Fête de Science 2022. Culture, education and a tribute to French-Romanian cooperation in astronomy

On the 22nd of November 2022, the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy (AIRA) was invited to a new edition of the cultural event Fête de Science, organized by the French Institute in Romania. The organizers of this event allocated us the beautiful Atrium hall of their headquarters in Bucharest, in order to display all the patrimonial objects and scientific hardware that were brought there by our Institute’s team.

At the beginning of the event, H.E. Ms. Laurence Auer, the Ambassador of France in Romania and Dr. Mirel Bîrlan, Director of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, gave speeches to the audience regarding the French-Romanian scientific cooperation in the field of astronomy.

The classical lines of the Atrium Hall where the event took place, were complemented by some of the most interesting patrimonial values of Romania that we displayed there, which formed a small astronomical exhibition. Among these marvels, was the old refractory telescope Bardou, produced in France and used in Bucharest by the Romanian astronomers since 1893. From the early pioneers of the modern Romanian astronomy like Constantin Căpităneanu, to those well known of the present days, this telescope has seen many great personalities of the Romanian astronomy, among all the stars it has seen in the Universe. And, indeed, at Fête de Science 2022, it was Dr. Mirel Bîrlan the one who offered explanations to the audience about this emblematic telescope of Romania and its historical scientific context. Nearby in the exhibition hall, Dr. Alin Nedelcu installed a MOROI/FRIPON all-sky camera in a closed-circuit on a large TV screen, and offered scientific details on the capabilities and integration of these sleepless scientific electronic eyes and AI software modules that watch 24/24 hours the sky of Romania.

Dr. Diana Ionescu introduced the visitors to the astronomical research area of the physics of the Sun, by using theoretical and practical demonstrations. Other scientists of AIRA - Mădălina Trelia and Tavi Blagoi engaged the public in discussions about the research and study of the various types of objects in the Universe, from asteroids to distant stars and intergalactic nebulae. The scaled down replica of the Hubble telescope built by Tavi, was highly appreciated by everyone.

In the background, the mechanical, electro-mecanical and electronic calculating machines we included in the exhibition, were used by the AIRA’s historian Sorin Marin to tell the story of the mathematical requirements of knowledge, speed and precision met by generations of Romanian astronomers as well as by many others in the whole world.

A special guest at the event was Dr. Magda Stavinschi, Honorary Researcher and a former Director of AIRA. Our team also included the technical engineer Nicolae Dociu, who assisted every logistical aspect done during this event.

AIRA's educational team participated to Fête de Science/The Festival of Science, 2022
Academia Română, Sediul Central. Observarea eclipsei parțiale de Soare, 25 octombrie 2022. Foto credit: Amalia Alexandru

Eclipsa parțială de Soare observată de la Sediul Central al Academiei Române

Marți, 25 octombrie 2022, Institutul Astronomic a participat la organizarea unei sesiuni ghidate de observații astronomice ale eclipsei parțiale de Soare, vizibilă și din România. Evenimentul a avut loc la Sediul Central al Academiei Române din Calea Victoriei nr. 125, în intervalul orar 12-15, Timp Legal Român. Organizarea a fost asigurată de Academia Română, prin Institutul Astronomic al Academiei Române, în parteneriat cu Astroclubul București.

Observațiile au fost făcute cu instrumente astronomice dotate cu filtre solare – un telescop Newton-Dobson de 200 mm diametru și o lunetă de 80 mm, precum și cu ochelari speciali pentru eclipsă. Orientarea vizitatorilor s-a realizat de către personalul științific al Institutului Astronomic al Academiei Române, în colaborare cu entuziaștii astronomi amatori ai Astroclubului București.

Explicații și îndrumări au fost oferite de Magda Stavinschi - cercetător onorific al Institutului Astronomic al Academiei Române, Mirel Bîrlan - Directorul Institutului Astronomic al Academiei Romane, Dan Alin Nedelcu, Diana Ionescu, Mădălina Trelia și Sorin Marin - personal de specialitate din cadrul aceluiași institut, dar și de Marian Naiman, Cristian Suciu, Victor Vasile și Melania Boicescu de la Astroclubul București.

