Balkan Meeting of Young Astronomers

25-29 September 2000, Belogradchik, Bulgaria

The meeting took place at the Belogradchik Astronomical observatory situated in the western part of the Balkan Mountains, among the remarkable Belogradchik Rocks, in the small and beautiful town of Belogradchik in the period 25-29 September 2000. The meeting was organized by the Institute of Astronomy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. 43 young astronomers, Ph.D. students and experts from Bulgaria, Greece, FYR of Macedonia, Romania, Ukraine and Yugoslavia participated in the meeting. This meeting brought together ``de facto'' only astronomers from the Balkan region and, in practice, became the first Balkan astronomical meeting in the region. Unfortunately the meeting interfered with a workshop in Varna dedicated to the first results from the observations of the total solar eclipse in August 1999 and the young astronomers from Turkey, who actively participated in the Varna meeting, were disturbed to attend the meeting in Belogradchik.

The meeting was opened by the director of the Institute of Astronomy Dr. K. Panov and Prof. Dr. G. Ivanov - head of the Department of Astronomy, Sofia University, sent his greetings to the participants. The mayor of Belogradchik Mr. E. Tsankov especially welcomed and received the participants later in the town hall.

During the scientific sessions and discussions 19 reports were given and 10 posters were presented. Two joint discussions were held, dedicated to the development of astronomy in the region and especially to the prospects of the young Balkan astronomers.

During the nights of the meeting young students executed observational and training programmes with the 60 cm Cassegrain telescope equipped with the new photoelectric photometer and with SBIG ST8 CCD camera.

The memorandum of the meeting signed by the representatives of the delegations: Prof. Milan Dimitrijevic (Yugoslavia), Dr. Magda Stavinschi (Romania), Prof. Mijat Mijatovic (FYROM), Prof. Michael Contadakis (Greece), Dr. Boris Zhilyaev (Ukraine), Dr. Valery Golev (Bulgaria, Sofia University), Dr. Milcho Tsvetkov (Bulgaria, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) was sent to the president of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) Dr. Zahn and we appreciate his prompt answer and support.

It was decided during the meeting to start an electronic newspaper of Balkan Astronomy managed by Dr. Vladan Celebonovic (Belgrade).

A regional initiative committee, chaired by Dr. Magda Stavinschi (Romania) - Councillor of EAS, was suggested to take care of future initiatives dedicated to the development of the Balkan astronomy. The first initiative will be the announced meeting in Bucharest Astronomical Observatory in April 2001 dedicated to the solar eclipse observations in August 1999.

In a special memorial evening we honoured the memory of two young Bulgarian colleagues who suddenly passed away in 2000: Mr. Kristian Maslev - who strongly supported the development of astronomy in Belogradchik, and Mr. Tashko Valchev - the experienced PhD student from the National Astronomical Observatory Rozhen.

We are very thankful to all sponsors of the meeting for the financial support who made the meeting possible: Global Net, European Initiative Physics on Stage, the Bulgarian Science and Culture Foundation, VetProm JSC, Belogradchik Municipality and Institute of Astronomy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Personally we would like to thank Mr. Jordan Asenov and Mrs. Asenka Asenova for the technical assistance during the conference, Dr. Vasil Popov for his constant support and help and Dr. Katya Tsvetkova for the help in the publishing of the meeting proceedings.

We are very thankful to all participants for their activity and contributions to the conference scientific discussions and observations.

Finally we would like to express our deep condolences to our colleagues from the FYROM National Committee of Astronomy for the unexpected death of Prof. Dr. Mijat Mijatovic, who passed away suddenly on December 25, 2000. Prof. Mijatovic very actively supported the Balkan cooperation among the astronomers and in practice he established a modern astronomical education in Skopie University. We expect very much that his colleagues will continue the initiative started by Prof. Mijatovic.

The meeting took place thanks to:
Our General sponsor is Global NET ltd.
And other sponsors: Bulgarian Science and Culture Foundation,
Physics on Stage,
Vet Prom JSC,
Municipality of Belogradchik and
Institute of Astronomy.

Rumen G.Bogdanovski