Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

BELISSIMA Report Summary

Project ID: 256772
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Serbia

Final Report Summary - BELISSIMA (BELGRADE INITIATIVE FOR SPACE SCIENCE, INSTRUMENTATION AND MODELLING IN ASTROPHYSICS)

Executive Summary:
BELISSIMA (BELgrade Initiative for Space Science, Instrumentation and Modelling in Astrophysics) is the FP7 REGPOT project of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade (AOB), one of the oldest scientific institutes in Serbia. The project was officially launched in July 2010 and ran for 72 months which includes two extensions of the project related to the construction and purchase of the 1.40 m telescope.

The area of activity of the project is astronomy and astrophysics and the main contribution of the BELISSIMA project comes from two interconnected activities: (i) increasing available human resources of the AOB through recruiting of three experienced researchers, and (ii) increasing the observational capacities of the AOB through purchase of the "Milankovic" telescope with the main mirror of 1.40 m constructed with the state-of-the-art optical and electronic technology and installed at the mountain Vidojevica observing facility (1155 m above the sea level) to ensure future cutting-edge research and training.

The contributions of the three recruited researchers cover various observational and technical efforts related to the already existing 60 cm telescope and the new 1.40 m telescope (Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic), and theoretical efforts related to complex cosmological simulations of galaxies (Dr. Miroslav Micic) and emission lines of neutral carbon in molecular clouds (Dr. Milica Micic). Their work has opened new avenues for research in astronomy in Serbia and a number of young researchers, PhD students, joined them in their activities thus making new research teams at the AOB. Their collaborations with multiple foreign researchers and organizations provided the opportunity for the AOB to improve the cutting-edge research performed in Europe and elsewhere today. Numerous visits of the members of the AOB staff to European observatories and institutes for the purpose of training were organized, as well as visits of several foreign experts to the AOB.

The mounting of the new 1.40 m telescope "Milankovic" in May 2016, provides new opportunities for Serbian astronomers to perform various types of observations (for example, to continue the already existing programs of observations of double stars, but also to initiate new projects related to the observations of nearby galaxies and extrasolar planets), and also to become a part of the worldwide network of telescopes. "Milankovic" is at the moment one of the best telescopes in Europe. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia participated with additional funds in the purchase of the telescope and also provided the funds for the construction of the pavilion in which the telescope is mounted.

Within the BELISSIMA project numerous activities related to the forging of new research associations and dissemination of AOB results were organized: one executive meeting was organized at the very beginning of the project (September 2010), two BELISSIMA workshops were organized (October 2011 and June 2016) and the most important meeting was the large international BELISSIMA conference held in Belgrade in September 2012: the proceedings of this conference printed by the AOB and distributed worldwide provided the opportunity to present the activities of AOB astronomers and the plans for the future which will be marked by the new 1.40 m telescope "Milankovic". The proceedings of the two workshops were printed on optical disks which will enable wider dissemination not only of the information about the project, but also the relevant information for future activities, especially those targeted at our regional and international collaborators and prospective users of the new facility.

For the purpose of popularization of science and the work of the AOB, within the BELISSIMA project, six TV programmes were produced which are dedicated to the presentation of the AOB and BELISSIMA; the brochure which presents the AOB and BELISSIMA was printed in English and in Serbian; and the multimedia DVD of the BELISSIMA project was printed and widely distributed. With the successful launch of the "Milankovic" telescope, one can expect that the already important scientific output will be significantly stronger in the near future. The same applies to the production in the area of dissemination and promotion of astronomy and related sciences.

Project Context and Objectives:
BELISSIMA (BELgrade Initiative for Space Science, Instrumentation and Modelling in Astrophysics) is the project of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade (AOB), one of the oldest scientific institutes in Serbia and the only autonomous astronomical and astrophysical institute in the entire Western Balkans region. It was founded jointly with the Meteorological Observatory on 7 April 1887. The first publication of the AOB -- Annuaire de l’Obs. Astr. Belgrade appeared in 1929, followed by Memoires de l’Obs. Astr. Belgrade three years later. From 1929, the AOB has been located at its present campus, in the nearly 10 ha area at 253 m hill Veliki Vracar, named since, along with the entire surrounding part of Belgrade, Zvezdara ("Starry Hill"). Among the many directors of the AOB the most distinguished is certainly Milutin Milankovic, famous by his decisive contribution to both the celestial mechanics and the global climate theory, who headed the Observatory in the 1948-1951 period. With decades long optical observation tradition the AOB has however been in the last period mainly focused on theoretical research, numerical experiments, and data analysis. With 15 research professors and 14 research assistants the AOB had on average 40−50 scientific papers per year published in prestigious international scientific journals at the beginning of the BELISSIMA project. This shift in priorities has occurred due to a number of reasons. Before about mid-1960s, the AOB was the regional center of excellence for observational astronomy, since many important programs could be performed with the local instruments, notably the Large Refractor, Zeiss 65 cm instrument, one of the best European refracting telescopes of its era. Since then, the immediate surroundings of the AOB have evolved from the distant outskirts of the capital to one of the central urban municipalities. Consequently, the observational conditions at the AOB site have dramatically deteriorated, due to the high levels of both aerosols and light pollution, and are nowadays essentially unsuitable for research observations. Although the AOB has 6 pavilions equipped with optical instruments that have gathered a very useful load of astronomical data, at present the instrumentation is only used for basic training of students. Another factor in play has been the global change of emphasis in the astronomical research from the classical disciplines like fundamental astrometry to more astrophysically-oriented topics which required different observing facilities from those available at AOB. The dramatic economic and social meltdown of 1990s has led, among other things, to the serious decrease in both quantity and quality of human resources in all fundamental sciences, and the field of astronomical and space sciences has been particularly hardly hit by the overwhelming "brain drain" and the general decrease of public understanding of (and interest in) science. This tendency has inexorably led to the erosion of human capital in the theoretical and the archival data-analysis domains. After the political changes in 2000, the AOB has, as most of other Serbian institutions of note, instituted a set of remedial measures, which have at first been rather small in scale, but gradually have led to the proposal of the BELISSIMA project.

One of these measures has been searching for a convenient location for renewal of observational work. The mountain of Vidojevica (altitude 1155 m) in the south of Serbia, has been chosen for this purpose on the basis of preliminary set of astroclimate and photometric analyses that has been performed since the late 1970's. The Ministry of Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (MSTDRS) has in the 2005-2009 period financed significant infrastructural works on the site (the main building, observing dome and power and water supply) and the purchase of a telescope with aperture diameter of 60 cm, and of detectors for optical, photometrical, polarimetrical and spectroscopical observations. The works were successfully completed and the 60 cm telescope became fully operative in 2011. The BELISSIMA project was thus envisioned as the follow-up activity in the form of purchasing and mounting larger observing instrument with the aperture of the order of 1.50 m. The 1.50 m-class telescope completely and optimally satisfies both observational needs of Serbian astronomical/space science community and the capacity of the Vidojevica observing site. The purchase and mounting of the new telescope is of crucial importance for the regional collaboration since by definition, space science and astronomy are among the most international fields of research and development, relying heavier than other research themes, on the fruitful regional, European and global collaborative enterprises. In the specific case of the AOB, the acquisition of an instrument approximately comparable to 2 m telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Bulgaria at Rozhen (but of older construction) and the 2.3 m "Aristarchos" telescope of the National Observatory of Athens (Greece) will unlock the full potential of regional synergy in
observational programmes. Taking advantage of the mobility of most of the detectors, the realization of the equipment-related aspects of BELISSIMA would certainly result in rapid increase in the number of regional observing collaborations which have, thus far, been rather one-sided, with Serbian astronomers often enjoying kind hospitality of our regional partners, but without real quid pro quo in the realm of observational research. The motivation behind the BELISSIMA project has been not only to provide a cutting-edge ground-based observational research in the next decade to decade and a half, in preparation and training for the access to large European collaborations like the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network for Astronomy (OPTICON), but also to foster all other research activities in the thematic areas of space science and related fields. In particular, the theoretical studies, for quite a long time the bedrock of AOB research, immensely benefit from both the "brain gain" through return and knowledge transfer of at least some of experienced researchers, but also innovative and productive young scientists currently in the diaspora, and the increased funding available for exchange visits, international meetings and publishing. Coupled with the constant improvement in computational capacities (a clear trend since 2000), this is certain to bring about new leading-edge results in branches of theoretical research, such as computational astrophysics, long-term modelling of planetary dynamics, numerical experiments in astrobiology and geoscience, etc. The same conclusion applies to the dissemination, promotion and popularization activities, which represent an important segment of activities in which the AOB has already demonstrated excellence. In brief, the realization of the ideas presented within the BELISSIMA project significantly strengthens the overall scientific excellence at the AOB and reinstalls it as the leader in the observational astronomy in the WBC region, completely competitive with institutions in the SEE and the Convergence region. The two-way exchange benefits the AOB with better integration to the European astronomical and scientific scene. The AOB will be capable of taking part in the OPTICON subprogrammes such as the Network of European Observatories in the North, NEON.

