About us

Astronomical Observatory (hereafter, the Observatory) is the oldest scientific institute in Serbia that engages in professional research in the field of astronomy. It is one of the oldest active scientific institutions not only in our country but also in Southeastern Europe, and the largest astronomical institution in the Western Balkans.

It was founded on April 7, 1887, together with the Meteorological and Seismological Observatory. The initiator of the establishment of the Observatory and its first director was Milan Nedeljković, and the main building of the Observatory on Zvezdara was erected during the tenure of Dr. Vojislav Mišković, the first Serbian doctor of astronomy. Among the directors of the Observatory, the most prominent in terms of scientific contribution was Dr. Milutin Milanković (1879 - 1958), who led the Observatory from 1951. Since May 2023, this position has been held by Prof. Dr. Luka Č. Popović.

The Astronomical and Meteorological Observatories separated in 1924 into two separate institutes. From 1929 to 1932, the complex of the Astronomical Observatory was built at its current location. The hill on which the Observatory is located, as well as the municipality, were later named Zvezdara, after the Serbian word for observatory, "zvezdarnica." The complex of the Observatory with all its pavilions was designed by the Czech architect Jan Dubovi. Due to the exceptional architectural value of the complex, the Government of the Republic of Serbia declared the Astronomical Observatory a cultural monument.
The scientific research and other professional activities at the Observatory have been following the current global trends in the field of astronomy since its establishment. Initially, the focus was on observational activities such as determining accurate time and geographical coordinates, creating star catalogs, and discovering and calculating the orbits of small bodies in the Solar System and binary stars. With the development of astrophysics, the Observatory also began regular observations of solar activity and variable stars.

Until the first half of the 1990s, the Observatory achieved remarkable successes in astronomical observations. The 65 cm refractor was one of the best optical instruments for astronomical observations in Europe. Observational work was carried out with eight other telescopes: Small refractor, Small passage instrument, Zenith telescope, Astrograph, Photovisual refractor, as well as the Large meridian circle, Large passage instrument, and Large vertical circle.

The rapid expansion of the urban core and the urbanization of the Zvezdara municipality led to deteriorating observing conditions. Light pollution, air pollution, and increased aerosol concentration have reduced the quality of atmospheric conditions for observational work. Observational work is now carried out in collaboration with other observatories, such as the European Southern Observatory, the Special Astrophysical Observatory, etc. The Observatory is also involved in a series of large research projects and astronomical infrastructures, such as the LSST sky survey.

Currently, the Observatory conducts observations at the Astronomical Station (AS) Vidojevica near Prokuplje, at a location with significantly more favorable astroclimatic conditions. AS Vidojevica has three telescopes, the largest of which is the Milananković Telescope, with a diameter of 1.4 m.
Research at the Observatory covers all areas of astronomy and astrophysics, from studies of the nearby cosmos (the Solar System, the Sun, and bodies within the Solar System) to galaxies, quasars, and cosmology.

The Observatory fosters extensive international collaboration and produces impactful scientific results published in leading international journals in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, physics, and Earth sciences. Recently, a sector for space research and technology, as well as for climate changes, solar activity, and light pollution, has been developed, for conducting research of a more practical nature.

Research at the Observatory is funded by the Ministry of Science, Technological Development, and Innovation of the Republic of Serbia. Currently, two of our projects are funded by the National Science Fund.

Directors of the Observatory:

  • Milan Nedeljković, from 1887 to 1899 and from 1900 to 1924
  • Đorđe Stanojević, from 1899 to 1900
  • Vojislav Mišković, from 1925 to 1946 and from 1951 to 1955
  • Milutin Milanković, from 1948 to 1951
  • Milorad Protić, from 1956 to 1960 and from 1971 to 1975
  • Vasilije Oskanjan, from 1964 to 1965
  • Pero Đurković, from 1965 to 1971
  • Milan Mijatov, from 1977 to 1981
  • Miodrag Mitrović, from 1982 to 1989
  • Ištvan Vince, from 1989 to 1993
  • Milan Dimitrijević, from 1994 to 2002
  • Zoran Knežević, from 2003 to 2014
  • Gojko Ðurašević, from 2015 to 2022
  • Luka Č. Popović, from 2023