March/April 1995 Table of Contents
1995 Astronomical Society of the Pacific
is more than a deciphering of nature. It is proof that humans can
work together to build a better future. It is proof that those with
minds can hold together what those with guns would destroy.
Zdravko Stipcevic, University of Mississippi
carry on as usual" has been the persistent motto of the University
of Sarajevo throughout the past three years of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It does not imply that all normal activities -- before the war,
the university had an average enrollment of 23,000 -- could continue
unaffected. Instead, it reflects a deep conviction that keeping
the teaching process uninterrupted, in defiance of all the misery,
deprivation, destruction, and danger that life in the besieged city
entails, is a matter of utmost importance for the survival of the
multiethnic Bosnian society. And the motto has been strictly adhered
to: the courses given, the exams held, the faculty meetings conducted.
now bears little resemblance to a city that was once a model of
physical beauty. During the worst periods of siege, hundreds of
mortar shells would daily pound the city, and intermittent sniper
fire at the city's intersections took its deadly toll. The intention
to create chaotic conditions has been part of the psychological
warfare implemented by the besieger against the city. It was carried
out systematically, disrupting in sequence: television relays, telephone
and postal services, tramways, bus lines, electricity, water and
gas, university buildings, public libraries, food convoys.
the city's spirit was not broken. At the very beginnings of the
war people used to spend days and nights in shelters and didn't
dare go outside. Afterwards they became used to danger. Elementary
and secondary schools and the university continued teaching, and
even though students and teachers make up a substantial portion
of the 10,000 civilians who fell as victims to snipers and shelling,
the daily routine of attending classes persisted. This unbending
resolve may in part be attributed to the irrepressible human craving
for normal-life activities, but more so to a firm belief that education
and culture, with their devotion to excellence and high ethical
norms, comprise essential ingredients in maintaining and reinvigorating
the multicultural value system, thus paving the way toward future
peace and reconciliation.
is somebody out there, behind a window in one of the high-rises
on the other side of Miljacka river, or in the hills overcooking
the city, and who is now taking aim at me, trying to kill me although
I have done no harm to anybody?" It is a persistent question
crossing the mind of those who run across the city's road crossings.
The international media would attribute the motive to the centuries-old
tribal hatreds and interpret the situation as a civil war based
on ethnic and religious intolerance. But the people of Sarajevo
provide an incontrovertible example that it is not so, that such
an assessment is fabrication. In the beleaguered Sarajevo, one does
not feel intolerance; in fact, the constant shelling brought the
people, regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic backgrounds,
more closely together. The common misery enhanced the feeling of
empathy and appreciation of culture. Despite countless obstacles
some of the concerts, theater shows, and social events that took
place in the war-ravaged city rank among its highest cultural achievements.
is one baffling aspect pertaining to the university. Quite a few
members of the breakaway Bosnian Serb leadership, whose forces now
keep Sarajevo in a deadly stranglehold, are former faculty members
of the University of Sarajevo, some of them holding prominent positions
for many years. We all lived nicely together, many entering into
mixed marriages, totally unaware of any latent intolerance. What
prompted these former colleagues to abandon the imperative of "not
doing to your neighbors what you would not like to have done onto
you"? Pondering over that, one concedes that different social
groups do see some specific political events in a different light,
for example a nation's desire for sovereignty as an act of secession,
a declaration of independence as betrayal. Accordingly, different
political goals may be propounded, within democratically acceptable
strategies. But to have chosen, instead, to implant an ideology
of hatred and wage a war that has caused catastrophic suffering
of the innocent, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions
displaced, this is beyond comprehension.
war in Bosnia is essentially a war against civilians, against an
urban population and its culture. The present level of interethnic
intolerance, practiced as "ethnic cleansing," is the result
of indoctrination, of conscious manipulation aimed for transient
use. Nationalistic ideology, which by exciting the unconscious archetypal
symbols and by invoking historical myths introduced the ethnical
"exclusion principle," subsequently resulted in expulsions,
detentions, and over 200,000 dead.
future of Bosnian society crucially depends on its ability to dispel
the indoctrinated misconceptions that life together, among ethnically
different people, is impossible. Education is the key to the success
of this mission and the university, as the highest institution of
learning and the vehicle of international scientific cooperation,
has a special role in this. If, by consistent adherence to multicultural
values, combined with efforts toward reestablishing the international
funding for scientific research and organizing international scientific
conferences in Sarajevo, the university succeeds in getting across
the message that human beings can and should cooperatively coexist,
then prospects for a better future, in spite of the tragic amount
of endured suffering, may not be hopelessly bleak.
is a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of
Sarajevo. His research is in theoretical high-energy physics. He
was the director of the Institute of Physics in Sarajevo and made
numerous appearances on television and radio to promote physics
education. Stipcevic spent the first two years of the war in the
besieged city and is currently at the University of Mississippi.
With a group of American physicists, he is organizing an international
physics conference to be held in Sarajevo. His family is still living
in the city. His email address is email@example.com.
