OA UJ AIRUB SFB 591 Kaercher
 SFB 591
Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland
September 27 - October 01, 2004

All contributions are available from ADS.

The Jagiellonian University and its traditions
The Jagiellonian University is one of the oldest in Europe. It was founded in 1364 by King Casimir the Great, who performed great reforms in Poland: a popular proverb says that "He found Poland made of wood and left it made of bricks". In fact his reign was a period of a great political and economic consolidation after two dark centuries of internal divisions and dynastic wars. Most of the towns gained solid city walls, and gothic churches and castles were built across the country. One of the important tasks was the consolidation and unification of regional and traditional laws: one major aim of the University was to educate the body of lawyers needed for this important task.

After the premature death of the king in 1370, the University went into a period of stagnation and degradation until about 1400. Then Queen Jadwiga dying young after the birth of a daughter made a large donation for the restoration of the University, which then entered its golden era. In the 15th century the Jagiellonian University joined the small group of Universities worldwide in which mathematics and astronomy were the leading faculties. By the end of that century, the University had a famous student: Nicolas Copernicus. In the 19th century, when Poland was occupied by neighbouring Empires, the University of Cracow was lucky to continue these traditions retaining the Polish language and being a centre for Polish science and culture.
Astronomical Observatory
At the end of 18th century one of two famous brothers, Jan Sniadecki, mathematician and astronomer became a professor of the Jagiellonian University. In 1791 he founded the Astronomical Observatory in the outskirts (at that time) of Cracow. Sniadecki's observational diary from 1792 can still be seen in the Observatory Library. The building still exists, though no astronomical facilities are present anymore. The old building
Fort Rock Over a period of centuries the Observatory became gradually engulfed in the expanding town. Observing conditions were already so bad in the 1930s that an observing station at Mt. Lubomir was founded. It was completely destroyed by fire during World War II. Shortly after the war, in 1953, an old Austrian fort called "Fort Skala" (Fort Rock), was donated to the Jagiellonian University by the Polish Army as an observing station.
In 1954 pioneering radio observations of the solar eclipse were made there, and in 1957 the radio telescope constructed for that purpose started its regular multi-frequency monitoring of the solar radio emission, continued in a systematic way until the present. The 8m radiotelescope
The 15m radiotelescope In the early 1960s the Observatory got more instrumentation in addition to its historical 19th century equipment: the 15m radio telescope (now used to train students), the 32 cm Maksutov telescope and a 50 cm Cassegrain reflector. The latter, now furnished with a modern CCD camera, works actively in the fields of variable stars, spectrophotometry of comets and also for experiments with speckle interferometry. This site became the main location of the Astronomical Observatory in the 1970s. 50cm Cassegrain telescope
The present-day Observatory conducts modern astrophysical research in four departments:
  • High Energy Astrophysics: acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays, solar physics, physics of the terrestrial magnetosphere; X-ray astronomy of Galactic neutron star and black hole binaries; studies of accretion via X-ray spectra; investigations of the accretion disk corona
  • Stellar and Extragalactic Astronomy: variable stars, comets and combined radio-optical studies of AGNs
  • Radio Astronomy: radio polarization studies of our Galaxy as well as nearby spirals and irregulars, large radio galaxies and cluster-scale magnetic fields
  • Cosmology: physics of the Early Universe
The Astronomical Observatory has now an extensive network of international cooperations. Among them we collaborate with the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie in Bonn, the Astronomisches Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the Observatoire Paris-Meudon, the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, the Observatoire de Besanšon. Among the collaborations, the physics of galaxies and in particular of their magnetized plasma belong to the most important topics.

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