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The head of the Lviv Astronomical Society Liubov Yankiv-Vitkovska: scientists in love with the Sun

Did you know that there is the public institution of scientists and astronomers in Lviv, which members can answer on any questions about space? Before International Astronomy Day, which is celebrated by the world on 7th of May, the head of the Lviv Astronomical Society (LAS), associate professor of department of Higher Geodesy and Astronomy IGD Liubov Yankiv-Vitkovska told us about this “star” Society, own experience of scientific editing of the children’s book and initiative of creating of Astronomical Educational Union on Facebook.

— Liubov Mykhailivna, please tell what kind of organisation is it- the Lviv Astronomical Society?

— At the end of nineties in the scientists environment of department of Astrophysics and Astronomical observatory in Ivan Franko NUL the idea formed to unite into the public institution for popularisation of astronomy as a science about space, scientists’ support, who work at researches of this themes, and also in order to interest and prepare future students among high school pupils. Representatives of departments of Engineering Geodesy, Higher Geodesy and Astronomy of Lviv Polytechnic are members of officially registered Lviv INGO too. Equally with famous scientist of field there are students and just amateurs in our rows. Four times a year we organise arrangements for important astronomical dates — winter and summer solstice, vernal and autumnal equinox. These are seminars, educational competitions, conferences on astronomical topics, which take place in Polytechic, Ivan Franko NUL or Lviv schools. We often come out in mass media, explaining scientifically certain astronomical phenomena, which interest Lviv residents. Last year we announced the next competition: we offered pupils to come up with a poem or a tongue-twister, first letter of which would conform to first letters of names of the solar system planets. Such task of the LAS was already announced in 1999, but now Pluto is not considered a planet of the solar system, that is why “formula of memorizing” should also be changed. A ten-year-girl gained the first place, who came up with: “Mouse (Mercury) Varka (Venus) Again (Earth) Draws (Mars) Julia (Jupiter) Blue (Saturn) Smiling (Uranus) Rhino (Neptune)”.

— Are there many participants of the LAS? Who do you call amateurs?

— Almost all Ukrainian scientists and astronomers belong to all-Ukrainian Astrological and Geodetic Society, which branches are in different cities. Therefore we do not aim many members in the LAS: 20-30 persons are usually the most active in the organisation. Different people join the Society: doctors, entrepreneurs, different people, who are keen on astronomy and somewhere heard about the LAS. They take part in our seminars or conferences, share their theories. Once the doctor told how solar activity influences on patient’s state. Interesting are stories about musical compositions, which are dedicated to space events. Two years ago there were participants of our seminar pensioners and students of University of the Third Age. They put down and ventilate later their memories about that time, when Yuri Gagarin flew into space.

— Recently you as astronomer edited the translated into Ukrainian book of Paul Brekke Our Life Giving Star – the Sun and you wrote the proem to it. Is this your first such experience? Did you fall to thinking of writing your book about astronomy for children?

— The book of Norwegian astrophysicist Paul Brekke was translated by professional translator from Scandinavian languages Natalia Ivanychuk. I was pleased to work on her translation, because the Ukrainian language of lady Natalia is very satiate and rich. The book came out to be wonderful, because the Sun is the star, which I was always interested in. My first scientific thesis is about research of the solar atmosphere. Hrani-T Publisher approved my editing and asked to write the proem to the book. I offered to find for this more respectable scientist and astronomer than me. But the publisher insisted that my style is good for the children’s book. I am contemporary with the author Paul Brekke. He is engaged in astrophysics, he worked at the European Space Agency, whose scientists I collaborate with. And concerning the children’s book I will probably take my courage in both hands some day or other, I note some my thoughts. There are few popular science books for children in Ukrainian.

— You often transmit information of different world space agencies on Facebook. Do you do this for yourself or for your readers?

— - I publish, sometimes translate and explain information from NASA, the European Space Agency, Solar Dynamic Observatory and active space stations, which information I use in my own scientific researches. I noticed that it is interesting for people to read news about approaching to the Earth asteroids, comets, etc. Doing researches of space objects, I understand that for no special reason it is very difficult to break a world harmony. And as most of famous astronomers, I am a religious scientist, that I why I am convinced that the Universe cannot harm itself. This is a human, who, destroying nature, overturns a balance.