A r A S   N e w s






No. 6   (August 29, 2003)




Editor: T.Yu.Magakian, tigmag@sci.am




The ArAS Newsletter in the INTERNET:   http://www.aras.am








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            1) Armenian Astronomers in the IAU GA XXV;

2) Armenian-Georgian Colloquium in Byurakan;

3) Ludwik Mirzoyan - 80;

4) The Armenian name of Milky Way;

5) Biographical Dictionary of the Armenian Astronomy;

6) Contact Information for ArAS.










The XXV General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) took place in Sydney (Australia) on July 13-26 this year. This major astronomy event of the year included 6 IAU Symposia (S216-S221), 21 Joint Discussions (JD01-JD21), and 4 Special Sessions on various important aspects of modern astrophysics. As before, Armenian astronomers took an active participation in the IAU GA. In all, nine Armenian astronomers participated in it:


Prof. Vahe Gurzadyan (Yerevan Physics Institute, Armenia);

Dr. Garik Israelian (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), Spain);

Prof. Edward Khachikian (Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, Armenia);

Dr. Kirill Kuzanyan (Izmiran, Heliophysics, Russia);

Dr. Areg Mickaelian (Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, Armenia);

Prof. Vahe Petrosian (Stanford University, USA);

Dr. John Sarkissian (Parkes Observatory, ATNF/CSIRO, Australia);

Prof. Yervant Terzian (Cornell University, Ithaca, USA);

Dr. Gagik Tovmasian (Observatorio Astronomico Nacional, UNAM, Mexico).


They participated and contributed in S216: Maps of the Cosmos (July 14-17); S217: Recycling Intergalactic & Interstellar Matter (July 14-17); S219: Stars as Suns: Activity, Evolution, and Planets (July 21-25); JD03: Magnetic Fields & Helicity in the Sun & Heliosphere (July 16); JD05: White Dwarfs: Galactic & Cosmological Probes (July 16-17); JD08: Large Telescopes & Virtual Observatory: Visions for the Future (July 17-18); JD09: Astrotomography (July 17); JD10: Evolution in Galaxy Clusters: A Multiwavelength Approach (July 17-18); JD11: Dynamics & Evolution of Dense Stellar Systems (July 18).


In all, 2 invited and 5 contributed oral talks and 4 posters were presented by the Armenian astronomers.


Oral talks:

"The Digitized First Byurakan Survey (DFBS)" - A.M.Mickaelian (S216);

"Colliding or Activity of Nucleus Monster Galaxy" - E.Ye.Khachikian (S217);

"Abundances of Elements in Stars with Extra-Solar Planets" - G.L.Israelian (S219, invited);

"Helicity and the Alpha-Effect: Dynamo Theory and Observations" - K.Kuzanyan (JD03);

"New White Dwarfs and Cataclysmic Variables from the FBS" - A.M.Mickaelian (JD05);

"Non-Thermal Activity and Particle Acceleration" - V.Petrosian (JD10, invited);

"Central Black Holes and the Stability of Globular Clusters" - V.G.Gurzadyan (JD11).



"A New IR Flux Limited Sample of IRAS Galaxies" - A.M.Mickaelian (S216);

"Abundance of Volatiles N, O and S in Stars with Exoplanets" - G.L.Israelian (S219);

"Star Spots in AE Aqr B" - G.H.Tovmassian (S219);

"Doppler Tomography of Selected Magnetic CVs" - G.H.Tovmassian (JD09).


The IAU GA XXV was a good chance to meet other scientists, to participate in discussions and exchange of experience, and to enjoy the scientific and friendly atmosphere in beautiful Sydney. The Armenian astronomers gave an interview for the Armenian department of the SBS radio in Sydney. Participation of 2 astronomers from Byurakan was made possible by support of the IAU. The next (XXVI) IAU GA will take place in 2006 in Prague.


Areg Mickaelian,

Byurakan Observatory.








The traditional joint Byurakan-Abastumani colloquia were established long before Armenia and Georgia became independent countries. That time directors of the two observatories - the late academicians Victor Ambartsumian and Evgeny Kharadze were the initiators of such scientific meetings which very soon turned to be traditional. That time these colloquia had a status of inter-observatory meetings. After these two countries regained their sovereignty, economic situation did not allow the regular continuation of the established tradition until in 1997 at Abastumani was organized the first "after-independency" colloquium, which automatically obtained an international status.


In the second decade of June (10-14) this year at Byurakan observatory was held forth "after-independency" joint colloquium. This one was dedicated to the 80-th anniversary of late academician Ludwig Mirzoyan who had done a lot to make possible these bilateral meetings. By the way, five years ago the previous colloquium held in Byurakan was dedicated to his jubilee as well and that time Mirzoyan, although incurably ill already, participated in the meeting.


