Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Visnjan Observatory

Total Croatia News

Copyright Romulić and Stojčić
Visnjan Observatory
Visnjan Observatory

December 11, 2020 – A crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising 635,000 kuna was launched to expand the existing and build the new educational capacities of the Visnjan Observatory, the third-best in the world in the number of detected asteroids that are a potential threat to life on Earth.

Located on the edge of the western Istrian plateau, Visnjan Observatory is probably the most prominent Croatian organization that has educated future Croatian scientists for several decades.

At the beginning of December, a group of volunteers launched a large crowdfunding campaign in its favor and in favor of the Astronomical Society of Visnjan, the association that manages the Observatory. The goal is to raise 635,000 kuna by the end of December, and the Astronomical Society Visnjan will invest the donated funds in the construction of new education facilities.

The worth of investing in children

If the campaign raises 300,000 kuna, a new geodetic dome will be built, which will enable the maintenance of larger educational and practical programs. If the campaign reaches the target of 635,000 kuna, additional bungalows will be built where the Visnjan Observatory will accommodate a larger number of children, their professors, and mentors.


Visnjan Observatory / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

In case the collected amounts exceed the target amount of 635,000 kuna, the head of the Visnjan Observatory, prominent Croatian astronomer Korado Korlević plans to establish a location for testing robotic telescopes and additional capacity to accommodate students. This award-winning communicator and selfless knowledge-giver, at the same time, one of the most successful asteroid hunters in the world, believes that investing in children is the most significant and only investment worth working for.

Educating future NASA scientists

The Visnjan Observatory is Croatian pride at the global level, both scientifically and educationally. For forty years, it has been at the very top of the world in tracking and detecting asteroids, which are potentially very dangerous for life on planet Earth. That is why this small Observatory in the heart of Istria is even ahead of the American NASA.

During 2018 and 2019, the Observatory discovered and documented over 1,400 asteroids. However, although the monitoring and detection of asteroids is a significant scientific activity of the Visnjan Observatory, for Croatia, it is even more important for educating children and youth about science, technology, and the entire STEM field.

So far, thousands of primary and secondary school students have attended educational programs here. Some of these children are now adults working as scientists in prominent Croatian and world scientific institutions, such as NASA and JPL.


Visnjan Observatory / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

Some of today’s scientists who discovered the first mysteries of the cosmos as kids attending the educational programs of the Visnjan Observatory are Mario Jurić and Vernesa Smolčić. Today, Mario Jurić is s professor and director of the DiRac Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.

“Schools and work in Visnjan have shown me that there are no limits to possibilities. They have shown me that with a lot of work, creativity, self-belief, and great mentors, a group of kids from Croatia can build something competitive with the strongest observatories in the world. Let us never ask ourselves can we do something, but rather how we could do it,” says Jurić.

Today, Vernesa Smolčić is an astrophysicist and a professor at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb.

“Visnjan was my turning point in terms of breaking down mental limitations. With Korado, everything just clicked in me,” says Smolčić.


Visnjan Observatory / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

Gala dinner awaits big donors

Visnjan Observatory has managed to do all this with very modest capacities, based on volunteer work and donations. That is why this crowdfunding campaign is one of the larger actions taken to make the Visnjan Observatory accept, accommodate, and educate a significantly larger number of children and youth in its educational camps as early as 2021.

“I invite science lovers and people in Croatia and abroad who care about the education of our children about science and technology to support the campaign with donations, as much as anyone can. You can donate any amount, say 25 kunas or more. If you can’t donate now or later, it also helps to share a link to an ongoing campaign. We hope that large donors will join too because an exclusive gala dinner with Korado Korlević has been prepared for them,” said Aco Momčilović, head of the crowdfunding campaign.

Donations can be given on the Croatian platform, and the contribution can be paid via a simple payment slip, via internet banking, credit cards, and even via cryptocurrencies. By writing this article, 50 percent of the targeted funds, or 306,000 kunas, had been raised.


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