independent and closely collaborating units, of The Laboratory of Astronomy and the Division of Mechanics. The current Director of the Section is Assoc. Professor Nikolaos Stergioulas.

Laboratory of Astronomy

The Laboratory of Astronomy, or as it used to be known "The Department of Astronomy", was founded in 1943, four (4) years after the foundation of the Chair of Astronomy at the University of Thessaloniki. The Observatory, the building that hosts the Laboratory of Astronomy, was inaugurated in 1961. The first Director and founder of the Laboratory was the Academician John Xanthakis. He was succeded by Professor and, later Academician, George Contopoulos, and by Professor Basil Barbanis. Professor Sotirios Persides also served as Director, succeeded by Prof. Spyrou. Currently, the Director of the Laboratory of Astronomy is Professor John H. Seiradakis. Today the scientific personnel of the Laboratory of Astronomy consists of nine (8) Members of Staff and severalPostgraduate Students and post-doctoral researshers. The research activities undertaken by the above staff include "General Theory of Relativity", "Astrophysics (Classical and Relativistic)", "Dynamical Astronomy", "Cosmology" and "Observational Astronomy". More than 400 scientific papers have been published by the members of the Laboratory in international refereed journals. The scientific, teaching and other activities of the members of the Laboratory are published in its Annual Report.

The Laboratory's 50th anniversary was officially celebrated in May 1993. Details can be found in the volume "50th Anniversary of the Laboratory of Astronomy" (eds. B.S. Barbanis, N.K. Spyrou), Publications of the Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki, 1994.

Division of Mechanics

The current scientific personnel of the Division of Mechanics, or as it used to be known “The Department of Theoretical Mechanics”, consists of five (5) Members of Staff and several Postgraduate Students. The research activities undertaken by the above staff concentrate mainly on "Dynamical Astronomy". Currently the Director of the Division of Mechanics is Professor Harry Varvoglis.

Instrumentation and Facilities

The Laboratory of Astronomy operates a 20-cm refracting telescope (made by Secretan, Paris) in a rotating 6-m diameter dome. It is equipped with auxiliary telescopes, monochromatic Lyot filters, a 3-m radio telescope, a photographic dark room, a microdensitometer, teaching facilities, professional charts, and atlases of the sky. It is linked to the "outside world" via a modern computer network consisting of several workstations and personal computers. Its members of staff also operate a 30-inch Cassegrain reflector at the Stephanion Observatory, near Corinth in southern Greece. Currently there is as ongoing initiative of the Section aiming at the installation of a Radio Telescope in Greece.

50 years of the Observatory

On the occasion of the 50 years since the opening of the Observatory, a special volume was published. You can download it here (in Greek only: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 - each file is about 3MB).

75 years of the Faculty of Sciences

A recent description of the activities of our section has been published in a special volume for the 75 years of the Faculty of Sciences. You can download it here (in Greek only).