In the 30s of the past century a unique, perhaps the only in the world event occurred in Georgia – a very young man set up an astronomical institution – Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory on a completely uninhabited site. Later on he has directed the observatory himself for 60 years continuously and raised it to the international level of significance. This person was a noted scientist and organizer of science, an indomitable public figure, the founder of the Georgian school of astronomy, Honorary Director of Abastumani Observatory in 1992-2001, Academician Evgeni K. Kharadze.
E.K.Kharadze was born on October 31, 1907 in Tbilisi in the family of a professional worker. In 1930 he graduated from Tbilisi State University. Since 1949 he has been a Professor of the same University. As early as in his student days he worked at Tbilisi Geophysical Observatory as a weather forecaster. In this period he has had a chance of meeting with Director of Leningrad Theoretical Astronomy Institute Prof. B. Numerov, whose observant eye noticed just those features in him, that later became the pledge of his great scientific achievements.
This is a period when a task of establishment of the first mountain observatory in the USSR was set. Accordingly, a group of specialists from Leningrad came to Georgia to select a suitable for the observatory site.
The expedition, including Prof. Numerov’s future post-graduate course student E.Kharadze inspected a lot of mountainous places in Eastern Georgia and eventually chose Abastumani.
Thus, on February 8, 1932 the problem was solved – the first mountain astrophysical observatory in the USSR was founded on Mt.Kanobili. An entirely inexperienced, but a promising young scientist of 24 E.Kharadze was appointed the Director of actually non-existent observatory.
Practically, affairs have just only begun. There were neither the observatory nor the astronomical specialists. E.K. Kharadze himself was developing into a scientist of astronomy just at that time. Indescribable difficulties lay in wait, but a great desire as well as prospect became clearly seen.
How did E.K. Kharadze solve the problem he faced? One can say without any exaggeration – splendidly! Undoubtedly it is Abastumani astrophysical observatory of Georgian Academy of Sciences that has crowned the whole of his scientific work and exclusively multilateral public activities. It was just the process of construction of this scientific institution when the entire energy of E.K.Kharadze was being spent and his talent was flowering.
E.K. Kharadze’s thesis for master’s degree concerned the Study of P Cyg star. He has found that in the spectral of this object the shift of the spectral lines, characterizing the ejection velocities of atoms depends on the ionization potential of appropriate chemical elements. This was the first indication of element stratification in the extended atmospheres.
E.K. Kharadze has devoted one of his scientific papers to the investigation of the solar radiation. He was ascertained that variations of Balmer line profile widths depending on the solar activity are observed in the Solar Fraunhoffer spectra.
Basic scientific works of E.K.Kharadze are dedicated to the investigations of the Galaxy structure. The Observatory started its activity just with this problem. In particular, an interest was stimulated by a new and the most complex problem – investigation of the interstellar absorbing matter.
Shortly the first fundamental work (thesis for a Doctor’s degree), done by E.K. Kharadze in this respect, has brought the observatory to a widespread recognition. Academician G.Shein wrote about it as follows: “Publication of E.K. Kharadze’s work in 1952 (the catalogue of Color indices of 14 thousand stars and the investigation of light absorption in a Galaxy on the basis of color excesses of stars) is a great event in scientific astronomical literature. The results of long term investigations of the light absorption in the interstellar space, performed by E.K. Kharadze, are summarized in this work, due to which Abastumani observatory acquired an excellent reputation in one of actual branches of astronomy and astrophysics”.
In this connection the opinion of a well-known astronomer, Professor of Moscow University P.P. Parenago is of great interest. He wrote:”Now the Soviet astronomers take a leading role in the world science in the problem of interstellar absorption”. In the same place he added: ”At his newly founded observatory E.K. Kharadze has raised the observational culture up to such a height, other observatories have to compete with.”
Here we must emphasize the circumstance that only small-size astronomical devices were at the disposal of the newly founded observatory, but by the efforts of E.K. Kharadze they were always used together with the light detector apparatus being at the modem level of technical development. Besides, investigation methods were selected in such a skilful way that the obtained observational results were further successfully used in drawing important conclusions.
