This is dissapointing: sitting on my balcony trying to locate some of the beautiful stars above that are simply not there! Photopollution has a cost. A little earlier I watched the moon setting hand in hand with Venus (and the weaker-lighted Jupiter behind) and it was just an amazing picture to enjoy. But stars? The Milky Way? Very hard despite the rather dark night due to Moon’s absence. It is not only my location of viewing the night sky, it is the unfair comparison with the beautiful sky I was lucky to observe a week ago in Ano Vrontou Serres during our Starry Night Event.
It has been already ten years a few guys and a telescope decided to organize the first event of Astropyli (http://www.astropyli.org) in Ano Vrontou, Serres. Ano Vrontou is a remote community at 1100 m of elevation far away from any strong sources of light at the foor of Mt Orvilos, exactly at the border with Bulgaria. Ano Vrontou was a very frequent place a century ago being a settlement on the path of trade caravans from the north down to Serres and Thessaloniki. Local economy flourished at the time, but after two wars and construction of modern roads, the location was left abandoned and slowly decayed. However, there is still a 300 people strong place and is very famous for the local produce, Vrontou potato, mainly due to the heavy soils and winter conditions.
Being 35 km away from the capital of the prefecture, Ano Vrontou is the ideal place to have a relaxing visit, breathe all the oxygen you might have missed in the large cities and enjoy great local food and wine spirits. But it is also a great place to set your telescope and enjoy the night sky. Ten years after, those first guys have multiplied and every year more and more people gather to listen to lectures from prominent scientists (mainly Professors of Astrophysics), observe stellar objects and take part in the satellitle events taking place in the days before and after the event (camping, hiking, ecotourism, astroschool of the kids and many more).
Astropyli has grown strong over the years. And passionate. And people dream of more and more things to plan, organize and build. A science park is in construction phase, a planetarium will be built for kids to visit and get educated, an environmental monitoring station is being designed and many more activities supported by UNESCO-Serres are being planned. Astropyli has passed the critical first decade of existence. It is now time for them to mature and step in the second phase: achieve the ambitious goals. We will all be there to help.
Here is my opening of this year’s event
Happy Birthday Astropyli!