The Astronomy Club of the Observatory

In all times the Observatory has been active in popularizing astronomy and in recent decades the astronomy club has played the major role. The present club’s predecessor is the students’ astronomy club which was founded by Jaan Einasto in 1948. The club started its activities already in 1963 under the supervision of Hugo Raudsaar (1923–2006). The members were school students and they had their meetings in H. Raudsaar’s office in the observatory. The club members were dealing with particular work: they arranged the card catalogue, carried out the measurement of the positions of stars on photo plates, checked the calculations in the calendar of the observatory, etc. Also, they observed the stars under H. Raudsaar’s guidance.

At first the club meetings were irregular but at the end of the sixties the meetings were held each Tuesday, also now the day of meetings is the same. More often the members of the club and invited guest-lecturers began to make presentations and making presentations became the main activity of the club, Raimund Preem, the physicist who was interested in astronomy, was one of the most frequent speakers at that time. From that time until today Tõnu Tuvikene and Anton Tuul participated in the work of the club. At the beginning of 1971 there was an exposition about the club activities in Moscow at the Exhibition of the Achievements of National Economy.

One of the most original activities of the club members was making drawings which served as the basis for engraving the stars on the copper map made in 1979 for the eastern hall of the observatory. In addition to school students, the students at the university began to take part in the work of the club in the 1970s. From the middle of the 1980s Tõnu Tuvikene and Enn Kasak took the supervision of the club over from Hugo Raudsaar who continued to participate in the meetings until 1997. Tõnu Tuvikene is the supervisor of the club also today.

Bigger changes in the work of the club took place after Estonia had become independent. In the autumn of 1994 it was decided not to meet each week but two-three times a month and the club’s aim was to invite all the people interested in astronomy irrespective of their age and field of work. From that time onwards both students and retired people meet at the club gatherings. The number of participants in the meetings had grown to some forty-fifty people.

From 1 September 1996 the old Tartu Observatory was returned to Tartu University and for the better communication with the university the most active members of the club founded the non-profit organization “Tartu Tähetorni Astronoomiaring” which besides holding meetings also publishes posters, calendars, star maps. They also regularly show the stars in the sky to the people of the town. More than 500 people have come to the observatory on specially organized days and observed the sky through the telescope. The club has also participated in organizing annual meetings of the people interested in astronomy. Close cooperation is under way with the Science Centre AHHAA and the University of Tartu History Museum.

The club supervisor Hugo Raudsepp at the card catalogue.
The club member Tõnu Tuvikene arranging the card catalogue.
The core members of the club: Hugo Raudsepp standing, sitting (from left) Raimund Preem who was the most frequent speaker at the meetings, the members Anton Tuul, Jaan Susi and Tõnu Tuvikene (1970).
A page from the club`s diary.