It May Concern:
is well known, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is for several
years the victim of brutal aggression. The purpose of this letter
is to inform you about the situation in astronomy and the Astronomical
Observatory in Sarajevo before the aggression and at the present
in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long tradition originating mainly
in the need of different religions to measure the time. It was customary
to use the various instruments such as astrolabe quadrants, almucantar
quadrants, and sinical quadrants. Later, the large number of clock
towers that appeared were used as the first places for astronomical
observations. There are the numerous manuscripts on bright comets,
meteors, eclipses, and so forth. Modern astronomy began in the early
'60s when the first Astronomical Society in Bosnia and Herzegovina
was founded. A group of enthusiasts from the society built the first
and the only observatory in the republic in the period 1968 to 1982.
The observatory is placed on the mountain of Trebevic in the close
neighborhood of Sarajevo. Before the Serbian aggression on the Republic
of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the observatory in Sarajevo had the following
Two buildings with an approximate area of 1,000 square meters.
Three domes of diameters 3, 5 and 8 meters.
Telescope reflector of Cassegrain type with diameter 62 centimeters.
Telescope reflector of Cassegrain type with diameter 40 centimeters.
Twin astrograph with wide-field cameras and Cassegrain telescope
with diameter 21.5 centimeters.
Two photoelectric photometers with UBV and Stromgren filters.
Several smaller refractors and reflectors.
Photo laboratory with complete equipment.
Library with about 2,500 books and more than 10,000 journals.
Palomar Observatory sky survey.
the first attacks on the city of Sarajevo, the observatory was completely
destroyed. All instruments and most of the books and accessories
have been destroyed including the glass library with more than 9x12
centimeter glass plates containing the complete records of the sky
north of declination -10 in the period 1972 to 1978.
the last 20 years our observatory, as the only institution of this
kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoted both amateur and professional
activities in the field of astronomy. Many generations of students,
mainly youngsters, passed our courses, summer schools, and other
forms of education. In the last 10 years we worked in the field
of photoelectric photometry of Be and shell stars. The observations
have been carried out in collaboration with the Hvar Observatory
in Croatia and Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic. Using
two cameras with fisheye objectives, the registration of fireballs
has been performed, as a part of the project of forming the broader
net in the former Yugoslavia. In collaboration with University of
Sarajevo the training of the students of geodesy, physics and others
Astronomical Observatory in Sarajevo was the largest publisher of
astronomical literature in the former Yugoslavia, with more 30 titles
in last two decades. One of the authors from Sarajevo (myself) is
the most productive author in the history of astronomy in the former
spite of the fact that the observatory has been destroyed and the
life in Sarajevo is extremely difficult, we have the strong intention
to renew the astronomical activities here. The lunar-phases calendar
for 1993 has been released and one of us has written two astronomical
books, which are waiting the release and the money to be published.
With the help of our colleagues in Zagreb, we obtained some offers
for getting our new telescope. We truly hope to get a computerized
telescope with diameter of 60 centimeters whose price is about $350,000.
To achieve this goal some aid from the astronomical institutions,
International Astronomical Union, and all interested persons is
necessary. It should be noted that the only two professional astronomers
are still in Sarajevo as well as majority of the amateurs who helped
our opinion the above mentioned aid could be performed in the following
This letter should be circulated to as many interested persons
and institutions as possible. So, we kindly ask anyone who get
this letter to circulate it to all subjects that find appropriate.
Unfortunately we can send only very limited number of copies.
It would be necessary to help the existing astronomers here to
survive (please see the end of this letter).
It would be necessary to start collecting the books and the journals
that can be donated to our observatory. Please, send this kind
of information to our contact address given at the end of this
It would be necessary to start collecting the donations for renewing
the observatory as well as getting new telescope. We ask for advice
in this regard especially from IAU or from some other institution
of that level.
order to execute any of these requests some essential information
is needed. Sarajevo is in total informative blockade. It is impossible
to communicate over the phone or directly by mail. All our letters
and packages must be sent through the humanitarian organizations
all our correspondence will circulate through Zagreb. In this time
the very modest donation will be substantial help in supporting
the two professional astronomers here. Here in Sarajevo, we are
surviving from humanitarian aid, which covers not more than 30 percent
of the person's needs. As an example, the average monthly salary
of those who obtain it is $3-5, which is enough for one can of beef
or fish on the black market. So, the donations of few dozens of
dollars can be of great help at this moment. We know that this kind
of solidarity works well in the case of some professions such as
mathematicians, journalists, and writers.
this moment the only safe way to send the money donations is through
Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt/M, Germany to the name Muhamed Muminovic,
P.Toljatija 134, Sarajevo, Account 936 2369, Privredna Banka Sarajevo
DD. We kindly ask all subjects who send their donations in this
way to send the copy of the bank record to our contact address in
Zagreb to keep records in order. The aid in food that is very welcomed
seems to be impossible at this moment in view of transportation
contact address is:
Dr. Kresimir Pavlovski
Faculty of Geodesy
University of Zagreb
Phone: (385) (1) 461279
Fax: (385) (1) 445410
ideas, advice, and any kind of help are welcome. We truly count
on the humanity and solidarity of the astronomers of the world.
you in advance.
