Visiting a small village with a large scope!
Moletai Travel Blog› entry 11 of 13 › view all entries
MolÄ—tai is a small and cosy city in north eastern Lithuania and one of the oldest settlements in Lithuania; it is a popular weekend resort for the inhabitants of Vilnius. The village has about 7.000 inhabitants. The town is located about 60 km north of Vilnius and 30 km south of Utena. It was first mentioned as a private property of the bishop of Vilnius.
In modern times the city has MolÄ—tai Astronomical Observatory, the only of such facility in Lithuania. Astronomical observations require dark and clear sky. The old Astronomical observatory of Vilnius University, opened in 1753, and the new University observatory near the Vingis Park, built in 1921, gradually appeared inside the Vilnius city with no conditions for astronomical observations.
The observatory belongs to the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy (hereafter ITPA). It is the main observing place for the professional astronomers, students and postgraduate students from ITPA, Vilnius University and Vilnius Pedagogical University perform.
Lithuanian astronomers participate in a number of international projects, including CCD photometry of stars in galactic fields and star clusters, surface photometry of galaxies and their population studies, photometry of variable stars and oscillating white dwarfs, development of new methods of the photometric determination of temperatures, luminosities, metallicities and peculiarity types of stars. Together with American and Danish astronomers, a new version of the Vilnius system, so-called Stromvil system, has been developed.
Every year hundreds of excursions are visiting the observatory. The visitors get information about achievements of the world and Lithuanian astronomy; take a look at the telescopes and their equipment. They also have a lecture, illustrated by wonderful photographs of various sky objects: planets, stars, nebulas, star clusters and galaxies, accompanied by space music. On the southern wall of the observatory a sundial is mounted. Near the telescope domes an exhibition of the sacred mythological stones is presented. These stones with dish-like cavities hundreds of years ago were used to collect and keep the sacred water of Perkunas, the pagan thunder god. The interior of the observatory is decorated with the stained-glass windows on the astronomical topics. The Lithuanian Ethnocosmological museum is situated on the nearby Kapeliai hill.