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THE FRIENDS OF ASTRONOMY CLUB OF THESSALONIKI

The coordinates of our home location 40° 37′ N – 22° 58′ E

Office hours: Wednesday and Saturday 18:00 – 21:00

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5th Panhellenic Amateur Astronomers Campaign

Friends of Astronomy Club is organizing the 5th Panhellenic Amateur Astronomers Campaign, in a very dark site from 28 to 31 July 2011. See more here: astroexormisi2011.ofa.gr

Who are we and what do we do
Dear friends, welcome to our page. Although the majority of our members and our Club’s friends are of Greek Nationality, nevertheless, among them we count a number of other Nationalities, such as: English, Americans, French, Egyptians, Italians, Dutch, Czechs, Russians, Nepalese, etc. For this reason it is imperative for us to introduce our Club in a language that is understood by all. The questions that most often are asked are about the history of our Club and our activities. For this reason we post the following information that will answer the majority of your queries. However, should any other information is required we shall be only too glad to provide it either directly or post it here.

When was our Club founded?
Our Club was founded in 1997 by the initiative of 67 individuals from our town. Among them were (and still are) several professors of Astronomy from the Department of Physics of the University of Thessaloniki, also, teachers, engineers, technicians, lawyers, salesmen, students of various disciplines, doctors, dentists, musicians, sopranos, theater actresses, industrial designers, mosaic artists, theologians, writers, athletes, housewives, in short and in a nutshell, most other trades and occupations that you may think of. At the moment of writing (9th of June, 2014) we count 599 members of all ages (from less than 18 – by proxy through their parents – to over 84), from allover Greece and overseas. The binding matrix, that holds us together is the wonder known by one word – Astronomy.

The location of our offices
Our full address is:
113, Alexandria Street, 546 46, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Telephone: +30 (0) 2310 423-133
e-mail: ofa@ofa.gr

Our offices are located on street level and we have our own Lecture Hall, named “Ptolemies’ Hall” on the second floor (named mainly in honor of the first three Macedonian Ptolemies and Pharaohs of Egypt, that have instituted the Great Alexandrian Library of old and their famous University). The Lecture Hall is furnished with students’ benches, and is outfitted with a white board, library, TV screen and is stocked with video films, slides projector and slides, overhead projector, CDs, DVDs, conference table etc.

Our activities include:

Club regular meetings
The Club is open to all every Wednesday and Saturday from 18:00 to 21:30 EET (EET = UT + 2 hours). On Wednesdays the members of the group that perform frequent and advanced observations hold their weekly meetings to discuss the projects at hand, plan their next outings, report on findings, review their latest astronomical photos etc.

Private observatories of our members
We are proud to mention that two of our members, Constantine Emmanuelides and Constantine Theodorides, have recently constructed their own personal observatories. The former with a 12″ telescope is on the lookout for supernovas and the latter with a 10″ telescope will soon be ready to hunt for Comets.

Lessons of Astronomy for beginners
The activities of our Club are numerous. Foremost in our concerns are the lessons of Astronomy for beginners, that are usually held on Saturday evenings from 18:00 to 20:00.

Lectures
Periodically we hold lectures on various topics, usually related to Astronomy, by various visiting lecturers or members of our Club, either in the “Ptolemies Hall”, or at the Observatory lecture room “Vassilis Xanthopoulos” of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), or other halls that can accommodate a larger audience.

Advanced observations – usually from Taxiarchis mountain in Halkidiki (40,4526°N, 23,4824° E), or Livadi (40,5193°N, 23,2033°E)
On a regular basis and weather permitting, serious observations and astronomical photography are planned and performed by our more advanced members. These outings to mountaintops, usually planned for Saturdays evenings, are an all night affair. Upon their return the accumulated data are reviewed and logged by the individuals, pictures are developed and the results are discussed by the group. The debriefings help the less experienced of our members to advance their methods and fine-tune their techniques, a task that would otherwise be almost impossible. By the way, the telescopes owned by our members are close to 100 units, the majority though are used occasionally and privately by the owners.