Muminovic, Director, Astronomical Observatory, Sarajevo
George Musser, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
in many countries, modern astronomy in Bosnia started with a single
individual. Around the turn of the century, a high-school student
in Pale, near Sarajevo, built himself a small telescope. The student,
Branimir Truhelka, went on to study physics in Vienna and astronomy
at the Pulkovo Observatory near St. Petersburg in Russia, once considered
the astronomical capital of the world. On his return to Bosnia,
Truhelka taught at a high school in Tuzla, where he continued his
research on light dispersion and lobbied the Bosnian government
for a small observatory in Tuzla. He died in 1945, never realizing
his plans for an observatory in Sarajevo.
cause was taken up again in the 1960s by Bosnian amateur astronomers,
mostly university and high-school students. They founded the Astronomical
Society of the University of Sarajevo in 1963 and built the People's
Observatory, with a 17-centimeter (7-inch) reflector, in 1965. By
1973, amateurs had converted an old Austro-Hungarian fortress into
the largest amateur observatory in Yugoslavia, Colina Kapa. The
observatory was located at an altitude of 1010 meters (3310 feet)
on Mount Trebevic, 12 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of downtown.
Its twin domes housed the double astrograph that made the first
Yugoslav photographic atlas in the mid-1970s.
many amateurs elsewhere, the Sarajevans advanced to the point that
the term "amateur" no longer applied to them. The 65-centimeter
(24-inch) Newtonian-Cassegrain reflector and photoelectric photometer
they installed in the early 1980s were professional-level equipment.
The observatory hosted the fourth conference of Yugoslav astronomers
in October 1979. The Sarajevans participated in the epsilon Aurigae
monitoring campaign and collaborated with Czech and Croatian professionals
during the 1980s. In 1990, the observatory had a staff of five continuing
to work on photometry.
in Yugoslavia boomed in popularity during the late 1970s and early
1980s. New amateur clubs sprang up; secondary schools and the university
taught astronomy courses; people from all over the country joined
the Sarajevo-based astronomical society. Sarajevan amateurs assembled
a library, organized seminars, and spoke to school groups. The society
published 30 books, making it the most prolific publisher of astronomical
literature in the country. Most Yugoslav astronomy magazines tended
to be either too technical or too populist, but the Sarajevan journal,
Astro Amateur, tried to strike a balance.
1992, the Astronomical Observatory of Sarajevo was used by Bosnian
Serb tanks for target practice, and demolished.
article was assembled from reports by Bratislav Curcic, Ales Dolzan,
Jasminko Mulaomerovic, Muhamed Muminovic, and Vladis Vujnovic.
Pavlovski of the University of Zagreb in Croatia has agreed to act
as contact person for the Astronomical Obseratory of Sarajevo. His
email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solidarity Project at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. is
collecting donations to buy books, journals, and equipment for the
University of Sarajevo. The project director, William Hunt, is also
looking for volunteers to teach for a month in Sarajevo, living
with a local family. His email address is email@example.com.
for Sarajevo in Lyon, France organizes shipments of pedagogical
materials and conducts workshops for Bosnian students and teachers.
Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Society Fund of the Soros Foundation in New York has provided
computers, scholarships, and Internet connections via satellite.
The fund finances visits by foreign lecturers through the Civic
Education Project at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. The email
addresses are email@example.com
Bosnia-Herzegovina InfoTech Society needs modems, even 2400 baud
ones, and other computer equipment for the Internet connections,
the only channel of communication for many Sarajevans. For more
information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Bosnian Student Project has placed more than 50 students at American
secondary schools and universities. For more information, contact
Doug Hostetter, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, N.Y.
1. A classroom in Sarajevo. The city has 40 elementary schools;
they shut their doors when the siege began in April 1992, but gradually
reopened. The Open Society Fund, supported by billionaire investor
George Soros, is now repairing war-damaged school buildings. Teachers
are using drawing, discussion, and games to help children to work
through their war anxiety. Photo by Gilles Peress, Class, Sarajevo,
1993. Reproduced with permission. The book Farewell to Bosnia displays
more of Peress's work.
2. The Astronomical Observatory of Sarajevo. The observatory is
a converted Austro-Hungarian fortress on Mount Trebevic, near the
Olympic bobsled run. The newer dome on the left was built by amateurs
in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy of Velimir Vujnovic, Institute
of Physics, Zagreb, Croatia.
3. Title page of the conference proceedings of the fourth conference
of Yugoslav astronomers, hosted by the Astronomical Observatory
of Sarajevo in October 1979. Title page courtesy of the Science
Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
4. "Nobody can stop time and the evil the adults talk about
will pass. When the time comes it will take me to the city."
Anel, 6, lived in Prijedor. He and his parents survived the first
wave of attacks and then left to seek refuge in Croatia. Half of
the schoolchildren surveyed by Renko Djapic, a psychology professor
at the University of Sarajevo, said they were convinced they would
be killed. Drawing courtesy of Medecines Sans Frontieres.