The main objectives of the BELISSIMA (BELgrade Initiative for Space Science, Instrumentation and Modelling in Astrophysics) project are: (i) improving research capacity of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade (AOB), one of the oldest scientific and most distinguished institutes in Serbia, through increase and improvement of both human and material resources, (ii) better integration in the European Research Area (ERA) as far as the theme of space and related themes are concerned, (iii) setting up new and tightening existing sustainable partnerships with regional (WBC, SEE and the Convergence Region), as well as EU institutions, and (iv) contributing to faster exchange of data and results, public understanding of science and scientific literacy in Serbia and the region. As one of the premier research institutions in WBC and SEE regions, the AOB is expected to play the key role in the processes of integration of the researchers gathered around space, astronomical and astrophysical research into the wider European context, as envisaged in the ERA concept. The goals of the BELISSIMA project are achieved through the following activities: (1) increasing available human resources through recruiting incoming experienced researchers; (2) increasing observational capacities through purchase of 1.40 m telescope constructed with state-of-the-art optical and electronic technology installed at the mountain Vidojevica observing facility to ensure future cutting-edge research and training; (3) training visits by the AOB staff to EU observatories and institutes to upgrade skills with using new equipment and forging new research associations, as well as contribution to the dissemination of the AOB results and improve presentational practices; (4) visits of the distinguished EU researchers to the AOB for local training and reinforcing bilateral and multilateral collaborations; (5) organization of one international conference which will disseminate the AOB research results to EU scientists, and two regional workshops in order to create collaborative links; (6) collecting observational data based on the observational projects to be conducted as soon as the telescope is mounted and preliminary tested; (7) improving human resources of the AOB by offering permanent positions to recruited researchers who came to Belgrade in the framework of the BELISSIMA project; and (8) expansion of the existing publishing, multimedia, and other promotional and popularization activities of the AOB, with the goal of increasing local, regional and European visibility, while in the same time contributing to public understanding of science. The goal of the BELISSIMA project is not only to provide a cutting-edge ground-based observational research in the next decade to decade and a half, in preparation and training for the access to large European collaborations like the ESO and OPTICON, but also to foster all other research activities in the thematic areas of space science and related fields. In particular, the theoretical studies, for quite a long time the bedrock of the AOB research, immensely benefit from both the "brain gain" through return and knowledge transfer of experienced researchers, and the increased funding available for exchange visits, international meetings and publishing. The same conclusion applies to the dissemination, promotion and popularization activities, which represent an important segment of activities in which the AOB has already demonstrated excellence. The successful realization of the BELISSIMA project significantly strengthens the overall scientific excellence at the AOB and (re)installs it as the leader in the observational astronomy in the WBC region, completely competitive with institutions in the SEE and the Convergence region.

Project Results:
BELISSIMA (BELgrade Initiative for Space Science, Instrumentation and Modelling in Astrophysics) is the six-year is FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme) project (call FP7-REGPOT-2010-5; funding scheme "CSA Coordination and support action") started on 01 July 2010 and was completed on 30 June 2016. The project was coordinated by the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade (AOB) and it was initially expected to be finished after three years, but was extended twice by the European Commission (EC): first, from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2015, and finally from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 because of the problems in purchasing and manufacturing of the telescope with the main mirror of 1.40 m diameter.

The BELISSIMA project consists of five work packages (WPs) which are listed below with their leaders. The Management board of BELISSIMA consists of the leaders of the WPs given below and the coordinator of the project is Dr. Srdjan Samurovic. The WPs (and their leaders) are:

1) Preparations and reinforcement of the AOB (leader: Dr. Zoran Knezevic)

2) Purchase, installation and testing of optical equipment, 1.50-m class telescope (leader: Dr. Istvan Vince)

3) Human potential, training and public outreach (leader from March 2011 to June 2016: Dr. Miroslav Micic; from July 2010 to March 2011 the leader was Dr. Luka C. Popovic)

4) Dissemination and promotional activities (leader: Dr. Milan Cirkovic)

5) Project management (leader: Dr. Srdjan Samurovic)

The most important achievements of each WP of the BELISSIMA project, from the beginning to the end of the project, are presented below.

WP1. Preparations and Reinforcement of the AOB

From the very beginning of the BELISSIMA project, the procedure for increasing and improving human resources of the AOB was initiated: in fact, the Management board of BELISSIMA started, as soon as the positive outcome of the proposal was announced (from the beginning of 2010), to intensify the contacts with candidates for a total of 72 months of engagement intended for recruited researchers. This task was successfully handled by the former Director of the AOB (from 2002 to December 2014), Dr. Zoran Knezevic, the head of WP1 and three experienced researchers were hired by the AOB and we list below only their most important activities:

The first researcher, Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic was hired by the AOB on 15 July 2010, immediately after the official beginning of BELISSIMA. Milan Bogosavljevic was born in Nis, Serbia in 1977. He graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mathematics, Serbia and obtained his PhD from California Institute of Technology (CalTech). He is an expert in observational astronomy with a significant experience with observations with the world's largest telescopes (such as Keck). Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic supervised the activities of the ASA company from Austria that manufactured the 1.40-m telescope and was active in the creation of the design of the telescope as Head of Executive Project Team. Dr. Bogosavljevic presented the AOB and the work on the Vidojevica Astronomical Station (VAS) and the BELISSIMA project at numerous meetings across Europe. He coordinated the activities and served on the Scientific Organizing Committee for the organization of first BELISSIMA international workshop "Science with 1.5 m telescopes", held in Belgrade, 13-14 October 2011 and the international BELISSIMA conference "Future science with metre-class telescopes", held in Belgrade, 18-21 September 2011. Dr. Bogosavljevic performed observations with the 60 cm telescope at the VAS within the framework of our first international collaborative observing campaign together with colleagues from the USA, Canary Islands, Greece and Oman. Dr. Bogosavljevic participated in the organization and presented lectures during the first hands-on workshop on astronomical observations at the VAS with the 60 cm telescope, for undergraduate students from University of Belgrade and University of Novi Sad. He took part representing and lecturing about the AOB and VAS in the course of the Balkan Summer School, organized by SEENET-MTP Network and Faculty of Physics, Nis. Dr. Bogosavljevic coordinated the organization and presented lectures about the AOB, VAS and the BELISSIMA project at a workshop for high-school students held at the VAS, with observations performed in real-time over the internet using the 1.2 m MONET/North telescope at McDonald observatory in Texas, USA. In November 2011, together with Igor Smolic from Institute of Physics, Belgrade, Dr. Bogosavljevic performed precise astrometric observations of Minor Planets from the VAS which established the VAS as a recognized observing facility with Observatory Code C89. From January to June 2012, Dr. Bogosavljevic participated in the negotiations with telescope manufacturers and the procurement agency Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of Serbia regarding the tender procedure for the purchase of a 1.5 m-class telescope. Dr. Bogosavljevic participated in the BELISSIMA TV programme aimed at dissemination of the achievements of BELISSIMA and astronomical research. For his extraordinary work, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, coordinator of BELISSIMA, nominated Dr. Bogosavljevic for the AOB Annual Award for Scientific Work of Young Researchers and Dr. Bogosavljevic received was awarded on 7 April 2011 on the occasion of the AOB celebration when the Observatory celebrated its 124th year of work. Also, he participated in the organization of observing projects performed with the 60-cm telescope mounted at the VAS. Together with Dr. Zach Ioannou, who previously collaborated with BELISSIMA (see below), Dr. Bogosavljevic worked on the new software implementation procedure of optimal photometry. Dr. Bogosavljevic served as a lecturer for a graduate level course "Classical Cosmology" for PhD students of the Department of Astronomy, University of Belgrade. He participated in the work of the Petnica School of Cosmology (August 2013) and Petnica Seminar on Astronomy (November 2013). He worked as a referee for the Serbian Astronomical Journal. M. Bogosavljevic participated in the 14th Gulf Astronomy Conference held at NYU Abu Dhabi in December 2014 where he, among other things, presented the BELISSIMA project. From June 2013 together with coordinator of BELISSIMA, Dr. S. Samurovic, Dr. Bogosavljevic participated in the work of the Tender Committee for the purchase of the 1.40 m telescope "Milankovic". Dr. Bogosavljevic participated in the works related to the design and construction of the 1.40 m telescope mounted at the VAS. He was the part of the team (together with Drs. Rade Pavlovic and Oliver Vince, members of the AOB staff) that conceived and performed various tests of the telescope during its production. He has been the director of the Vidojevica Astronomical Station (VAS) in the period 2012-2014, when Dr. Oliver Vince replaced him at this post. In 2014 he continued with the monitoring of the astro-climate conditions at the VAS.

