2018 – Stuposiany 9 – 18 July


GrzegorzSekMOAPulsating + Sun


The astrocamp was organized by the Vihorlat Observatory with the support of the Slovak Central Observatory in Hurbanovo. The co-organizers were the Slovak Association of Astronomers, the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UPJŠ in Košice, the Non-Investment Fund Teleskop, Podduklianske Educational Centre in Svidník, Gmina Wisniowa. The event took place from 09 to 18 July 2018. This year, a school youth hostel in the village of Stuposiany in the middle of the Biesczady Starry Sky Park in Poland was chosen as the location of the astrocamp. A group of young variable star observers from Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine intended to test observational conditions in a place where light pollution is virtually non-existent. They made sure that light pollution is really minimal, the sky shows only natural brightness. However, it only showed up for three nights. The rest of the astrocamp was characterized by wet and cloudy weather.

However, observing variable stars is no longer just night observation through binoculars. More time will be taken by the selection of the observation program, the technical preparation of the observation and the subsequent processing and analysis of the data. It was these activities that the participants of Variable 2018 could fully devote themselves to. From the formal point of view, the content of astrocamp is to solve research tasks that participants choose from the offered list. Of the six offered, participants dealt with the solution of five. The final day belonged to the presentation of results in the form of short lectures.

At the Variable astrocamp, it is customary to award the Jindřich Šilhán Prize for an exemplary approach to observing variable stars. The award went to Mateusz Windak from the Youth Astronomical Observatory in Niepolomice. Mateusz focuses mainly on astrophotography. But on astrocamp, in addition to a lot of nice pictures, he also made photometry of the dwarf planet Pluto.

Since astrocamp was more theoretical than practical, there was also room for theoretical lectures. They were carried out in the spirit of international cooperation. At their own request, the Ukrainian group received a lecture on transforming photometric data into a standard system. In return, the Polish part of the participants was trained on the use of MCV software in photometric data processing. The participants informed each other about the existence of associations of variable star observers in their countries. Pavol Dubovský supplied very up-to-date information about the joint meeting of AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) and BAA (British Astronomical Society) in Great Britain, from which he has just returned. RNDr. Igor Kudzej, CSc., talked to everyone about accretion processes in tight binary stars. The main theoretical contributions were two lectures by employees of the Vihorlat Observatory. Tomáš Medulka spoke on the topic “What to do when you discover a new variable star” and Pavol Dubovský had an overview paper on “Superhumps of cataclysmic variable stars”.

During the astrocamp, there were also several sightseeing trips to the attractions of the Biesczady region. Of course, they also included a visit to the astrotourist facility of Pavol Ďuriš in the village of Dwernik. The participants of the astrocamp toured the infrastructure of the observatory and were treated to sausages and vegetarian goulash. After dinner, they went to Mount Otryt, where there is a small astronomical observatory with a telescope with a diameter of 40 cm on Dobsonian GoTo mount. However, the stars showed themselves for a while only after descending down to Dwernik.

RNDr. Igor Kudzej, CSc.

Director of the Vihorlat Observatory in Humenné