The observatory on Čolina Kapa

Austro-Hungarian authorities erected a number of military buildings between 1890 and 1910. A few were built on Mt. Trebević, including the most familiar fortifications – one later became part of Vraca Memorial Park and the other was the Bistrik Tower on Čolina Kapa.

After WWII these objects lost their military significance and in 1967 the Bistrik Tower was turned over to the University Astronomical Society. Soon after, an observatory was installed, which is still the only one of its kind in BiH.

Documents dealing with astronomical records in BiH date back to the 15th century, when the positions of the sun, moon and stars were followed by muvekits (timekeepers) from their homes and by dervishes from their lodges. Measurements were used to determine the precise time of prayers and to compile calendars.

During most of the 20th century, astronomy was part of the BiH curriculum with the subject, Cosmography, and there were occasional calls for an observatory to be set up. The Astronomy Academy-Astronaut Club was founded in 1963 by students and professors at the University of Sarajevo.

The first observatory in town

With time, the club became the University of Sarajevo Astronomical Society and by 1965 it had mounted a telescope on top of Dom Izviđača (now Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević Primary School), making it the first observatory in town.

From 1969 to 1972 two domes that contained instruments for monitoring the skies were installed up on Čolina Kapa and a planetarium with a telescope and a reflecting telescope were set up next to the tower.

The observatory (elev. 1,003 m) has a library, photo lab and all that visiting astronomers might need. The most important scientific project to be carried out here was the completion of Sarajevo Sky Atlas, a photographic star atlas.

Čolina Kapa offers a lovely view of Sarajevo, the surrounding slopes have been planted with trees and the trail and rest area for hikers have been fixed up. The nearby bob sled track was built before the Olympics.

Both the trail and observatory were badly damaged during the last war, as this area was right on the front line.

Once the war and the Siege of Sarajevo came to an end, there were plans to rebuild the Bistrik Tower, but the necessary funds have yet to materialize.

Those who founded the observatory, which has been home to the Orion Astronomical Society of Sarajevo since 2008, still hope that astronomy enthusiasts will soon reopen the doors to another symbol of Sarajevo.

World Space Week

The Orion Astronomical Society offers regular classes and viewings of astronomical phenomena throughout BiH and at a few locations in town. It also participates in global astronomy projects: for World Space Week (Oct. 5-10) half of the month will be dedicated to organizing an astronomy school for kids and October 21 is World Photonics Day.