The second researcher, Dr. Miroslav Micic was hired by the AOB on 16 March 2011. Miroslav Micic was born in Belgrade in 1977. He graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mathematics, Serbia and obtained his PhD from the Pennsylvania State University. He joined the BELISSIMA project coming from the University of Sydney where he had been working. He is an expert in astrophysical simulations, astronomical data processing and visualization of astronomical data; he was appointed leader of WP3 of the BELISSIMA project. He immediately after the hiring initiated the activities which included several research projects with young researchers at the AOB based on numerical astrophysical simulations. Miroslav Micic was together with Drs. Srdjan Samurovic and Branislav Vukotic one of the editors of the Proceedings of the international BELISSIMA conference: "Future Science with Metre-Class Telescopes" which was held in Belgrade in September 2012. Under his supervision a new research group has been formed at the AOB that performs various cosmological simulations. Dr. Miroslav Micic supervised several PhD and master students at the AOB and he participated in the work of the Society of Physicists of Serbia as a secretary of the Section of scientific research and higher education. He also supervised the work of students at the Petnica seminar of astronomy. Dr. Miroslav Micic acted as a referee for the Serbian Astronomical Journal and the Publications of the AOB. In the amphitheater of the department of Natural Science and Mathematics, Nis University, an award ceremony was held for the primary and secondary school students and their achievements in physics competitions. Dr. Miroslav Micic was invited as a special guest and on that occasion has presented the latest astronomical events in Serbia as well as plans for the future of astronomy in Serbia. Dr. Miroslav Micic presented opportunities for the future research on supercomputers in Serbia with the talk "Supermassive Black Holes". On this occasion, he has established cooperation with the Society of Physicists of Nis and contracted future projects related to astrophysical simulations and visualization for the purposes of public outreach (WP3). Dr. Miroslav Micic featured as guest at the astronomy seminar in the Research Center in Petnica where he gave a lecture to the students attending astronomy seminars on "Supermassive Black Holes" and potential for following this line of research in Serbia in the future with a hope of engaging and motivating high school students to enroll and pursue career in astronomy and astrophysics. Since then, Dr. Miroslav Micic returned to Petnica five times and gave lectures on a range of topics: Formation and Evolution of Galaxies; Correlation between properties of supermassive black holes and galactic spheroids; Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Dr. Miroslav Micic also worked on the AOB brochure which presents the AOB and the BELISSIMA project. Dr. Micic participated in the collection of articles and written contributions from scientists employed at AOB and organized them into sections together with pictures representing everyone employed at the AOB, the working equipment and the facilities, with the special section dedicated to the BELISSIMA project. Dr. Miroslav Micic participated in the coordination of the organization of the first BELISSIMA workshop "Science with 1.5 m telescopes" held in Belgrade, October 2011 and the second BELISSIMA workshop "First light of the Milankovic telescope", June 2016. As a member of the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) and chair of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Dr. Miroslav Micic coordinated organization of the BELISSIMA conference: "Future Science with Metre-Class Telescopes" which was held in Belgrade, Serbia, September 2012. Under Dr. Micic supervision a new research group has been formed at the AOB. Under his supervision 4 master theses have been defended and he is the supervisor of 4 PhD thesis related to the modern cosmological simulations of the the structures in the Universe.

Finally, on 01 November 2012, the third researcher was hired by the AOB within the scope of WP1: Dr. Milica Micic, born in Krusevac in 1984, graduated from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Belgrade in June 2008 and later, in December 2008, also obtained the masters degree there. She obtained her PhD at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). Dr. Milica Micic is an expert in numerical astrophysical simulations in the field of massive star and molecular cloud formation, focusing on the influence of chemical processes on the gas dynamics and is also an expert in astronomical data processing and visualization of astronomical data. Dr. Milica Micic worked as a member of the editorial board of the Serbian Astronomical Journal where she also was a referee. She continued her collaboration with the researchers from the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics Heidelberg where she defended her PhD thesis. Together with Dr. Miroslav Micic she was the representative of the AOB n REGPOT/ROK meeting held in Brussels 7 December 2015: "Contribution of 'Research Potential' (REGPOT) and 'Regions of Knowledge' (ROK), the way forward thanks to synergies between EU policies/funds". They shared their experience based on their participation in the BELISSIMA project.

All three hired researchers were fully integrated in the AOB environment and were given permanent positions at the AOB from 1 July 2013: they participated in the work of the project no. 176021, "Visible and Invisible Matter in Nearby Galaxies: Theory and Observations", led by the coordinator of BELISSIMA, Dr. S. Samurovic and funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (MESTDRS).

AOB researchers passed various forms of training in observations with the equipment available at the VAS: before the "Milankovic" telescope was mounted, the already existing 60 cm telescope was used for training purposes. This was necessary for the observers to become familiar with new instrument, detectors, control systems and software. Observations included imaging, photometry and spectroscopy, and the programs were devoted to observations of close binary stars, double and multiple stellar systems, optical counterparts of radio sources, asteroids, etc. Each observing team was organized in such a way that an experienced observer was accompanied by few young researchers and/or PhD students. Practical training of the AOB staff was complemented with participation of the researchers at several seminars, dedicated lectures and workshops. Dr. Istvan Vince organized the seminar at the AOB dedicated to photometric and spectroscopic measurements.

To summarize, the activities of the recruited researchers were of significant importance and will contribute to the future work of the AOB as follows:

i) the construction of the new 1.40 m telescope "Milankovic", mounted in May 2016 at the VAS, will determine the future activities of the staff of the AOB making Serbia the leader in the Western Balkans region in observational astronomy as presented in the BELISSIMA proposal,

ii) the work of the recruited researchers initiated new collaborations of the AOB with the experts both in Serbia (for example, experts in robotics), and abroad (numerous contacts with observatories and institutes across Europe and elsewhere),

iii) another important aspect of their work is their interaction with younger members of the AOB staff and students: their teaching and training activities will create a new generation of researchers who will strengthen astronomy and astrophysics research in Serbia and

iv) the activities of the recruited researchers on the dissemination and popularization of astronomy and astrophysics will play an important role in the future work of the AOB.

WP2. Purchase, Installation and Testing of Optical Equipment

From the beginning of BELISSIMA the Management board of the project began to work on the selection of the optimal configuration of the robotic 1.50 m-class telescope. At the very beginning of the project, the decision was made to name the telescope "Milankovic" after the famous Serbian astronomer and also a director of the AOB in the 1948-1951 period. In May 2012 the AOB authorized the JUP (PIU -- Project Implementation Unit) agency of the MESTDRS to conduct the procurement procedure of the telescope on its behalf. The tender procedure was opened and was successfully finalized in June 2013. The manufacturer of the telescope is company ASA Astrosysteme GmbH from Austria that successfully completed the works on the telescope in April 2016 when the factory acceptance tests were performed. On 28 April the procedure of the mounting of the telescope at the VAS, near the town of Prokuplje, started and was finished a few days later, in the early May of 2016. Due to the poor weather conditions the first light was taken at the beginning of June 2016.

Here, we briefly address the reasons for two extensions of the BELISSIMA project: the main reason for two extensions of BELISSIMA were problems in the procurement of the telescope. The first extension (1 July 2013 -- 30 June 2015) was granted for the purpose of the successful completion of the tender procedure and subsequent manufacturing of the telescope. However, in the spring of 2015, due to the problems in the manufacturing of the main mirror, completely beyond the responsibility of both the AOB and ASA, it became clear that the telescope could not be manufactured and mounted in the foreseen time. Thus, the Management board of BELISSIMA asked the EC for the second extension which was granted: the second extension, from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, therefore is the final period of BELISSIMA in which all the remaining activities were successfully completed, the most important being the mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope. The extensions were granted thanks to the understanding and help of the project officer of BELISSIMA, Dr. Grzegorz Ambroziewicz.

