“The sky is not the limit, and I encourage you all to dream big and allow your passion to drive your life path,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of UNMIK, Ms. Caroline Ziadeh in her remarks at the historic grand opening of the Pristina Observatory.
On 13 July, a day after the images taken by the James Webb Telescope circulated across the world, the Pristina Observatory reopened its doors to the public after over 35 years. This revitalisation is a result of the efforts of the Astronomy Club of Kosovo (ACK), with support from UNMIK and the Pristina Municipality.
SRSG Ziadeh said that UNMIK is honoured to support this ambitious project. “Art, science and astronomy are universal languages, that connect people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities and unite them in their humanity. We hope that the Pristina Observatory will serve as a youth multi-ethnic scientific hub for decades to come,” she said.
Functional for only 10 years after its opening in 1977, the reopening of the Observatory aims to take forward its legacy as an important scientific and educational centre, and serve as a venue for cooperation and collaboration between different communities.
Additionally, the Observation Tower features a mosaic of the Solar system, created by artists from across Kosovo communities, using recycled tiles.
The Mayor of Pristina, Mr. Perparim Rama said in his remarks, “Until now, the members of ACK travelled across Kosovo cities with their telescopes to hold visits at schools in order to reach out to communities with their passion,” he said. “But from now on, the Observatory will serve as one single address to enable everyone to come learn from them.”
At the 2019 UN Youth Assembly in Kosovo, the ACK won a grant, organising the first cross-community youth Astronomy Camp entitled “Under One Sky”. Since last year, as official implementing partners of UNMIK, ACK executed a series of youth astronomy outreach activities, introducing the wonders of the universe to over 1,200 young people from diverse communities.
Remembering astronaut Neil Armstrong, Suhel Ahmeti, Director of ACK, said that while the opening of the Observatory may seem like a small step for everyone present, it is a big leap for Kosovo. “A study found that if children from a young age start learning astronomy, it will have a good impact on their lives. With our solar telescope, night telescope and learning materials, we hope children and youth from different communities can come here and learn!” he said.
Astronomers from the region as well as other parts of the world conveyed their congratulations on the opening.