E.K. Kharadze has greatly contributed to the growth of other astronomical branches as well. Thanks to his great energy Abastumani observatory has developed into a multi profile institution of astronomical researches. Under his help, supervision and often immediate participation, significant scientific works are carried out by his staff members and numerous young followers in almost all branches of astronomy beginning from the solar system bodies ending in the extragalactic astronomy. New branches like plasma astrophysics and extra-atmospheric astronomy are presented as well.
At the same time E.K. Kharadze highly favored undertaking of new works in theoretical astrophysics at the observatory, now being successfully conducted by Academician J.G. Lominadze. It is sufficient to say that International Schooll “Varena-Abastumani-Nagoia” turned into a tradition at present and held every two years in different observatories and astronomical institutions is dedicated to theoretical studies of physical processes occurring in the vicinity of neutron stars and black holes.
The fact that E.K. Kharadze was elected Vice-President of International Astronomical Union (lAU) (1975-1982) points to a world-wide recognition of his scientific activities in astronomy. He was nominated even for election as President of IAU for next period, but he declined this proposal himself on account of his old age.
E.Kharadze’s wide erudition, a peerless talent in scientific organization and inexhaustible energy were at the bottom of the fact that he has been elected Academician of Georgian and USSR (now Russian) Academies of Sciences, Vice-President (1972-1977) and then President (1978-1986) of Georgian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Astronomy Chair of Tbilisi State University (for more than 50 years) and its Rector (1959-1965).
While holding these high posts he indomitably took care of the development of Georgian fundamental sciences. At the same time he was doing his best to direct the development of sciences to the solving of economic, social and cultural problems in our country. E.K. Kharadze has played an important role in the cause of strengthening the authority of Georgian Academy of Sciences and the I.A. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.
More than once E.K. Kharadze was elected Head of various scientific public organizations and editor of scientific journals. This activity was successfully combined with his active scientific and pedagogical work. It is noteworthy that he is the author of quite original and published several times courses (textbooks) for schools and higher educational institutions.
Academician E.K Kharadze’s scientific and public activities are highly valued in the world. In connection with his ninetieth anniversary, his pupil the well-known Danish scientist, Astronomer Richard West wrote to him as follows: “Thanks to your exquisite diplomatic features and marvelous knowledge of foreign languages you have gained an exceptional prestige among your foreign colleagues. I am especially amazed, and consider it likewise significant, at your steadfast and successful endeavour to make the young generation of your country love our science. The fact that astronomy became part of the educational program in Georgia many years earlier than it happened in most of other highly developed countries has not been unnoticed abroad.” Here it must be noted as well that as a token of high respect for his teacher R.West named one of the asteroids found by him after “Kharadze”.
Or else, Academician of Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Boyarchuk wired the following: “For each of us you have been and remain to be a faithful friend, a wise teacher and a true intellectual. Many of us are very luck’)’ that the fate has willed to meet you and we hope to be fated for many years to come.
For my part, I would like to mention that the author of the present paper has been fortunate for 55 years to be at first a student and a postgraduate, then the nearest scientific worker and for 35 years Deputy Director (in scientific activities) of this unordinary person. I have always been startled at his titanic energy and immense efficiency.
Prof. E.K Kharadze was an exceptionally reserved person, the intellectual of fine breeding. He was endowed with great patience and talent of a skillful debater. Just these features helped him to endure chivalrously the well known to everybody period of immoral, rude assaults upon the intellectuals to remain a worthy citizen and patriot of his country.
E.Kharadze died on October 10, 2001. That day a great epoch in the history of Georgian Astronomy, begun by a dreamer youth of 24 Geno Kharadze and finished by a venerable scientist of 94 years old, Academician Evgeni KKharadze, came to an end.
PRINCIPAL DATA OF LIFE AND ACTIVITY OF ACADEMICIAN E.K.KHARADZE
1907 October 31 – was born in Tbilisi, in the family of a railway man.
1924-1928 Completed the Highest Courses in Foreign Languages (English Language
1925- Entered the Physical-Mathematical Faculty, Tbilisi State University.
1927-1931 – Worked in the Georgian Geophysical Observatory filling the post of a calculator.
1930-Graduated from Tbilisi State University and filled the position of an assistant at the chair of Astronomy.
