Saturday, August 02, 2008

Smolyan Observatory Observes Other, Larger Observatories


A Smolyan Herald investigative reporter has discovered that astronomers at the Smolyan Observatory apparently spend a large portion of their work day observing other observatories on this planet. Despite having a highly trained and professional staff and the largest telescope in Southeast Europe, head astronomer Dr. Georgi Petrov stated in an interview yesterday that there exist many other, more impressive observatories that “we just had to check out.”

Popular choices for Dr. Petrov and his staff are the Gran Telescopio Caranrias in Spain, the VLT Interferometer in Cerro Paranal, Chile and Bolshoi Teleskop Azimutalnyi in Russia, which Petrov describes as “totally sweet.”

The Smolyan Telescope is capable of observing light from stars 5.5 billion light years away and routinely discovers 100 asteroids per year. Nonetheless, observing other observatories remains the staff pastime. Dr. Petrov, who has managed the telescope since its opening in 1981, said “watching other observatories make astonishing and important discoveries is extremely rewarding for us. In fact, our observatory holds the record for discovering more discoveries made by other observatories than any other observatory.”

Although generally harmless, the habit of observing other observatories has occasionally caused controversy with telescope lovers the world over. One particularly troublesome brouhaha came about when Dr. Petrov and his crew found that the staff at the Bolshoi Teleskop Asimutalnyi tried to use the observatory’s ultra powerful lenses and mirrors to play Nintendo Wii games projected on the surface of the moon. After Petrov went public about the Bolshoi incident, a firestorm of debate engulfed observers across the world over the ethics of observatories publicly criticizing one another.

“To be fair,” said Petrov in his own defense, “These other observatories are located several lightminutes away from ours. For all we know, by the time the light reaches our telescope, these other observatories could already have been destroyed by an exploding star or decrease in government funding. Petrov was then forced to cut the interview short, stating that he had to “go watch two Russian astronomers make out.”

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