Russian-Cuban observatory opened in Havana

Media, 17 January 2022

On 14 January 2022, JINR Director Grigory Trubnikov took part in the festive opening ceremony of the Russian-Cuban Observatory (RCO) located in the park of the Cuban Institute of Geophysics and Astronomy (IGA, Havana). The event was timed with the Day of Cuban Science and the IGA jubilee.

“This work can be truly regarded as one of the brightest examples of active strengthening of cooperation between the Republic of Cuba and the Russian Federation”, Grigory Trubnikov noted in his video address. He initiated and actively supported the Russian-Cuban scientific and technical cooperation when he held the post of the First Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

“The observatory built by joint efforts is a decent proof that international scientific partnership is necessary and relevant at all levels, including research institutes, agencies, and ministries,” the JINR Director highlighted.

Minister of Science, Technology, and Environment Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, heads of the Environment Agency, as well as heads and employees of the IGA took part in the festive ceremony on behalf of the Republic of Cuba. Acting Director of the RAS Institute of Astronomy Mikhail Sachkov and Director of the RAS Institute of Applied Astronomy Dmitry Ivanov congratulated colleagues on opening the observatory from the Russian part.

The new RCO will have two autonomous units, one of them – a robotised observatory at the IGA site – festively opened today. In the future, the second, full-service observatory will be built and equipped in Picadura, 80 km southeast of Havana.

The observatory in Havana has a wide-angle 20-cm robot-telescope to carry out astronomic observations of the widest possible class of natural and man-made space objects. The receiver of the observatory receives high-precision geodetic data in real-time mode around the clock.

The future RCO unit in Picadura will have even larger and more advanced tools. For example, there will be a wide-angle precision telescope with a receiving aperture of a size of 1 metre. This is 5 times larger in size and 25 times larger in the collecting data area compared to the 20-cm telescope in Havana.

The idea of creating the observatory appeared in 2017, when three research organizations of the two countries, namely the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences ( Moscow, Russia), the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the Institute of Geophysics and Astronomy of Cuba, signed fundamental documents on cooperation.

The RCO was built and commissioned in November 2021 within the framework of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Cuba on the scientific-technical and innovative cooperation signed on 3 October 2019 in the priority field “Astronomy and space”. One of the main objectives of the Russian-Cuban Observatory is to search for sources of gravitational waves and warn about asteroid-comet danger.