The period before the arrival of the "Milankovic" telescope was used to determine the best configuration of the new instrument using the already existing 60 cm telescope mounted at the VAS. Also, numerous measurements of the seeing and astro-climate using the dedicated instruments at the VAS were performed. The AOB started in the first half of 2015 the construction works on the pavilion that hosts the "Milankovic" telescope. This is a modern rolling roof pavilion situated above the already existing pavilion for the 60 cm telescope. The funds for the contribution of the pavilion were secured through the MESTDRS. The pavilion was completely ready in June 2015 and after this date several additional adjustments to the pavilion were made. For the purpose of finding the best company to produce the telescope visits to the ASTELCO company (March 2011) and the ASA company (August 2011) were organized by the members of the AOB staff.

In late 2015 and early 2016 numerous tests related to both optics and mechanics were performed at the ASA factory in Austria. On two occasions the tests were performed under the supervision of the the members of the AOB staff found that the quality of the telescope was excellent. The quality of the main mirror, the most important part of the telescope, outperformed the initially planned specifications by the factor of two. On 28 April 2016 the telescope was delivered by the ASA company to the Vidojevica mountain and put in the rolling roof pavilion and in the late April/early May 2016 the "Milankovic" telescope with the main mirror of 1.40 m was successfully mounted. In May and June 2016 the "Milankovic" telescope was successfully tested and the members of the AOB confirmed their previous assessment that the quality of both mechanical and optical parts of the telescope were excellent. The final adjustments of the "Milankovic" telescope were completed just before and during the second BELISSIMA workshop (6-7 June 2016) and the first light was on 7 June 2016. Additional funds for the purchase of the telescope were secured by the MESTDRS.

The characteristics of the "Milankovic" telescope

The "Milankovic" telescope has an Altutude-Azimuth mount with Ritchey–Chrétien optical system equipped with 4 foci: 2 Nasmyth and 2 “bent” Cassegrain. Telescope is mounted in a rolling roof pavilion at the summit of the mountain Vidojevica (near the town of Prokuplje, Serbia), at 1155 meters above the sea level. The telescope was produced by the Austrian company ASA Astrosysteme GmbH.

The main characteristics of the "Milankovic" telescope are as follows:

Mechanics: Astrosysteme Austria (ASA),

Optics: LOMO, St. Petersburg, Russia,

Primary mirror diameter: 1.4 meter,

Focal length: 11.2 meters (f/8),

Mount : alt-azimuth,

Weight:: 8.5 tonnes,

Height : 4.5 meters,

Tubus: Open Truss Tube,

Motorized main and secondary mirror covering (computer-controlled).

Motorized secondary mirror focuser (computer-controlled),

Drive: Direct Drive Torque motors

and

Nasmyth and "bent" Cassegrain foci.

First light of the "Milankovic" telescope showed that the observing conditions at Vidojevica are excellent: the seeing (which describes how much the Earth's atmosphere perturbs the images of stars as seen through a telescope) measured was found to be equal to 0.7 arc seconds which is comparable to the best observing sites in the world, such as Chile. These first results confirmed that both mechanics and optics are of excellent quality. The results also strongly suggest that the choice of the Vidojevica mountain was the right option for the new observing site of the AOB. The telescope will be a part of the network of robotic telescope which will provide the AOB the possibility to participate in the cutting-edge research on the global level.

WP3. Human Potential, Training and Public Outreach and WP4. Dissemination and promotion activities

Several activities related to human potential, training and public outreach were performed within WP3 of the the BELISSIMA project and are described below together with the activities performed within WP4 related to the dissemination and promotion because they are closely connected.

The list of events are as follows:

1) Early September 2010 at the AOB the meeting of the Serbian astronomical community was organized.

The Management board of the BELISSIMA project organized a meeting of the Serbian scientific community in order to define which observational strategy is the most suitable for the new "Milankovic" telescope to be placed at the existing astronomical station on Mt. Vidojevica. Therefore, with the participation of 40 colleagues from the AOB, Department of Astronomy (Belgrade University), Institute of Physics (Belgrade) and People's Observatory from Belgrade, a one-day meeting " 'Milankovic' Telescope: Strategy of the Development of the Observational Astronomy in Serbia" was organized in the library of the AOB on 06 September 2010. The meeting was divided into three parts. The first part was dedicated to VAS and the BELISSIMA project and the speakers were Director of AOB and head of WP1 (Dr. Zoran Knezevic), Dr. Srdjan Samurovic (coordinator of the BELISSIMA project and head of WP5), Dr. Istvan Vince (head of WP2), Dr. Milan Cirkovic (head of WP4) and Dr. Luka Popovic (then head of WP3). After the introduction by the Director which provided information related to the present state of the VAS, each speaker discussed his WP, the work done and future activities. Then in the second part of the meeting Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic presented the scientific value of the 1.50 m class telescopes in the decade to come. Dr. Gojko Djurasevic (AOB) discussed modelling and solving of the inverse problem of spectrophotometric observations as a key to understanding of the nature of active close binary systems. Dr. Rade Pavlovic (in collaboration with Dr. Zorica Cvetkovic, both AOB) presented existing and future observations of visual binary stars. Dr. Dejan Urosevic (Dept. of Astronomy) presented a talk related to the optical identification of molecular clouds in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Dr. Oliver Vince (AOB) discussed extinction maps of molecular clouds in Milky Way and nearby galaxy. Finally, Mr. Igor Smolic (collaborator of the AOB) presented photometric and astrometric characteristics of 1.5 m telescopes. The meeting was concluded with the discussion in which nearly all the participants took part. Several conclusions have been reached: (i) The "Milankovic" telescope will be 1.50 m class instrument; (ii) the telescope will be fully robotized and to this end the collaboration with mechanic, electronic and software engineers will be sought and (iii) priority will be given to spectrophotometric observations (with 2 foci). The Management Board allowed the participants the possibility to propose astronomical observations after the meeting: indeed, the proposal related to the observations of extrasolar planets was submitted by Mr. Bojan Novakovic (Dept. of Astronomy).

2) Late September 2010: in Prokuplje (near the Vidojevica mountain) the meeting "Network of Telescopes in the Western Balkans Region" was organized.

The Executive Meeting of the BELISSIMA project "Network of Telescopes in the Western Balkans Region" gathered 30 participants, of which 13 were foreign experts from several European countries and was held in Prokuplje from 27 to 28 September 2010. The Meeting was organized in the building of "National Museum Toplica" of Prokuplje which provided suitable environment for presentations and discussions. The Meeting was greeted by the representative of municipality of the town of Prokuplje. The list of foreign participants is as follows. From Greece: Dr. Zach Ioannou (Orliakas Astronomical Station), Mr. Spyros Kanouras (Diopsis Consulting), Dr. John Seiradakis (Univ. of Thessaloniki). From Germany: Dr. Frederic V. Hessmann (Univ. of Gottingen), Dr. Alexander Hempelmann (Univ. of Hamburg). From Hungary: Dr. Tibor Hegedus and Dr. Barna Imre Biro (both of the Baja Observatory). From Bulgaria: Dr. Tanyu Bonev (Rozhen Observatory) and Dr. Rumen Bachev (Belogradchik Observatory). From Spain/Czech Republic: Dr. Petr Kubanek (IAA Granada) and from Croatia: Dr. Korado Korlevic, Mr. Fran Hrzenjak and Mr. Denis Stogl (all three of Visnjan Observatory). On September 28th the excursion to the VAS site on Mount Vidojevica was organized. All participants took part in the excursion and visited the location where the "Milankovic" telescope is now mounted. The participants also visited the main building of the VAS and the pavilion of the 60 cm telescope where the servicing activities of the telescope were being performed. Many of the foreign participants of the meeting continued their collaboration and took part in subsequent activities of BELISSIMA. Dr. Srdjan Samurovic presented the project BELISSIMA and also discussed the conclusions reached at the meeting of the scientific community in Belgrade on 6 September suggesting some possible observational programs feasible with the new "Milankovic" telescope. Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic presented a talk related to the construction and impact of the "Milankovic" telescope on both scientific and educational fronts. Dr. Zoran Knezevic gave a talk in which he discussed the works already done at Vidojevica Astronomical Station (VAS); he also discussed WP1 of the BELISSIMA project for which he was responsible. Dr. Istvan Vince discussed binary stars observations which will we possible with the "Milankovic" telescope; he also discussed the existing instruments available for the existing 60cm telescope at VAS. Dr. Zach Ioannou presented the Greek project of Orliakis Astronomical Station which will planned to have an instrument similar to the "Milankovic" telescope but due to the financial crisis was later halted. Two participants from Croatia, Mr. Fran Hrzenjak and Mr. Denis Stogl, presented the work at the Visnjan Observatory (headed by Dr. Korado Korlevic) done with their 1 m telescope. The colleagues from Bulgaria delivered two talks: Dr. Tanyu Bonev presented the instruments and results of the Rozhen Observatory whereas Dr. Rumen Bachev showed the instruments and observations performed at Astronomical Observatory Belogradchik. The Hungarian colleagues also delivered two talks: Dr. Tibor Hegedus discussed the performance of Hungarian robotic telescopes and observations which can be made with such class of instruments; Dr. Barna Imre Biro presented a talk which dealt with the solution of elimination of stray light of Baja Astrophysical Robotic Telescope (BART), a problem which plagues various astronomical observations. The German colleagues delivered two presentations which addressed several aspects of use of their robotic telescopes: Dr. Frederic Hessmann presented MONET (MOnitoring NEtwork of Telescopes) project which consists of two telescopes for monitoring which are available for scientific and educational (school program) use and Dr. Alexander Hempelmann presented HRT (Hamburg Robotic Telescope) and some observational tasks performed with it. Dr. Petr Kubanek discussed the code RTS2 which he develops with his colleagues from Spain and is available to the astronomical community through open source license; it is aimed at computer control of robotic telescopes and astronomic observations.The talks were concluded with two presentations of the two WPs of the BELISSIMA project. Dr. Luka C. Popovic, head of WP3 presented the possibility of exchange of scientific visits between AOB and European observatories and institutes within the BELISSIMA project; he announced the first workshop of the BELISSIMA project for May or June of 2011. Dr. Milan Cirkovic, head of WP4 discussed the importance of disemination, promotion and popularization (DPP) of scientific results within the BELISSIMA project; he emphasized the advantages of astronomy with respect to other sciences and presented expected outcomes of WP4.

