Many astronomy enthusiasts around the world are well-aware of large observatories such as those on the Hawaiian Islands, the Canaries, or the high Andes in Chile. They serve professional astronomers to observe and detect phenomena at the very edge of the known universe.
But in order for someone to become an astronomer, most often love for the sky infects him while they are still in elementary school. Especially if they have a chance to look through a telescope at a young age or even stay for a while at an observatory, even a small, amateur one.
One such amateur educational observatory in Croatia is the one in Zvjezdano selo Mosor, or roughly the Mosor Star village, ten kilometers from the city of Split. It is easily reached by asphalt road by car or by a Split public transport bus. From the observatory, from a height of about seven hundred meters, there is a wonderful view of Split and the surrounding area below, and the starry sky - above.
“This facility is a scientific institution with the primary role of an observatory. However, besides being an observatory, it has educational, cultural and artistic contents for children of the lowest age to the university level, and for citizens of Split and visitors to the city. This is an excursion point at 1000 meters above sea level. Now we are thinking about EU funds that could help us reach a higher level of offer, thus enabling the arrival of experts and scientists from around the world. Here we have telescopes, not just one major telescope in the dome, but we also have several smaller telescopes, with the help of which we educate teachers and professors so that children get basic information about. Much human effort has been invested here, now we need a higher level and quality of offer, we don't want to beg, but to provide relevant content, we want investment into a capital facility such as the observatory on Mosor,” says Goran Sučić, a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Split and a member of the board of directors of the Mosor Star Village.
The Mosor Star Village is run by an association that organizes a small school of astronomy for schoolchildren, winter, spring and summer astronomy schools, a school of meteorology, a school in nature, lectures, seminars, and of course observation. The goals of the organizers and leaders are to improve the quality of life of young people and stimulate creativity in them, which also significantly reduces the tendency towards asocial and addictive behaviour.
“The Split Technical Culture Community is the umbrella technical culture association that brings together 18 technical culture associations, namely astronomy, sailing, diving, modelling clubs, robotics, a photo club, a cinema club, innovator associations, an astro-archeological research association and others. One of the associations of technical culture community is the Mosor Star Village, which until recently was the technical culture center. On this trail, the Mosor Star Village, together with the technical culture community of the city of Split, has been organizing a school of technical activities during the winter, spring and summer school holidays. These schools usually last for about 5 days, where about 15 students reside here, sleep and work under the supervision of a mentor from the technical culture association. Usually these are workshops in astronomy, modelling, and the biggest is observation of the night sky with the telescope under the large dome,” explains Tomislav Nikolić, the Secretary of the Mosor Star Village Association.
Nikolić notes that around 300 elementary and secondary school students attend their workshops each year during summer holidays, from throughout Croatia. He added that another significant project they conduct at the Mosor Star village, and which has become a sort of brand for them, is the nature school. More than 20 thousand elementary and secondary school students attended their nature school in the last 18 years, from throughout Croatia and beyond.
“It is essentially an educational excursion where students have an interactive working day, where for students from the lower grades in elementary schools we teach the Croatian language, mathematics and nature, while for students from the higher elementary school grades and from secondary schools we also have geography, history and physics. The building itself covers an area of 640 m2 and consists of several halls, classrooms and dormitories. Last year, we set a record of attendance, with 1002 visitors attending the Night of Museums program alone. But the Mosor Star Village is primarily an astronomical association. The Citizens Observatory is open from 3pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, until midnight in the summer, and everyone is welcome to observe everything visible in the night sky under expert supervision,” says Nikolić.
So, if your trip takes you to Split, be sure to visit the Mosor Mountain, more specifically it’s Star Village near Žrnovnica and Gornje Sitno and spend a cloud less night there.
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