It is believed that the
development of astronomy at V.N.Karazin Kharkov National University
began in 1808, when a special room devoted to astronomy studies
was opened. In 1824 the Chair of astronomy was founded at Kharkov
University. P.A.Zateplinskiy (1794-1834) was the first head of this
department. In fact P.A.Zateplinskiy was the first Russian scientist
who was awarded a Ph.D. degree of the University of Paris ( the
famed Sorbonne. After he came back to Russia, he was nominated as
the first professor of astronomy of Kharkov University. In the middle
of the nineteenth century a great event took place in Russian astronomical
Ya. Struve (1793-1864), the founder of Pulkovo Observatory, initiated
observations the major goal of which was to measure the degree of
arc of the so-called "Russian meridian". Astronomers of Kharkov
University took active part in this campaign under the supervision
of Prof. Shidlovskij A.P. (1818-1892).
In 1883 the permanent Astronomical Observatory of Kharkov University was founded by Prof. Levitskiy G.V. (1852-1917).For more than two decades, from 1894 to 1915, Ludwig O. Struve (1858-1920), a grandson of the aforementioned astronomer Vasiliy Ya. Struve, was the head of the Chair of Astronomy of Kharkov University and the director of Astronomical Observatory. He was a founder of Kharkov scientific school in the field of astrometry and stellar astronomy. Honoured Scientist of Ukraine Prof. Evdokimov N.N. (1868-1941), State Prize Winner of the USSR Kavrayskiy V.V. (1884-1954), Honoured Science and Engineering Worker of the RSFSR Kudrevich B.I. (18..-19..) were outstanding representatives of this school. Famous astrophysicists Acad. Fessenkov V.G. (1889-1972) (he was the founder of planetary astronomy at Kharkov Observatory), Prof. Gerassimovich B.P. (1889-1937) (he was the Director of Pulkovo Observatory in the 1930's), American astronomer Otto Struve (1897-1963) (he was a son of Ludwig O. Struve and he headed a number of American astronomical institutions and served as President of the International Astronomical Union in 1952-1955), Acad. of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Barabashov N.P.(1894-1971) were Prof. Struve's students and disciples.
Acad. Barabashov N.P., the founder of the world wide-known Kharkov school of planetary science, successfully continued researches of physical conditions of the Moon and other planets of the solar system begun by Acad. Fessenkov V.G.
Information about the Moon's surface, Martian atmosphere, studies of the photometric properties of atmospheres of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn obtained by the researchers of Kharkov Observatory in the 1930-60`s ensured greater efficiency in the first planetary space program planning. Astronomers of Kharkov National University took part in the preparation and reduction of the results of almost all spaceborne researches of the Moon, Mars, Venus and Halley Comet carried out in the USSR. Acad. Barabashov was one of the editors of the three-volume "Atlas of the Moon's far side". Hard work on the creation of data output necessary for the design of spacecraft astronavigation systems was performed in 1967-1988 by the scientists of Kharkov National University.
At the same time astrometrical position measurements were continued. In 1935 the first spectroheliograph of our country was designed, and then the Solar Patrol was organized, and the studies of solar activity and solar physics were started. Since 1929 the Kharkov Time Service that is a component of the International Time Service began its daily routine work.
In the late 1960's a new scientific trend (working out of ground-based and space data processing technique) began to develop, and a number of applied scientific tasks were solved, in particular, reduction of space images of the Moon, Mars, Venus. Now on the basis of this technique the studies of gravitational lenses are being carried out.
Studies of the solar system bodies, based on the combination of the Earth-based and space observations which are obtained as a result of space missions of the Clementine (the Moon), Magellan (Venus), and Global surveyor spacecrafts (Mars) are being continued. Information about optical and radiophysical surface properties of the Moon and Venus is used to result in their chemical-mineralogical and geological characteristics. As a consequence, a lot of unique maps of the Moon and terrestrial planets Mars and Venus are created by Kharkov astronomers today. In addition, these works are accompanied by the diverse theoretical and laboratory methods that can provide significant information about the scattering of light reflected by the rough surfaces.
Astronomers of Kharkov National University work in close co-operation with their colleagues from the special astronomical institutions of Ukraine, Russia (and other countries of the former USSR), the USA, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Poland.
Scientific research and educational process in Kharkov National University are associated. About ten students finish their astronomical studies every year. For five post-war decades about 400 qualified astronomers graduated from Kharkov National University. Most astronomy students are not going to make career in astronomical research, nevertheless, about 50 of our graduate students have been awarded the Candidate degree, and more than ten persons were awardet the Doctor degree. It is important that joined observational and research work of the scientists of Astronomical Observatory, the teachers and astronomical students is actively encouraged.
Professor Yurij V. Aleksandrov