3) October 2011: the first BELISSIMA workshop.

The first BELISSIMA workshop "Science with 1.5 m telescopes" was organized in Belgrade from 13 to 14 October 2011 in Belgrade at the Foundation of Ilija M. Kolarac. Approximately 40 participants took part in its work of which following were foreign guests: Dr. Alberto Cellino (INAF Torino, Italy), Dr. Ashish Mahabal (Caltech, USA), Dr. Barna Imre Biro (the Baja Observatory, Hungary), Dr. Frederic V. Hessman (MONET, Germany), Dr. Iain Steele (Liverpool Telescope, UK), Dr. Janos Nuspl (Konkoly Observatory, Hungary), Dr. John Danziger (Observatory of Trieste, Italy), Dr. Korado Korlevic (Visnjan Observatory, Croatia), Dr. Ljiljana Skuljan (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Dr. Lorenzo Morelli (University of Padua, Italy), Dr. Michael Weber (AIP, Potsdam, Germany), Dr. Osman Demircan (Canakkale Telescope, Turkey), Dr. Petr Kubanek (RTS2, Chech Republic), Dr. Radoslaw Poleski (OGLE, Poland), Dr. Rumen Bachev (Belogradchik Observatory, Bulgaria), Dr. Tamas Borkovits (Baja Observatory, Hungary), Dr. Tibor Hegedus (the Baja Observatory, Hungary) and Dr. Werner Zeilinger (University of Vienna, Austria). The event was very useful for all participants: numerous observational ideas and concepts were shared and new collaborations were forged.

Below we describe the program of the workshop.

Day 1: Thursday, 13 October 2011

At the very beginning of the workshop, the coordinator of BELISSIMA, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic presented the BELISSIMA project, the work packages (WPs), the goals of the project and its activities thus introducing the project to the participants of the workshop. Dr. Janos Nuspl in his talk "What are those astrophysical questions we should/can answer by these telescopes? Some questions only from the numerous possible ones" presented the future of ground-based small scale telescopes and provided some recommendations for the future observations of stars and planets with "small" telescopes. One of his suggestions was the necessity of international collaborations between various research groups. Dr. Frederic V. Hessman in his talk "The Search for the Planet Tatooine with a 1.2m Telescope" presented his work done in collaboration with Drs. K. Beuermann, S. Dreizler, S. Schuh (Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen) and members of the EXOTIME & PlanetFinders Consortia. He presented various methods for detection of planetary systems (such as "pulsar" timing, Doppler method, transit photometry, gravitational microlensing, and his work with the robotic MONET telescopes, a pair of 2 x 1.2 m f/7 RC Nasmyth telescopes operated by a consortium (Gottingen and Univ. Texas, SAAO). Dr. Ashish Mahabal in his talk "Optimal transient classification with 1-2 m class telescopes" described his work done in collaboration with colleagues from CalTech related to various surveys done with meter-class telescopes, such as Catalina Near-Earth Object (NEO) survey; he paid special attention to the problem of automated event classification, a problem which will only become more serious in the years to come. Dr. Radoslaw Poleski presented "The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment -- large-scale survey with 1.3 m telescope"; he described, among other topics: the camera and the procedures aimed for the detection of free floating planets, search for the Kuiper objects and the detection of eclipsing binary systems. These topics were very interesting for the AOB staff because a number of the AOB researchers study such objects. Dr. Michael Weber in his special hands-on session "High-resolution spectroscopy using 1.5m class robotic telescopes" presented his work done in collaboration with Drs. Thomas Granzer, Klaus Strassmeier, Manfred Woche and the members of AIP STELLA team. He described the STELLA observatory located at Tenerife which is fully autonomous and uses on-site weather sensors and AIP's own STELLA control system (SCS) and is unmanned and he described in detail both STELLA telescopes. He also showed the active projects which include: Doppler imaging, determination of stellar orbital parameters, radial velocities and stellar rotation etc. Dr. Weber stayed after the workshop to help with the design of the future "Milankovic" telescope. It is worth mentioning that two members of the AOB staff, Ms. Monika Jurkovic and Ms. Milena Jovanovic stayed at the AIP in Postdam in two 3-month visits (see below) organized and supervised by Dr. Weber within the scope of WP3 of BELISSIMA. Dr. Werner Zeilinger in his talk "Remote Control Observations at the FOA 1.5m Telescope" presented the work of Leopold Figl Observatorium fur Astrophysik (FOA) facility of the Department of Astronomy, Univ. of Vienna; of special interest for the participants from the AOB was his description of the instrumentation and the observing programs (which include R-band imaging of Corot transients, light curves of minor planets, preparation of the GAIA Ground Based Optical Tracking project and follow-up photometry and spectroscopy (done in collaboration with Univ. of Heidelberg), BVRI photometry of star forming regions, BVRI photometry of galaxy groups, ram pressure stripping and star formation activity in Virgo cluster spirals and microlensing in the Galactic bulge). Dr. Iain Steele in his talk "Science with the Liverpool Telescope" described in detail the work of the Liverpool telescope and its instruments; the observing programs include study of exoplanet transit timing. Dr. Alberto Cellino at the beginning of his presentation "Photometric and polarimetric projects for small telescopes" asked whether we can still use small telescopes to do good and useful asteroid science -- his answer was "yes" and his talk provided the support for such an attitude. Dr. Rumen Bachev in his talk "Broadband Optical Monitoring of AGN’s with Small Telescopes" described the work of his group related to study of the active galactic nuclei (AGN) done with from 60 cm telescope (Belogradchik) and 50/70 cm and 2 m telescopes (Rozhen). Dr. Petr Kubanek held two sessions. First he gave a special Session: "RTS2 -- brief history, modules, philosophy" which was followed by a hands-on session: "Scripting in RTS2, observational planing, image processing with Python". Dr. Kubanek is a programming expert for robotic observatories and he described in detail (showing the features to the participants) his open source package Remote Telescope System -- 2nd version (RTS2) which has the following characteristics: integrated on-line astrometry using either astrometry.net package or any other command-line astrometry package, target creating from SIMBAD (fixed position target), observations targets for the Moon, planets, dwarf planets, and any Solar system bodies, module for receiving and processing of the GCN gamma-ray bursts alerts, GRB observation driven by scripts, PostgreSQL database, which store all details about observations, including images with WCS coordinates, plug-and-play architecture for weather sensors (rain, cloud, wind,..) etc.

