ΑΣΤΕΡΟΣΚΟΠΕΙΟ ΑΡΚΑΔΙΑΣ (ASTRO-TOURISM)
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Association of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics of Asea
Astronomy and natural phenomenon tourism is not a new concept. People have been travelling for centuries to visit the ancient observatories at Stonehenge and Machu Picchu, and head into the Tuscan hills to see what Galileo saw through one of the world’s first telescopes. Indeed, the constellations and the zodiac were mapped out long before the invention of the telescope.
Perhaps the lure of attempting to understand a phenomenon over which we have no control is part of the attraction of astronomy. Today, this intrigue has been transformed into a form of tourism that, although being a niche, it follows events so great that mankind can have no impact on their existence. While the effect of tourism on the earth’s fragile ecosystems continues to generate much debate, the products that make up astrotourism are almost untouchable, and remain one of the world’s great certainties. The precise time of an eclipse, the passing of a commit, solar flares and many more astronomical phenomena are known years in advance.
As remote locations around the world become more accessible, and demand for unique experiences increases, more and more destinations offering access to natural spectacles will experience increased visitor numbers from around the world. Astrotourism is diverse in so far as some events (such as eclipses, comets) are outside of the control of destinations, while others (such as stargazing) can be developed if the conditions are right.
Ideally located in the center of the Peloponnese on an altitude of 900m, with ideal Dark-Sky conditions, Asea, an Arcadian village is an ideal destination for astronomical observations and star gazing. In 2013, a group of Engineers and Scientists from Asea, got together and we formed a nonprofit organization named, the “Association of Astrophysics of Asea”. Since then, the association has organized many seminars, lectures and astronomy nights with large telescopes, providing the children living in the region as well as the local population, a chance to learn and experience the wonders of the night sky and educate them in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
To further develop our educating capabilities and also to help develop and support astro-tourism in our region, we have created an innovative design of a 3 meter dome and we are planning to construct this 3 meter dome observatory in a very beautiful hill next to to Asea's elementary school.
Our Association’s civil and electrical engineering members have completed the architectural, electrical and electronic designed for the observatory and will fully supervise its construction. In addition, the city council of Tripolis (Arcadia) has unanimously granted our Association the right of use of the land site selected for the construction of the observatory at the top of the hill, next to the school of Asea. All these contributions have reduced the total cost of construction to 1/3 of the price it would have otherwise costed. In other words, the funding we are seeking for the construction of the observatory will cover only, the cost of the materials, the cost of the specialized workers needed in the construction process and the purchase of the telescope and necessary computer system.
Our observatory will be mounted with a 12' Schmidt Cassegrain telescope capable of connecting to a computer and a camera. The telescope will be strong enough to allow us to obtain great views of planets, nebulas, globular and open star clusters, galaxies and very deep sky objects, while at the same time it will display on the computer screen the images for the purpose of making it easier for students and astro-enthusiasts to "get right to it" and have fun so that they can become enthusiastic about Science and the diversity of the world around us. Astro-tourists, will be able to make a brief video of what they observed as well as take pictures of astronomical sites that are of particular interest to them.
Strategically located between Tripoli and Kalamata, the observatory of Asea will be the only regional observatory open to the public in the Peloponnese. Additionally, because Asea is also a place full with archeological treasures, ancient temples and beautiful chestnut and oak forests, we expect that the observatory will not only act as a beacon attracting astro-tourists from all over Europe seeking to admire its breathtaking night sky, but will also generate interest among scholars that prefer remote, quiet and relaxing places to hold their specialized conferences.
All the above lead us to the conclusion that this project fulfills all the necessary requirements that will make it a success and a point of attraction in the region.
Having obtained the City councils approval to utilize the selected land site for the construction of the observatory, we do not foresee any issues that could cause the delay of the construction, once we have procured the necessary financing.
Due to the nature of the project and the procurement of the right to use the selected site by the city council, we foresee no risks associated with the project that could lead to the project not being completed.
Our aim is to construct an observatory that will not only attract astro-turists from around Europe, but will also act as a beacon for schools around the region, that will bring their students on a one day field trip to our facility. Thus, we have three primary target markets: Students: Schools in the region will be targeted by email and phone, informing them as well as the regions school board that our facility has begun its operation and schools will be incurraged to include our facility as a one day field trip. During this trip, they will get a firsthand idea of what astronomers do and be introduced to the wonders of the night sky. Individual & Group Astro-tourist: We will promote our facility and its uniqueness to Astro-tourist around the world, through the use of social media, promotions on astro-tourist websites, as well as specialized astronomical sites, with presentations prepared by our Associations members. All our actions will be geared around getting our facility and its unique characteristics known quickly around the world, in order to attract as much interest as possible. In Addition, we aim to inform of our facility all major astronomy university departments, that may require a facility and a location to hold one of their conferences.
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The scientific Association of Astrophysics of Asea was founded in 2013 and became a legal entity in 2015. It consists of members who have have a degree in Engineering, Physics or Mathematics and come from Arcadia. The base of the association is Asea, a mountain village, 20km south of Tripolis, the capital of Arcadia and at the center of Peloponnese. Dimitris Dimopoulos is the general secretary of the administrative committee of the association, he received his diploma in Civil Engineering from the National Technological University of Athens in 2007 with specialisation in hydraulic constructions and enviroment. He has participated as an engineer, in construction projects in Greece, Norway and Bulgaria and he has written enviromental essays for Arcadia. In 2013 he has excelled in the academic entrance exams and was admitted in the Physics department of the University of Athens, where he studies astrophysics. He is a founder member of the Astrophysics Association of Asea.