2022 – Kolonica 25 July – 3 August, “From pictures to spectra”


RobertBarsaSR, SAS5
PavolDubovskýSR, Hvezdáreň Humenné4
PeterHabajSR, HaP M.R.Š. Hlohovec
MykhailoHontarenkoUA, Jagiellonian University5
MatúšKamenecSR, SPHE2
RichardKomžíkSR, AsU SAV5
RobertKožurkoSR, HaP M.R.Š. Hlohovec
AnastassiaLashkovaUA, Odesa I I.Mechnikov National University3
JanaMarkusUA, IOP NANU4
VladaMarsakovaUA, Odessa National University3
TomášMedulkaSR, Hvezdáreň Humenné1
MartinObertSR, MO SZA RS1
MilošObertSR, SZA
JúliaObertováSR, MO SZA RS1
KarolPetríkSR, HaP M.R.Š. Hlohovec
TheodorPribullaSR, SPHE5
StanislavŠústSR, SPHE2
LevTartakovskyiUA, Odessa Richeleu Science Lyceum3
MartinVrašťákSR, SPHE5


The astrocamp was organized by the Vihorlat Observatory with co-organizers, which were the Section of Variable Stars and Exoplanets of the Slovak Astronomical Society of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Slovak Union of Astronomers (hereinafter the Section), the Slovak Central Observatory and the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UPJŠ in Košice. The event took place from July 25 to August 3, 2022 at the Astronomical Observatory at Kolonica Saddle. In keeping with its name, astrocamp is aimed at research of variable stars.

The subtitle of this year’s edition was “From Pictures to Spectrum”. The organizers responded to the fact that spectroscopy is now feasible even in amateur conditions. In addition to traditional photometric tasks, which participants usually solve, the astrocamp held a course of spectroscopy of variable stars led by RNDr. Theodor Pribulla, CSc., from the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, v. v. i. in Tatranská Lomnica. The course consisted of theoretical lectures, but also practical exercises. The participants tried the processing of eshelet spectra in an IRAF environment step by step. Only at the end was presented a script that will perform the whole process at once. They also got acquainted with the iSpec software package and tried to determine the basic atmospheric parameters of the star from the supplied spectra. All exercises took place in a Linux operating system environment running from USB sticks that participants received at the start of the camp. The image of Linux with all software packages and necessary settings was prepared by another employee of the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, v. v. i., RNDr. Richard Komžík, CSc.

A total of 21 participants took part in the astrocamp, 6 of them from Ukraine, the rest from Slovakia. Unfortunately, not all Slovak participants were able to stay for the entire 9 days of astrocamp. The cause must be seen mainly in the conflict of terms. At the time of the summer new moon, many different astronomical events take place in Slovakia. The organizational head of the astrocamp was the chairman of the Section Pavol A. Dubovsky. The technical provision of the astrocamp was in charge of another employee of the Vihorlat Observatory, Tomáš Medulka. The participation of external lecturers from the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, v. v. i. was crucial for the success of the event. Leading a group of diverse participants was challenging. For some, even the use of Linux OS itself was new. Together, however, all the goals were finally achieved.

In addition to the spectroscopic course, the usual astrocamp program took place. Night observations and solving basic tasks from the research of variable stars. The task of determining and applying transformation coefficients was solved by Stanislav Šúst and Matúš Kamenec. A group of students led by Dr. Marsaková solved the classic task of constructing an O-C diagram for selected eclipsing binary stars. Mykhailo Hontarenko, a student of Jagiellonian University, presented his statistical research on a selected sample of classical cepheids. The Astronomical Observatory at Kolonica Saddle is known for conducting long-term monitoring of spin variations of intermediate polars. Therefore, the task of adding additional points to the O-C diagrams and their interpretation is never missing during the astrocamp. This time, students Jana Markus and Inna Izvieková tackled it. In connection with the spectroscopic topic, the best Slovak amateur spectroscopist Ing. Martin Vrašťák presented his observations and methodological procedures in data collection and analysis.

Although much of the work an astronomer does on a computer, what astronomers like most is practical observation. There are excellent conditions for this at the Astronomical Observatory in Kolonica Saddle. For each task one suitable telescope can be allocated. This year there was a problem with the biggest one – the Vihorlat National Telescope. Electronics failed. The problem was solved only at the end of the astrocamp thanks to intuition T. Pribula. However, the current data for solving the task on intermediate polars was obtained through the Csere telescope in Hlohovec, which is remotely controllable. The exemplary cooperation of Slovak observatories was also spiced up by the presence of the director of the Observatory and Planetarium M. R. Štefánik in Hlohovec, Mgr. Karol Petrík.

The last evening at Variable includes the presentation of the final presentations of individual researchers and the Jindřich Šilhán Prize for an exemplary approach to observing variable stars. This time, a high school student from Odessa Lev Tartakovskyi was awarded.

Enriching Variable with a spectroscopic theme was certainly beneficial. Lecturers from the Astronomical Institute promised to participate in the future. It’s also a challenge for potential participants to suggest what exactly they’d like to learn from the Variable astrocamp. It will certainly be necessary to adjust the date of the event so that there is no collision with other events. For Variable astrocamp, it is not crucial in which phase of the Moon it takes place. The aesthetic experience of the dark colonial sky is interesting, but it is not the main goal of the event, which is increasingly taking on the character of a summer school.

Pavol A. Dubovsky