Day 2: Friday, 14 October 2011

The second day of the first BELISSIMA workshop started with the talk of Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic, head of executive project team of the VAS, who provided the details related to the work done at the VAS and the plans for the future which will be determined by the mounting of the telescope "Milankovic". Dr. Korado Korlevic in his talk "NEO asteroids and comets follow up" described his work related to the NEO asteroids done in collaboration with the colleagues from the Visnjan Observatory. Dr. Tamas Borkovits in his talk "Speckle astrometry with the 1.5m telescope. A key for determination of the spatial configuration of close hierarchical triple systems" described in detail his work on the speckle astrometry, a technique which is planned to be used at the VAS by the members of the AOB staff: he showed in detail the problems related to observations of spectroscopic binary stars. Dr. Osman Demircan in his presentation "Photometric observations and future projects with Canakkale 1.5 m Telescope" described the research of the active binary star, Sun, X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts etc. done using 1.5 m telescope at Canakkale. Dr. Lorenzo Morelli in his talk "Science with the telescopes of the Asiago observatory" described in detail the work of the researchers who use 182 cm telescope "Copernico" and 122 cm "Galileo" and the scientific problems for which they are used: the nature of high-energy sources, supernovae classification, study of transient events etc. Dr. John Danziger in his special hands-on session: "SN1987A and its impact on supernova research" provided numerous details regarding supernovae and the stressed the importance of observing these objects using 1.50 m-class telescopes: after showing our present knowledge on supernovae he analyzed in detail the well-known case of SN1987A which he studied; he also analyzed the recently observed spectra of this object showing that there is still a lot to be understood (such as problem of the point source at the centre, problem of single or binary progenitor, problem of orientation of the asymmetric debris etc). The second day of the BELISSIMA workshop was concluded with the special hands-on session by Dr. Ljiljana Skuljan "Photometry in crowded fields using PyRAF in data reduction" in which she through the worked examples showed the steps in the reduction procedures and their application for various types of photometric observations; she also described the MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics) project, aimed at discovering of extrasolar planets or other dark massive objects using the gravitational microlensing technique -- this technique will be of great importance for the future work of the "Milankovic" telescope. The BELISSIMA workshop was very useful for all participants: numerous observational ideas and concepts were shared and new collaborations were forged. Some collaborations were realized in the following year 2012 (for example, visits of Ms. Jovanovic and Ms. Jurkovic as given above), and some will be realized in the future, with the "Milankovic" telescope. The contributions from the first BELISSIMA workshop are printed on the CDROM (ISBN: 978-86-80019-59-8). The editors are: Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, Mr. Nemanja Martinovic and Dr. Branislav Vukotic.

4) September 2012: international BELISSIMA conference.

The large international BELISSIMA conference, "Future Science With Meter-Class Telescopes", was held in Belgrade from 18 to 21 September 2012. The title of the Conference and its content were determined by the fact that the main task of the BELISSIMA project is the purchase of the robotic telescope "Milankovic" which has the diameter of the main mirror 1.40 m and is mounted at the mountain Vidojevica. The conference was a part of the celebration of 125 years of the AOB. The two previous events dedicated to the celebration were: the celebration of the Day of the AOB (held at the AOB on April 9, 2012) and the exhibition dedicated to the AOB held in the Gallery of Science and Technology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) from June to July 2012. On both occasions the BELISSIMA project was presented. The conference Web site was launched in May 2012 and was hosted at the AOB server (http://futurescience.aob.rs).

The eight sessions planned for the conference are as follows: The Solar System, Stellar Astrophysics, Galactic and Extragalactic Astronomy, Transient Phenomena, Astroinformatics, Virtual Observatory and Computer Modeling, Surveys and Follow-ups, Networking, Robotic Telescopes and Instrumentation and Education, Public Outreach and Popularization of Astronomy. The conference was advertised through usual channels (mails to our previous contacts, mails to the interested researchers and publishing the announcement at the International Astronomy Meetings list). The agreement with the leading European astronomical journal, "Astronomy & Astrophysics" (http://www.aanda.org) was reached and the conference was presented at the A & A Web page. Also, the conference was advertised through various local events (such as the AOB exhibition held at the Gallery of Science and Technology of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts from June to July 2012) and media (Web, newspapers, TV and radio programmes).

Approximately 100 participants took part in the international BELISSIMA conference. The foreign participants came from 13 countries and one participant from Switzerland presented his talk over the Internet using Skype (Dr. Lauren Eyer). The participants came from European countries (Germany, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Russia) and the United States and India. Note that two Greek participants, Dr. Zach Ioannou and Mr. Nikolaos Giakoumidis, were then working in Oman and UAE, respectively. In total there were 34 talks (13 were invited talks) and 16 poster presentations (several poster presentations were devoted to the work of the BELISSIMA collaborators; for example, Ms. Milena Jovanovic presented her work done at the AIP at Potsdam). Also, there were six 40 minutes panel discussions organized to provide the participants the possibility to freely exchange ideas about various topics discussed at the Conference: each panel discussion was moderated by a leading expert in a given field. The Conference summary was given by Prof. Dr. George Djorgovski.

Below we describe the program of the Conference.

Day 1: Tuesday, 18 September 2012.

At the very beginning of the Conference, director of the AOB, Dr. Zoran Knezevic and the coordinator of BELISSIMA, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic presented the work and history of the AOB and the BELISSIMA project, respectively. The main theme of the first day of the Conference was "Meter-Class Telescopes and Instruments". The first invited speaker was Prof. Dr. Anamparambu Ramaprakash (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics, India) who presented the talk (invited talk, IT) "Can small beat the big?" in which he addressed an affordable laser guide star Adaptive Optics (AO) system on 1-2m class telescopes which offer good sky coverage, diffraction limited imaging and robotic operation will open up exciting new observational possibilities such as large surveys, rapid follow-ups etc., and he shared his experience with the concept, design, development and deployment of such an AO system. Dr. Michael Weber (Leibniz-Institut fur Astrophysik Potsdam, AIP, Germany) presented the talk "The STELLA robotic observatory on Tenerife" in which he described the STELLA project made up of two 1.2 m robotic telescopes to simultaneously monitor stellar activity using a high resolution spectrograph on one telescope, and an imaging instrument on the other telescope. Dr. Laurits Leedjarv (Tartu Observatory, Estonia) presented the experiences and plans of the Tartu Observatory that also recently participated in the FP7 REGPOT programme which helped them to improve their human resources and infrastructure. Mr. Volker Perdelwitz (Hamburger Sternwarte, Universitat Hamburg, Germany) presented a talk "Astronomical Fourier Transform Spectroscopy at the Hamburg Observatory" in which he showed recent advances in detector development which have enabled techniques such as Imaging FTS and Post Dispersion, that make Fourier
Transform Spectroscopy competitive again for certain astronomical applications dominated by Echelle Spectroscopy -- he presented the work done at the Hamburg Observatory where several of these techniques for both Stellar and Solar Spectroscopy were being developed. Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic in his "Vidojevica status report 2012" informed the participants of the present situation regarding observations performed at the Vidojevica Astronomical Station (VAS) and the currently active projects. Dr. Frank Grundahl (Aarhus University, Denmark) presented the talk "SONG is starting to sing" (IT) in which he described Stellar Observations Network Group (SONG), an initiative to design and build a global network of 1 m telescopes dedicated to asteroseismology and exoplanet hunting and presented the layout of the instrumentation and the building of prototype node. Dr. Istvan Vince (in collaboration with Dr. Jovan Skuljan) in his talk presented an echelle spectrograph planned for the "Milankovic" telescope to be mounted at the VAS. Dr. Gyula Szabo (MTA Konkoly Observatory, Hungary) presented the talk "Follow-up lucky imaging observations of Kepler targets" in which he introduced the concept of lucky imaging and how it can lead to photometry of objects that otherwise blend. Finally, Prof. Dr. Tanyu Bonev (Institute of Astronomy and NAO - Bulg. Acad. Sci, Bulgaria) presented the talk "New modes of observation at the 2-m telescope of Rozhen observatory: parameters of the instruments and first results" (IT) and reported on the developments made in the last several years. Dr. Tanyu Bonev also led the panel discussion "Telescopes and Instrumentation" at the end of the first day of the BELISSIMA conference.

Day 2: Wednesday, 19 September 2012.

