The Hermitage Observatory
On 16 April 2007, an observatory was set up on the roof of the Winter Palace to mark the tenth anniversary of the naming of several small planets "Hermitage," "Piotrovsky" and "Louvre." The observation of the stars and planets was organized with the assistance of the Main Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and with the support of the companies Yarkii Mir, Pentax and Meade. The design of the observatory incorporated elements of drawings by participants in the Drawing Studio of the State Hermitage's School Centre around the theme of outer space and small planets, as well as photographs of cosmic phenomena: cloudy areas, galaxies, star clusters and constellations.
"The great Empress won for herself an immortal place in the chronicles of astronomy through her protection and support for the practitioners of this science, which was especially evident in 1769. That was the year when Venus passed through the solar disk and astronomers from all of Europe came to Russia, where they found not only generous hospitality but all the conditions necessary to carry out astronomical observations." Thus wrote V.Ya. Struve, the first director of the Pulkovo Observatory. Empress Catherine the Great loved to observe the heavenly bodies with the aid of a telescope and to converse with learned astronomers. For this purpose, in the second half of the 18th century she had an observatory built over her lodgings, on the roof of the Winter Palace. This was a small wooden structure with large windows. It lasted until 1826, when it was disassembled for reasons of "complete dilapidation."
Catherine II's fascination with astronomy was shared by many monarchs of the time. The distant stars and planets attracted her as person who was capable of thinking on a large scale, and as the ruler of a vast empire. That was the Age of Enlightenment, and astronomy, like other sciences, actively expanded the visible boundaries of the world in which man lived.
Over the course of his entire history, many has constantly been mastering new territories - territories on the map of the world and “territories” in the realm of spirituality and art. But mankind's future is inevitably linked with the cosmos. Though we have appeared and become strong here on Earth, we have to conquer new space that is beyond our reach. Till then we “touch” them in our thoughts.
The Hermitage has brought together within its walls, with the light hand of its founder Catherine the Great, these two aspirations of mankind: for spirituality, as expressed in the creation of a unique art collection, and territorial expansion of the future - the initial stage of which we can see in the creation of the observatory of the Winter Palace. This combination continues to our very day, but on a higher level: whereas in ancient times man named the heavenly orbs in honor of the gods and heroes of tales, today the newly discovered cosmic bodies are given names symbolizing man's achievements, thoughts and spirituality.
Information about certain small planets
Small planets (asteroids) are bodies of the Solar System having a diameter of between 1 and 1,000 km. The overall mass of all the small planets is less than 1/700 of the mass of the Earth. The orbits of most of the small planets are between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter (the so-called asteroid belt). The best known of the small planets are Cerera (Nr 1), Pallada (Nr 2), Yunona (Nr 3) and Vesta (Nr 4).
Discovered on 27 September 1978 by Ludmila I. Chernykh in the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. Named at the suggestion of ITA, Russian Academy of Sciences; the name was formally approved on 22 February 1997. Average distance from the Sun - 3.208 à.å. (479.9 mln km). Period of complete orbit - 5.745 years. Average diameter - 14 km. Distance from the Earth at 11.04.2007 - 537.9 million km. In the Pesces constellation.
Discovered on 26 October 1989 by Ludmilaa I. Chernykh in the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory.
Named at the suggestion of ITA, Russian Academy of Sciences and Chernykh in honor of B.B. Piotrovskya and M.B. Piotrovsky; approved on 22 February 1997. Average distance from the Sun - 2.234 à.å. (334.3 million km). Period of a complete orbit - 3.340 years. Average diameter - 8 km. Distance from Earth on 11.04.2007 - 411.4 million km. In the constellation "Gemini"
Discovered on 1 April 1976 by Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. Named at the suggestion of ÈÒÀ Russian Academy of Sciences and Chernykh in honor of A.M. Gorodnitsky; approved on 4 May 1999. Average distance from the Sun - 2.683 à.å. (401.3 million km). Period of complete orbit - 4.394 years. Average diameter - 9 km. In the constellation 'Libra'.
Discovered on 30 August 1971 by Ò.Ì. Smirnova in the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. Named at the suggestion of M.B. Piotrovsky. Distance from the Earth at 11.04.2007 - 451.7 million km. In the constellation 'Aquila.'