“Astroparties”
Outings with a number of various telescopes of our members, at some relatively less light polluted areas, for instruction of new members that wish to observe the Constellations, learn the use of the Planisphere and observe firsthand the mysteries and the humbling beauty of the Cosmos.

Occasional Weekend Excursions
For the same purpose as above we occasionally make excursions to some better locations (with less light pollution) to observe the night sky and of course visit the local museums, archeological sites, Churches, Monasteries, natural or manmade monuments and of course we get to indulge in gastronomy too. In the process the newer members get closer to the Club, get to know each other better and of course have fun in the process.

Pan Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Conferences
Every second year a Pan-Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Conferences is held at various cities in Greece, where various topics, progress and achievements are discussed. The first such Conference was held and organized by the Club of Volos, the second was organized by the Club of Corfu and the third Conference was held in Halkidiki (Northern Greece) and was organized by our Club. The attendance in this last one topped the 220 mark. The fourth Conference will be held at Athens on the 9th 10th & 11th of September 2005. The number of the Greek Amateur Clubs that attended the Halkidiki Conference was 11.

Construction of astronomical, mathematical, space vehicles models etc.
Some of our members construct models of astronomical, mathematical and various other instruments of the past such as quadrants, sextants, octants, sundials, nocturnals, astrolabes, abacuses, planispheres and much more, for teaching or for plain interest in the various stages of progress in the science of Astronomy through time. Last year our member Paul Voulouvoutis (a pharmacist) constructed a 10″ telescope.

Astronomy for the blind
A number of models were specifically designed and developed by us for the blind. They are labeled in Braille, which helps the less fortunate than us, to get as close as possible, to at least feel, in three dimensions, if not the colors of the Universe we live in.

A quarterly Newsletter Publication in Greek
The Club publishes a quarterly Newsletter which is mailed to our members that includes the Club’s news and activities, schedules of activities to come, as well as the night sky of the next quarter. Many of our members write articles and books in our yearly publication.

Astronomical Calendar of the Club
Our Club designs and publishes a yearly “Astronomical Calendar” (in Greek) with all the pertinent information needed by all interested in the yearly astronomical events, noted dates, time of star and planet viewing, enriched by occasional photographs taken by our members and much more information pertaining to Astronomy.

School visits
As a rule, several schools regularly invite us to lecture on some specific topic or general astronomical information at theirs or our own premises.

Our Club’s yearly birthday party
Every year, around November the 28th, (our Club’s birthday) the members of our Club hold a big party to celebrate the Club’s birthday. This is usually held in a restaurant with live music.

The transit of Venus on June 8th 2004
On June 8th 2004, 21 telescopes of the Club’s members were set up in two sites 1) at the University of Thessaloniki and 2) at the Planetarium of our town. All of them have followed and recorded the rare event of the transit of Venus in front of the Sun. Many more of our members viewed the transit from other locations of their own choosing. During the event we have had the pleasure to meet the famous Astronomer and Eclipse Hunter J. Pasachoff, (invited by the University) his students and his staff. Professor Pasachoff was kind to give us a lecture about the event with all the pertinent historical details of the past.

Exhibitions in our premises
Our latest project, which started in December 2004, is to display and present various exhibits related to astronomy such as: geology and meteorites, mathematics, physics experiments, etc. thus giving the opportunity to any one interested in those fields to get aquatinted with Astronomy. Appropriately in our first exhibition, a large number of astronomical photographs will be displayed. All photographs have been shot by three of our members – a music professor, a lawyer and a carpenter (we are proud of the diversity of background of our members and the excellent photographs they take).

Forthcoming news
As things will be happening we shall be updating and announcing the forthcoming events in this page. We thank you for the interest in our Club. Should you have any questions, please do feel free to contact us. We shall try to answer your queries as early as possible.

Club events during International Year of Astronomy 2009
Here are listed all the events held by our club during IYA2009

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