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‘Spaceship’ observatory allows Cyprus stargazers a peek at the final frontier

July 4, 2024 4:19 PM IST

A new space observatory in Cyprus looks like it just uncloaked itself on the set of a sci-fi movie and is ready for takeoff.

Perched high on the Troodos mountains in the centre of the island and with an unobstructed view of the skies, the 1.77 million euro ($1.90 million) publicly funded Troodos Observatory was inaugurated in May.

Purveyors hope the project will encourage visitors to areas increasingly affected by urbanisation and broaden a depth of celestial knowledge.

Designed by sci-fi enthusiasts, architects and siblings Elena, Nicodemos and Cassandra Tsolakis, the similarity to a spaceship wasn’t intentional but the nature of the project instinctively and perceptively lends to that impression, says Elena Tsolakis.

Recently named by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as one of the 100 most influential female architects in the world, Tsolakis said each public space should tell a story and offer visitors a unique experience.

Blink and you could miss it.

Reflective cladding means that the angular structure overlooking the hamlet of Agridia could be hiding in plain sight, meshing seamlessly either with the terrain or the skies, depending on the angle of vision.

Nicodemos Tsolakis said the objective was to create an iconic building for the area that ‘disappeared’ into the landscape.

The observatory, part of the EU-backed Geostars project to regenerate isolated rural areas in parts of Cyprus and Greece, is equipped with a 20-inch reflective telescope on a robotic mount, the biggest on the island, and a solar telescope.

Astronomer Agapios Elia said the observatory has a futuristic design, and at an altitude of 1,200 metres, stargazers can see planets, distant galaxies and the surface of the moon in the night sky through the strong telescope.

A jutting protrusion which can be used as an astromarina for mobile telescopes looks like it is emerging from the earth.

Visitors could easily imagine it is ready to switch to warp speed. Engage!

(Reuters)

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