La eveniment au participat personalul din structura centrală a Academiei Române precum și numeroși pasionați de astronomie și știință din rândurile publicului general.

AIRA's outreach team at Bucharest Science Festival & European Researchers' Night

The outreach team of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy (AIRA) recently participated to Bucharest Science Festival and to the European Researchers' Night educational events which took place in Bucharest and Măgurele.

Aiming to promote science education and astronomy knowledge for the general public, our Institute welcomed visitors inside AIRA's scientific and educational park, during Bucharest Science Festival 2022. The newest attraction of this edition at AIRA was the virtual trip to Pluto from the Equatorial Dome, a construction which is the home of the largest refractory telescope in Romania. Here, AIRA’s astronomy historian Sorin Marin, told visitors the story of our Prin-Merz telescope and its contribution in taking some of the first pictures of the dwarf planet Pluto ever made in the whole world. Walking on the astronomical footsteps of Clyde Tombaugh, the famous US astronomer who discovered Pluto, and of NASA's extraordinary New Horizons mission, the visitors could admire through a Full HD projection some of the best real pictures of this celestial body. Totally engulfed by Pluto’s blue halo as photographed by the electronic eyes of New Horizons back in 2015, the public of the Equatorial Dome had the chance to make a comparison between the pictures of Pluto as taken from the Earth and the fantastic images obtained from its proximity due to the success of the New Horizons mission.

Bucharest Science Festival 2022 at the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy also involved a visit inside the Sun Dome where the tour guides were our scientific researchers, Dr. Liliana Dumitru and Tavi Blagoi. The three Zeiss solar refractory telescopes of this dome were in use during the visits so the public could see the workflow and routine of the Romanian astronomers to scientifically monitor from Bucharest the spectacular activity of our near-by star, the Sun.

During the guided tours, our public had the chance to visit the Meridian Hall’s astronomy exhibition, and also to learn about the impressive historical legacy of the Bosianu House.

For the next two days following the Bucharest Science Festival 2022 event, AIRA's astronomy promoters moved to down-town Bucharest and to Măgurele city square in order to participate to another science fair, the European Researchers' Night 2022. There, our educational stand and telescopes gathered large crowds of people for almost 8 hours every day of the event, with long queues, enthusiasm and patience, for each person to have a glimpse to the filtered flares of our Sun, to Jupiter or to almost orbit over the craters and slopes of the Moon. For this event, the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy had a team of 8 promoters of science and astronomy. Tavi Blagoi, Dr. Liliana Dumitru and Dr. Dumitru Pricopi were the telescopes masters and Solar System explorers together with the gathered public, while other members of our scientific staff - Dr. Dan Alin Nedelcu, Dr. Diana Ionescu, Dr. Ioana Boacă, Mădălina Trelia and Sorin Marin, organized science experiments and debates at the AIRA stand and gave interviews to the press. During all three days of the events the weather was perfect and several celestial bodies of our Solar System were observed through our telescopes.

The outreach team of AIRA at Bucharest Science Festival & European Researchers' Night, 2022
Outcome for selected FRIPON-MOROI detections

Characterization of the Fireballs Detected by MOROI in Romania

The meteors recorded by all-sky cameras in Romania were analyzed in a paper recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. In this paper we study the meteors detected by the FRIPON network in Romania in the time period January 2021 – April 2022 with the use of the MOROI all-sky cameras. We focus on the events with noticeable deceleration (V_f/V_0<0.8 , where V_f is the velocity of the meteoroid at the end of the luminous trajectory and V_0 is the initial velocity of the meteoroid). We characterize the fireball events with the use of the the ballistic coefficient α and the mass-loss parameter β. Based on this analysis, the events are classified in three categories: 1) meteoroids that are likely to produce meteorites, 2) meteoroids that can possibly produce meteorites, 3) meteoroids that are unlikely to produce meteorites. We computed the entry and final mass of each event. We identified a meteoroid that is likely to produce a meteorite on the ground and we analysed its past dynamical evolution. The article is available in Open Access.

Contact ioana.boaca@astro.ro

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