As always the spectrum of scientific reports was very general - participants were allowed to report their results obtained in any area of astrophysics. Therefore more than 20 reports have been presented from theoretical investigations in celestial mechanics and radiation mechanisms of pulsars to clusters of galaxies and quasars. To make the colloquium program subject-oriented more or less, scientific sessions were divided into three classes "stars and stellar objects", "extragalactic objects" and "miscellaneous". During four working days along with scientific reports and discussions some cultural and social events were organized for the participants. They visited the Ambartsumian Museum in Byurakan and Parajanov Museum, got a chance to have a sightseeing walk in Yerevan.



Hayk Harutyunyan, 

Byurakan Observatory.











The Armenian Astronomical Society (ArAS), Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) celebrated the 80th anniversary of one of the most famous Armenian astronomers Ludwik Mirzoyan. His scientific activity and almost all life were tightly connected with the Byurakan Observatory, where he worked for 52 years. He was a rare scientist who could combine scientific, administrative, organizational, editorial, and pedagogical works.


L.V.Mirzoyan was born on May 1, 1923 in Yerevan. After graduation of the Yerevan State University (YSU) in 1947, on invitation of Academician V.A.Ambartsumian, he started to work in the newly founded Byurakan Observatory and took an active part in its real creation. In 1948-50, he was a post-graduate. Mirzoyan published his first scientific paper in the first year of his Ph.D. studies, and defended his thesis in 1951. As early as in 1949 he started to lecture at the Yerevan State University. In 1953-59 Mirzoyan was the Scientific Secretary of the Byurakan Observatory, in 1959-86, the Deputy Director on science. Simultaneously, since 1965 till his death, he was the Head of the Department of Physics of Stars and Nebulae and since 1986, Head of a research group as well. 


L.V.Mirzoyan had a wide range of scientific interests. His research work may be divided into three main directions. The first is the spectrophotometric study of hot giant stars. The early works of this field made up the basis of L.V.Mirzoyan's Ph.D. thesis. The second direction is the kinematics of OB-associations and stars of Trapezium type systems, where he suggested a unique solution of the problem. The obtained results made up the basis of Mirzoyan's Doctoral thesis which he defended in 1968. The third direction was the search and study of flare stars of stellar aggregates. For many years Mirzoyan was the coordinator of the program, which was being carried out by astronomers of a number of countries. At present, one cannot imagine the mentioned field of astrophysics without the results obtained by L.V.Mirzoyan. His most important scientific results may be presented as follows:


·        suggestion of a new method for measuring of the interstellar selective absorption;

·        creation of a method of "synthetic" association and prove of expansion of OB-associations;

·        measurement of the A-constant of the rotation of our Galaxy;

·        study of the problem of K-effect;

·        discovery and study of hundreds of flare stars in Orion, Pleiades and other systems and in solar vicinity;

·        spectrophotometric study of unusual stellar objects V1057 Cyg, FG Sge, RW Aur, and SS Cyg;

·        study of Shahbazian's compact groups of compact galaxies.


In all, Mirzoyan was an author of 271 publications, including 171 scientific papers, 15 books (monographs and textbooks) and booklets, 65 scientific-popular articles and information materials, and edition of 20 books and proceedings. Important are Mirzoyan's series of papers on above mentioned subjects, review papers in different books and meetings on the Byurakan approach on cosmogony.


As was mentioned above, Mirzoyan could combine successfully his huge-volume scientific and scientific-organizational activity with the same scale editorial and pedagogical work. Since 1965 he was the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal Astrofizika, and since 1988, the Editor-in-Chief. It is impossible to overestimate his role in preservation of the journal during the hard years of the economic crisis in Armenia in early 90s. Mirzoyan's pedagogical activity at the YSU continued almost half a century. He lectured a number of subjects, including the most important general course of astrophysics. The present generation of the Byurakan Observatory astronomers almost entirely is his students. There are scientists of republics of former Soviet Union and foreign countries among his post-graduate students as well, who became later well-known astronomers.


Mirzoyan was a Professor of the Yerevan State University (1970), Honored Worker of Science of Armenian SSR (1974), Corresponding Member of the Armenian NAS (1986), and Academician of the Armenian NAS (1996). He was a member of the International Astronomical Union (1958), the Astronomical Council of the USSR (1970), Corresponding member of the International Astronautics Academy (1970), advisory member of Institute d'Astrophysique de Paris (1970-1975), and member of the European Astronomical Society (1990). Mirzoyan was one of the initiators of creation of a society of Armenian astronomers. He kept good contacts with astronomers of Armenian nationality all over the world and dreamed to create a joint organization for all of them. 


