Biurakan Astrophysical Observatory

Biurakan Astrophysical Observatory


of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR. It was founded in 1946 on the southern slope of Mount Aragats, 35 km from Yerevan, near the village of Biurakan, at an elevation of about 1,500 m.

The Biurakan Astrophysical Observatory is one of the major astronomical centers of the USSR. The director of the observatory since the day of its founding has been V. A. Ambartsumian. In addition to laboratory equipment, the observatory’s main instruments include the USSR’s largest meter-size Schmidt telescope (one of the largest in the world) with the world’s largest objective prism, a 53-cm Schmidt telescope, a 50-cm and a 40-cm reflector with electrophotometers and electropolarimeters, and a 25-cm telescope-spectrograph with a quartz prism. The construction of a 2.6-m telescope was completed in 1971. At the observatory’s radioastronomy station there are two radio interferometers for the observation of discrete radia sources. The major areas of research are the structure of the galaxy and its constituents (star clusters, stellar associations, interstellar absorbing matter); spectrophotometric, colorimetric, and polarimetric investigations of variable stars and nebulas; radioastronomy; stellar cosmogeny; the theory of super-dense configurations of matter; and the theory of the transfer of radiation. In the 1960’s the observatory’s work was increasingly devoted to extragalactic astronomy. In 1947 the physical systems of young stars—stellar associations—were discovered at the observatory. Its efforts have played a large role in working out and developing ideas about the cosmogenic activity of the nuclei of galaxies. Three supernovas, hundreds of variable stars and white dwarfs, more than 20 comet and planetary nebulas, more than 300 galaxies with unusually strong ultraviolet radiation, more than 20 blue satellites of elliptical galaxies, and many other objects have been discovered there. The observatory has been publishing Soobshcheniia Biurakanskoi observatorii since 1946. In 1967 the Biurakan Astrophysical Observatory was awarded the Order of Lenin.


Mirzoian, L. V. Biurakanskaia astrofizicheskaia observatoriia. Moscow, 1958.
Ambartsumian, V. A., and L. V. Mirzoian. “Astrofizika.” In Akademiia nauk Armianskoi SSR za 25 let. Yerevan, 1968.