The main theme of the second day of the Conference was "Science With Meter-Class Telescopes". At the beginning of the second day, Dr. Petr Pravec (Astronomical Institute AS CR, Ondrejov, Czech Republic) presented a talk "Asteroid properties from photometric observations: Constraining non-gravitational processes in asteroids" (IT) in which he described the NEOSource project on the Danish 1.54 m telescope on La Silla and the study of non-gravitational processes in asteroids near the Earth. Dr. Theodor Pribulla (Astronomical Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia) gave a talk "Eclipsing binaries - precise clocks to discover exoplanets" about the new observational campaign called DWARF which is aimed at the detection of circumbinary extrasolar planets using the timing of the minima of low-mass eclipsing binaries. In the following talk, Dr. Oliver Vince (AOB) "The DWARF project: Vidojevica" described the Serbian contribution to the DWARF project and the activities performed at Vidojevica. Prof. Dr. Andrea Milani (Department of Mathematics, University of Pisa) in his talk "Surveys with innovative one-meter telescopes: asteroids, debris..." (IT) described the importance of 1-m class telescopes in the studies of very advanced surveys for fast moving objects, including Near Earth Objects (NEO) and Space Debris (SD). Prof. Dr. Alexander Zakharov (Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Russia) in his talk "Exoplanet searches with gravitational microlensing" stressed the importance of 1-m class telescopes for exoplanet searches with micro and/or pixel lensing. Dr. Laurent Eyer (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland) in his talk "GAIA Mission and 1-meter Class Telescopes" (presented via Skype) after the short description of the GAIA mission of the European Space Agency and stressed the importance of meter-class telescopes for the follow-up observations. The first panel discussion on the topic "Science With Meter-Class Telescopes" was moderated by Prof. Dr. Andrea Milani and Dr. Petr Pravec.
The afternoon session started with Dr. Laszlo Kiss (Konkoly Observatory, Hungary) who in his talk "Affordable Doppler velocities to 50 m/s with sub-meter telescopes" (IT)
discussed how recent advances in optical spectroscopy have made possible to measure Doppler velocities down to 50 m/s with surprisingly small optical telescopes -- using the recently installed 0.5 m RC telescope of the ELTE Gothard Astrophysical Observatory and the 1 m RC telescope of the Konkoly Observatory, he and his colleagues have collected extensive observations of pulsating stars as well as exoplanet host stars. Dr. Rade Pavlovic (AOB) (in collaboration with Dr. Zorica Cvetkovic, Mr. Milan Stojanovic and Dr. Oliver Vince) "From the first CCD measurements of double stars at Vidojevica towards speckleinterferometry" presented a statistical review of CCD measurements series for double and multiple stars performed at the Astronomical Station on Vidojevica with cameras Apogee Alta U42 and SBIG ST 10ME. Prof. Dr. Dejan Urosevic (Department of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade) in his talk "Optical detection of the emission nebulae in nearby galaxies" showed the standard way for the detection of emission nebulae in optical part of the spectrum by using photometrical observations in narrow Halpha filter and the use of 1.5 to 2 m telescopes. Ms. Tanya Petrushevska (Stockholm University/Oscar Klein Centre, Sweden) "Search for lensed supernovae by massive galaxy clusters with the 2.5 m Nordic Optical Telescope" in her talk showed that in order to discover otherwise unobservable supernovae (SNe) at high redshift, one can use massive galaxy clusters as magnifying lenses and presented the galaxy clusters (A1689, A1835, A2219, A2218, A1703, A2261) which were observed to search for supernovae in gravitationally magnified background galaxies with two different instruments (MOSCA and ALFOSC) at the 2.5 m Nordic Optical Telescope. Prof. Dr. Petr Heinzel (Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic) in his talk "Observations and modeling of stellar flares" (IT) reviewed the current status of observations of stellar flares with meter-class telescopes and their relation to observations of flares on the Sun-as-a-star and discussed both stellar photometry and spectroscopy. The second part of the panel discussion on the topic "Science With Meter-Class Telescopes" was moderated by Prof. Dr. Petr Heinzel and Dr. Laszlo Kiss.

Day 3: Thursday, 20 September 2012.

There were two main themes of the third day of the Conference: in the morning it was "Networked Telescopes, Networked Science" and the afternoon was dedicated to "Education and Public Outreach". The first talk in the morning was the contribution of Dr. Timothy Brown (LCOGT, USA) who in his talk "LCOGT: A World-wide Network of Robotic Telescopes" (IT) presented Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT), an organization dedicated to time-domain astronomy that carries out the observations in fields such as supernovae, extrasolar planets, small solar-system bodies, and pulsating stars -- he and his colleagues developed and are now deploying a set of robotic optical telescopes at sites around the globe and Dr. Brown described the core of this network, consisting of up to 15 identical 1m telescopes deployed across multiple sites in both the northern and southern hemispheres and discussed the network organization, including communication among telescopes, interactions among the institutions and scientists who will use the network, and their funding model. Mr. Denis Denisenko in the talk "Results and Perspectives of the MASTER Robotic Telescopes Network" presented the MASTER Net of Mobile AStronomical TElescopes-Robots which has been developed since 2002 and started its fully autonomous operation in March 2011 and consists of five identical binocular telescopes with a total of ten 0.4-m tubes corresponding to the effective aperture of 1.25 m. Dr. Zach Ioannou (SQU, Oman) in his talk "The 2012 AE Aqr Multiwavelegth Campaign" presented the results from a multiwavelength campaign on the Cataclysmic Variable star consisting of the fastest spinning white dwarf -- the campaign was undertaken by simultaneous observation of ground (optical and TeV) and space (X-ray) observatories and the contribution of the work done at the Vidojevica Astronomical Station as a part of the network was also emphasized. Prof. Dr. George Djorgovski in his talk "Exploration of the Time Domain" (IT) addressed synoptic sky surveys which are becoming the largest data generators in astronomy -- opening of the time domain to a systematic exploration strengthens our understanding of a number of interesting known phenomena, and may lead to the discoveries of as yet unknown ones; time domain astronomy is inherently astronomy of telescope and computational systems, where small telescopes can do big science. Mr. Nikolaos Giakoumidis (Department of Computer Engineering, UAE) in his talk "Simulating a Global Robotic Telescope Network" presented a simulation of a global robotic telescope network which is autonomously and dynamically controlled with minimal human interaction: the system autonomously selects and observes targets in accordance to an optimized target list and it dynamically allocates telescope resources depending on local weather conditions also taking into consideration data quality issues. The first panel discussion was "Networked Telescopes, Networked Science" and was moderated by Dr. Timothy Brown and Dr. Zach Ioannou.
The first presentation in the afternoon was a talk by Prof. Dr. Olga Atanackovic (Department of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade) "Astronomy education and popularization in Serbia" (IT) in which astronomy education at all levels (elementary and secondary schools, universities) in Serbia was reviewed with a special emphasis on recent changes introduced in the accredited study programs at all five state universities; the activities of the amateur astronomical societies in Serbia were also outlined. The panel discussion "Education, Public Outreach and Popularization of Astronomy" was moderated by Prof. Dr. Olga Atanackovic and Prof. Dr. Tijana Prodanovic (University of Novi Sad). Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Longo (Universita degli Studi Federico II, Napoli, Italy) presented a talk "Astroinformatics, virtual observatory and web 2.0" (IT) in which he showed that the size and complexity of modern astronomical data sets require the interoperability of data centers and data archives as well the possibility for the average user to access large computational facilities and that Virtual Observatory has largely solved most of the problems related to data interoperability and has also provided the community with a wealth of tools capable to effectively deal with a distributed data environment. The panel discussion "Astroinformatics" was moderated by Prof. Dr. George Djorgovski.

Day 4: Friday, 21 September 2012.

The main theme of the final, fourth day of the Conference was "Celebrating the 125-years of the AOB". Dr. Paolo Battinelli (INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Rome, Italy, the attache for science to the Italian embassy in Belgrade) presented a talk "Asymptotic Giant Branch stars" (IT) in which he discussed the role of AGB stars, in particular Miras, Oxygen-rich and Carbon-rich stars, in understanding the structure of Local Group galaxies and the history of the Milky Way halo; he also stressed the importance of work of Rudjer Boskovic. Dr. Dragana Ilic (Department of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade) in her talk "Long term optical monitoring of AGN" presented the long-term spectral monitoring campaign (in which some of the members of the AOB participate) in the optical band of a sample of broad emission line AGN, using 1m and 6m telescopes of SAO, Russia, and INAOE 2.1m telescope and OAN-SPM 2.1m telescope, Mexico. Dr. Edi Bon (AOB) in his talk "First Spectroscopically resolved orbit of a supermassive black hole binary" presented an observational evidence for the first spectroscopically resolved sub-parsec Keplerian orbit of a supermassive black hole binary system in the core of a Seyfert galaxy. Ms. Olivera Latkovic (AOB) in her talk (based on the work done with Dr. Gojko Djurasevic, Dr. Istvan Vince and Mr. Attila Cseki from the AOB) "Modeling of Interacting Binary Systems" presented a summary of recent results and publications of the binary star research group within the project Stellar Physics at the AOB -- this study is mainly focused on close, interacting binary stars in various stages of mass transfer, from systems in deep overcontact configurations, to systems with accretion disks. The talk by Dr. Jiri Kubat (Astronomical Institute Ondrejov, Czech Republic) "Mass-loss rates of hot stars" (work done in collaboration with Dr. Brankica Surlan, Astronomical Institute Ondrejov, Czech Republic) (IT) was dedicated to the description of the methods of hot star mass-loss rates determination based on observations in ultraviolet, visual, infrared, and radio spectral regions -- the effect of wind inhomogeneities was taken into account. The panel discussion "Future Science" and the Conference summary and closing remarks were moderated and given by Prof. Dr. George Djorgovski. He suggested that meter-class telescopes can provide important contribution to astronomy in the following areas of research: extrasolar planets, time-domain astronomy and the nature of dark energy. Prof. Dr. Djorgovski stressed the importance of international collaboration and networking. He also emphasized the need of the follow-up observations especially for multicolor photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy.

