Calling down the moon

Young physicist from Minsk, Vladislav Popov (a Grand Prix winner at 21st Century Talents contest of sci-tech art) asserts that technicians’ imagination has no lack of romanticism

By Maria Burmistrova

The Minsk lyceum graduate brought two telescopes (assembled independently) to the St. Petersburg contest, while also presenting his research in the field of astronomy. Vladislav has only been studying the cosmos for just under a year but already boasts a collection of awards — worthy of any acknowledged and experienced astrologer.

The young man discovered his ‘astronomic’ capabilities by chance. “Everything began when I decided to surprise a girlfriend by showing her the sky at night,” he recollects. “I needed a telescope, so decided to assemble a device from available materials. I rolled a tube from a large map and placed an ordinary lens (from a pair of glasses) inside. Late in the evening, we went beyond the city lights to watch shooting stars…”

Unsurprisingly, his sweetheart loved the idea. Meanwhile, Vladislav was so impressed by the results of his home-made telescope that he decided to take the hobby further. He began reading specialised literature and saved money he would usually have spent on food in order to buy parts for his telescopes. In the evening, when the sky was clear, he would travel beyond the city to observe the stars and planets. Within a short period of time, he had learnt the layout of the night sky, easily locating the Hunting Dogs and the Andromeda Nebula.

“After I’d studied all the constellations, I was keen to look deeper into the cosmos,” he explains. “I spent all my savings on items for my telescope, finding them at the market or on the Internet. Eventually, I assembled a device able to observe not only stars but the surface of some planets in the Solar System.”

Vladislav admits that he couldn’t sleep on the night he finally seen the surface of the Moon — the largest cosmic object he has been able to observe. Some time later, his photo album gained its first picture of our lunar satellite. In the course of time, he ‘reached’ Jupiter, Saturn and, even, the Sun. Amazingly, Vladislav’s telescope has enabled him to calculate the chemical composition of the Sun’s atmosphere.

Vladislav took his research to the 21st Century Talents contest of sci-tech art, winning its Grand Prix. Interestingly, his new hobby has enabled him to choose his future profession: he is now a first year student at the Belarusian State University’s Physics Department. Speaking of whether he has any time for other forms of relaxation, he tells us, “Solving physical problems and experimentation are my favourite way of spending my free time. I can hardly part with an astronomy or physics textbook, even in summer. New discoveries allure me. Just imagine how wonderful it is to find a solution to a complicated problem, which may take weeks to solve, or the delight of discovering a new celestial body with the help of a telescope.”

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