Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory was founded in 1932 as the first alpine astrophysical observatory on the former Soviet Union territory. It is located on mountain Khanobili, about 240 km away from Tbilisi, and 30 km north-west of Akhaltsikhe, at an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level.
Mount Khanobili has unique characteristic conditions for astronomical observations. In the 90s of 19th century, celebrated Russian astronomer Sergej von Glasenapp, who was incidentally a friend and a companion of the Tsar's brother, spent two seasons on the renowned Caucasus winter resort - Abastumani. Professor Glasenapp measured locations of close binary stars with a small lens telescope in a tower, which is currently still being called as “Glasenapp tower” and is located close proximity from the Abastumani Observatory.
Measurements of Professor Glasenapp established excellent scientific implications: as a result of calm atmospheric conditions and expert observations, he was able to measure close binary stars, which typically are virtually almost not distinctive from each other in the normal conditions.
Glazenapp's observations immediately attracted astronomers’ attention. In 1893, well-known American astronomer Robert Burnham, Jr. wrote: “Glasenapp'sobservations once again provedthat surroundings of Tiflis (i.e. Abastumani) arefeasible for astronomic studies, not only on account of the volume of his work, but due to the usage of a small size equatorial.If you consider the results and, undeniably, that is the best approach, there is no morepractical location anywhere in Europe, with the exception of Mount Hamilton, where the conditions are as equally suitable...”
Later in the century, Russian scientists have repeatedly proposed to build a massive astronomical observatory near Abastumani, but only in the years 1930-1931, an appropriate location for the new observatory was selected is the southern part of Georgia by the special expedition of the Leningrad Astronomical Institute, Tbilisi Geophysical Observatory and other state institutions.
Peaceful atmospheric and unusually good conditions for observation were what attracted attention of Abastumani surroundings. However, “Glasenapp tower” site could not meet the requirements of the new observatory. It was necessary to find a wider space in the vicinity which provided same conditions for observation. That's when Mount Khanobili was "discovered", which offered a morewidespreadlocation, with better astronomic climate in comparison to the“Glasenapp tower”.
First buildings were built, telescopes installed and the first observations were conducted in the fall of 1937, which further expanded as a result of the construction of observatory building as well as a new technologies and facilities.
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