maidanak observatory

maidanak observatory

Maidanak (or Maydanak) observatory is a part of the Kitab high-altitude astronomical observatory complex built in 1970. It is located on the western part of the Maidanak plateau, 45 km south of Shakhrisabz, on the mountain of Kitab, south from Kutab city. The total area of the observatory is approximately 32 hectares. The most important instruments of the observatory are modern mirror telescopes AZT-22 (with a mirror diameter of 1,5 meters) and a telescope by Carl Zeiss-Jena (with a mirror diameter of 1 meter). There are actually two separate observatory stations in the area and tourists can enter the western part where all civilian astronomical objects are located.

In the early 1970s the Maydanak observatory was operated as a Soviet laser examination satellite station. Although, Mirzo Ulugbek Astronomical Institute astronomers were allowed to continue astronomical observations using two 60-centimeter and one 48-centimeter telescope in the vicinity of the station. Meanwhile, the Astronomical Institute of Moscow State University named after Sternberg and several other institutions of the Soviet Union set up their astronomical objects on a nearby summit located 5 km west of Mount Maidanak. Since 1996 Maidanak Astronomical Observatory has been participating in several international observational and research programs. 

The work is carried out within the framework of bilateral agreements between Mirzo Ulugbek Astronomical Institute and Russian, Ukrainian, American, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and some other astronomical institutions. As the number of Maidanak Astronomical Observatory partners increased significantly by 2005, there was a real need to coordinate the programs and efforts of various organizations in the activities of the observatory. Today Misanak Observatory has become a truly international organization, whose scientific activities and priority topics are selected based on the coordination of the Maidanak user community. The community also plays an important role in providing Maidanak Astronomical Observation with tools and telescope upgrades. It also provides support in upgrading its infrastructure.

There are few places in the Northern Hemisphere where astronomical observations can be achieved with such clarity as here. The nights are clear and clean, which makes it possible to conduct a large number of observation programs. The Maidanak Observatory is unique due to its geographical location in the middle distance between the main astronomical objects of the world in the Canary Islands and Hawaii, as well as due to its high-quality atmospheric conditions (astroclimate). This makes Maidanak a particularly useful location for various observation programs that require constant monitoring of astrophysical objects. The number of clear hours at night and their distribution by seasons for the Maidanak observatory is typical for the Central Asian mountains. This is about 58% of the annual dark time or 2000 hours. It means that the summer observation capacity of the Maidanak Observatory is twice as high as in winter (about 90% in July and up to 50% in February). 

The Maidanak plateau is ideal for observing and studying the night sky, on the western peak of the plateau located another object – a military station. It operates in tracking spacecraft. The weather conditions on the plateau are quite harsh as it is suitable for the high-mountain environment. The wind blows here and it is rather cold in winter, while in summer it is difficult to sustain the sun with its abnormally burning rays.

More information from Maidanak observatory official site.

Other sights and destinations near Maidanak observatory

Page updated 3.1.2021

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