L.V.Mirzoyan passed away on July 20, 1999 in Yerevan, after a long illness. He served all his life to the Armenian science and the Byurakan Observatory. For his colleagues and friends, he was an example of adherence to principles, insistence to himself and his colleagues, honesty, hard-working and full devotion to the science. We all will keep his memory in our hearts.



Areg Mickaelian,

Byurakan Observatory.








We are to confess that not much is known about the astronomical knowledge in ancient Armenia though there are many historical data pointing out astronomical successes of our ancestors both directly and indirectly. One can find all types of facts - monuments and petroglyphs, written manuscripts and astronomical terms created in our language thousands of years ago. The last class of data is less studied, although it could provide a unique opportunity for realizing a comparative linguistic analysis. We would like to present here an example of such term created in Armenian language.


Every Armenian villager since childhood knows a completely different name of Milky Way. It can be translated as "the way of a man who had stolen the straw". This proper noun comes from the pre-Christian Armenian legend devoted to the god of fire - Vahagn. It is noteworthy that this name is rather old and is cognate with the words "vah" and "agn" in the Sanskrit meaning a god and a fire. The old Armenian legend rewritten by Movses Khorenatsi tells the story of Vahagn who contrived to steel some straw from Assyrian king Barsham once in a very cold winter and brought it to Armenia. According to this tale Milky Way was originated as some part of the stolen straw has been dropped on the heaven in Vahagn's back way.


The most striking in relation with this name is that while many nations use their own terms for Milky Way, in a huge area - from the Gobi desert to the Atlantic coasts of Africa and from the North Caucasus and Danube to Ethiopia - this dim celestial path's proper name is associated with a straw. This fact was used by some researchers to assert that such a name could be originated in Arabian language for they were nomads their all life depending on horses and consequently on the straw. So, allegedly Arabs were the ones to give the name and spread it among the nations living in the occupied countries.


However, apparently this assertion is incorrect in the case of the Armenian name. As it was mentioned above the legend telling about Vahagn is very old, no doubt it was created long ago B.C. On the other hand Armenia was occupied by Arabs only in 7th century A.D. which makes Arabian origin of Milky Way's "straw-based" name very implausible or, if more correctly, impossible. Therefore, the Armenian name of Milky Way cannot be originated due to Arabian influence and it should be recognized as a native Armenian name given some thousand years ago. But, the Arabians could spread it or facilitate its circulation among other nations provided that its usage had not been initiated earlier by those nations. The point is that occupying new countries Arabs usually have not been destroying the culture and especially the knowledge of such countries. Contrary they were trying to absorb and maintain it. In such a way was maintained antique astronomy initially created by Greeks but survived mainly thanks to Arabian translations. Therefore it is not very implausible to suggest that the "straw-based" name was originally created in Armenian, then translated into Arabian during the occupation of Armenia by Arabs and further it could be spread due to Arab invasions.



Hayk Harutyunyan, 

Byurakan Observatory.







(A reminder)



Dear Colleagues,


We have announced about the Biographical Dictionary of the Armenian Astronomy as early as in our Newsletter #1. Many astronomers have submitted their data and are waiting for the publication. However, almost the half of people to be included in the volume hasn't yet responded. This makes a lot of problems for the publication. On one hand we should put a deadline and stop accepting texts after it, but on the other hand we would like to include all Armenian astronomers in the book, so that it is really a fully representative dictionary and everyone can find data about any of our colleagues. Moreover, we transformed the title from "Dictionary of Armenian astronomers" to "Dictionary of the Armenian astronomy" to include also people of non-Armenian origin but tightly connected with the Armenian astronomy: astronomers worked or working in the Armenian institutions, members of ArAS, people contributed significantly in the Armenian astronomy (by collaboration, etc.).


An important feature for the mentioned edition is that everybody has a possibility to present his/her scientific achievements by own text with the appropriate terms and sentences. We ask all of you to submit urgently your texts in the following scheme:


·        main biographical data (birth date and place, education, sci. degrees and career, awards, honors, membership, etc.);

·        (for scientists of non-Armenian origin) connection with the Armenian astronomy;

·        most important scientific achievements and results (0.5-1 pages);

·        5-10 most important publications (please include your theses and books if any).



Areg Mickaelian,

Co-President of ArAS.









Address:           Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO),

Byurakan 378433, Aragatzotn province, ARMENIA

Tel/fax:              +374-1 53-27-51 (Areg Mickaelian)

E-mail:              aras@web.am, aras_org@freenet.am

Web page:        http://www.aras.am