1930-1931 Worked as a weather forecaster at the Transcaucasia Hydrometeorological Service,
in the Weather Forecast Bureau. 1931-1934 Was a post-graduate of Leningrad State
Since 1932 – Director of Abashmlani Astrophysical Observatory, Academy of Sciences of Georgian SSR.
1936-Defended the candidate thesis in Leningrad State University.
1936-2001 – Professor of the Chair of Astronomy, Tbilisi State University.
1937-1997 – Head of Astronomy Chair of Mechanical- Mathematical Faculty, Tbilisi State University.
Since 1946 -Member of the Georgian Society for the Dissemination of Political and Scientific Knowledge (“Tsodna”) (“Znanie”), since1976 – Chairman of the same Society and member of the All Union Society “Znanie” Board.
1948-Defended the Doctor thesis at Moscow State University, April, 1949 – the scientific degree of Doctor of Physics and Mathematics was conferred on him.
– Took part in the work of the Seventh International Astronomical Congress (Zurich, Switzerland).
1950-Was elected Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (GSSR).
– Took part in the work of Congress of Polish Astronomers (Vrozlav, Poland)
I 952- Took part in work of the Eighth Astronomical Congress (Rome,Italy).
1955- Was elected member of the Academy of Sciences of GSSR.
1959-1965 – Rector of the Tbilisi State University.
1959-1972 – Chairman of the Commission on Stellar Astronomy of Astronomical Council, Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
1959-1973 – Vice-Chairman of the All-Union Astronomical-Geodesic Society.
1960-1988 – Member of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of GSSR.
1961- The title of Honorary Scientist of the GSSR was conferred.
– Took part in a work of XI International Congress of Astronomers (Berkly, USA).
196 I -1967 – Was elected member of the Committee on Lenin Prizes in a field of Science and Technique at the Council of Ministers of the USSR; in 1979, August – was again elected member of the Committee on Lenin and State Prizes in a field of Science and Technique (Technology) at the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
Since 1965 up to last days of his life – member of the Main Editorial Board of the Georgian Soviet Encyclopaedia.
1965-1970 – Vice-Chairman of the All-Union Astronomical-Geodesic Society.
1967 – Was elected member of the Presidium of Academy of Sciences of GSSR.
1967-1989 – Editor-in-chief of the Journal “Bulletin of Academy of Sciences of GSSR”.
1972-1988 – Vice-Chairman of the Academy of Sciences of GSSR.
1972-1989 – Chairman of Editorial-Publishing Council of the Academy of Sciences of GSSR.
1973 – Vice-Chairman of the Committee in State Prizes in a Field of Science and Technology at
the Council of Ministers of GSSR.
1974 – Was rewarded with medal of N.Copernicus.
1975-1977 – Chairman of the Georgian Society of Book Amateurs. 1976 – Was elected Vice-Chairman of International Astronomical Union for 7-year period.
– Was rewarded with medal of 1. Gogebashvili.
1978- Was elected member of Scientific Council of “Physics of the Sun-Earth Links” problems and member of Expert Committee of Prize of A.Belopolsky at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR
1978 – 1986 – President of the Academy of Sciences of Georgian SSR.
1979 – Was elected Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
– Was rewarded with Prize of A.Belopolsky.
– Was elected member of the Committee of the World Defence.
1983 – The Honored Scientist of the Armenian SSR.
– Honorary member of the Georgian Historical Society.
1984 – Was elected member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
1985 – Was elected the Honorary Member of the All-Union Geographical Society in Kiev.
1986 – Was rewarded with the Diploma of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of GSSR.
– October 15 was relieved of post of the President of the Academy of Sciences of GSSR at his personal request.
1992 – Was relieved of post of Director of Abastunlani Astrophysical Observatory and was appointed the Honorary Director of the Observatory.
1997 – Was rewarded with order of Honour.
Since 1999 – Honorary President of the Georgian Society of History of Science.
2001, October 10 – died.
– Abastunlani Astrophysical Observatory was named after E. K. Kharadze.
– The 2nd railway schooll of Kharagauli was named after E.K.Kharadze.
– The school of village of Partskhnali was named after Archil and Evgeni Kharadze.
2003 – The Astronomy cabinet of the Javakhisvili Tbilisi State University (room N1208, tall building) was named after E.K.Kharadze.