In the afternoon of the last day of the Conference the reception at Astronomical Observatory Belgrade at the Zvezdara Hill was organized: the Observatory was shown to the foreign participants and the visit to the 65 cm refracting telescope of the AOB was organized. The conference "Future Science With Meter-Class Telescopes" held in Belgrade from 18 to 21 September 2012 was extremely important for the future activities of the AOB and that all of its goals were completely fulfilled. The international BELISSIMA conference provided the guidelines for the work of the future "Milankovic" telescope to be mounted at the Vidojevica Astronomical Station -- the suggested future use of the "Milankovic" telescope includes: a) to help generate legacy data sets in large collaborations (networking is important), b) follow-up observations of targets selected from surveys (application of time-domain astronomy), c) training and technology development and testing and d) specialization and optimization.

After the international BELISSIMA conference was printed in the series of the Publications of the AOB (ISBN: 978-86-80019-61-1) in 500 copies and widely distributed. The editors are: Drs. Srdjan Samurovic, Branislav Vukotic and Miroslav Micic.

5) June 2016: The Second BELISSIMA workshop

The title of the second BELISSIMA workshop was "First Light of the Milankovic Telescope" and this indicated the aim of the organizers of the workshop to provide the first images obtained with the telescope during its duration. The site The workshop was held 6-7 June 2016 at the resort "Beli kamen" ("The White Stone") near the town of Prokuplje, in the vicinity of the VAS and only 2.5 km from the telescope "Milankovic" telescope. The site (http://firstlight.aob.rs) was hosted on the AOB server. There were 40 registered participants and apart from the numerous members of the AOB staff, members of the staff of the Department of Astronomy of the University of Belgrade (Prof. Dr. Olga Atanackovic), of the Department of Physics, University of Nis (Prof. Dr. Goran Djordjevic) the following 15 foreign experts also took part in the activities of the workshop: Prof. Dr. Pavel Kroupa (Helmholtz-Institut fur Strahlen und Kernphysik (HISKP), Bonn, Germany), Dr. Michal Bilek (Astronomical Institute of the Charles University in Prague, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic), Dr. Behnam Javanmardi (Argelander-Institut fur Astronomie (AIfA), Universitat Bonn, Germany), Dr. Christian Henkel (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany), Dr. Ingo Thies (Argelander-Institut fur Astronomie (AIfA), Universität Bonn, Germany), Dr. Zach Ioannou (Greece, presently at the Physics Department, College of Science, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman), Dr. John Keith Davies (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, United Kingdom), Dr. Viktor L. Afanasiev (Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Science, Russian Federation), Dr. Tibor Hegedus (Baja Observatory of the Szeged University, Hungary), Dr. Janos Nuspl (Konkoly Observatory, Hungary), Mr. Nils Wittenburg (Argelander-Institut fur Astronomie (AIfA), Universität Bonn, Germany), Prof. Dr. Gordana Apostolovska (Institute of Physics, Faculty of Sciences, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia), Dr. Barna Imre Biro (Baja Observatory Hungary of the Szeged University), Mr. Egon Doberl (ASA -- Astrosysteme Austria) and Mr. Philipp Keller (ASA -- Astrosysteme Austria).

Below, we describe the content of the presentations.

Day 1: Monday, 06 June 2016.

The workshop was opened with a speech of Ms. Zeljka Dukic, senior adviser of the MESTDRS who showed that the MESTDRS supported BELISSIMA from the very beginning and the interest of the Ministry for the project. Then the two directors of the AOB in the period of realization of BELISSIMA, Dr. Gojko Djurasevic (December 2014-present) and Dr. Zoran Knezevic (2010-December 2014) greeted the participants and explained the importance of BELISSIMA for science in Serbia. This first part of the conference was concluded by Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, coordinator of BELISSIMA who described the whole project, its WPs, the goals of the project and its accomplishments. The telescope "Milankovic" of the main mirror od 1.40 m was described in detail by two guests from the ASA company from Austria that manufactured the telescope, the engineer Mr. Philipp Keller and the CEO of the company, Mr. Egon Doberl in their talk at the beginning of the second session. Dr. John Keith Davies from the UK presented the FP7 project OPTICON (Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network for astronomy) which brings together all the national and international agencies and organisations which fund, support, develop and operate Europe’s facilities for optical and infrared astronomy night-time astronomy and present some conclusions after six years of operation. Prof. Dr. Pavel Kroupa from Germany in his talk discussed the distribution of matter in the Local Group of galaxies, in the Local Volume and in the Local Universe and its compatibilty with the modern dark-matter-based standard model of cosmology: he showed the incompatibility of this model with the observed data and emphasized the importance of the "Milankovic" for the future surveys for performing further tests of structure formation in non-dark-matter frameworks. This line of investigation was futher developed in the contribution of Dr. Behnam Javanmardi also from Germany who in his talk presented cutting-edge research performed using the newly launched Dwarf Galaxy Survey with Amateur Telescopes (DGSAT) which uses long exposure images obtained by 10-80 cm telescopes has, in its first application, already discovered 11 dwarf galaxy candidates around 6 nearby Milky-Way-type galaxies and the contribution of the "Milankovic" telescope to this project. Dr. Michal Bilek from the Czech Republic, the participant of the BELISSIMA who visited the AOB in the late 2015, presented stellar shells in early-type galaxies which are arc-like remnants of accreted satellites and importance of their observations with the "Milankovic" telescope for the purpose of the explanation of the formation the shells, what they can tell us about the gravitational potential of their host galaxy, and how they can prove or disprove the existence of dark matter. In the next talk, Dr. Viktor L. Afanasiev from the Russian Federation described the perspectives of moderate resolution spectroscopy on 1-2 m size telescopes and discussed the tasks and instruments. The talk by Dr. Barna Imre Biro from Hungary concluded the Monday morning sessions: in his talk he described how the elimination of stray light in the reflective telescopes of Baja Astronomical Observatory was performed. On the Monday afternoon the participants of the second BELISSIMA workshop visited the VAS and both telescopes mounted there: the 60 cm telescope and the newly mounted "Milankovic" 1.40 m telescope. Both telescopes were shown to the participants of the workshop. The members of the ASA team provided answers to various questions regarding the performance of the "Milankovic" telescope. The planned remote observation session with the "Milankovic" telescope could not be performed on the Monday night because of the poor weather conditions. Therefore, the first light of the "Milankovic" telescope was taken on Tuesday, 7 June after the official end of the second BELISSIMA workshop. The quality of the images is excellent.

Day 2: Tuesday, 07 June 2016

The second day of the second BELISSIMA workshop started with the talk of Dr. Zach Ioannou from Greece (presently in Oman), another BELISSIMA collaborator, who in his talk prepared together with Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic, showed a real-time data reduction pipeline for time-series photometry in which incoming images from a telescope are processed and accurate photometric and astrometric solutions are available in real-time, and this package will soon be tested at the "Milankovic" telescope. Dr. Tibor Hegedus from Hungary presented the strategies of observational project planning by small ground-based telescopes and discussed the strategies in planning ground-based observing projects of a single-aperture, small-field telescopes. Dr. Christian Henkel from Germany in his talk discussed edge-on galaxies in the local Universe and what we can learn from them. The Tuesday morning session was concluded with Dr. Janos Nuspl who in his talk presented a retrospective of experiences with small telescopes in the context of the regional collaborations. The final session started with the presentation of Dr. Ingo Thies, made in collaboration with Dr. P. Kroupa and Dr. Benoit Famaey, in which he showed the process of simulating disk galaxies and interactions in the dynamics based on the MOND (Modified Newtonoan Dynamics) theory: the new observations with the "Milankovic" telescope will be useful for making comparisons with the theoretical predictions. In the next presentation Prof. Dr. Gordana Apostolovska, made in collaboration with Dr. Olgica Kuzmanovska, described in detail the astronomical research in the Republic of Macedonia and the possibilities of collaboration. Prof. Dr. Olga Atanackovic in her talk "Astronomy education and popularization in Serbia 2012-2016" provided the review on astronomy education at all levels (elementary and secondary schools, universities) and popularization of astronomy in Serbia in the past four years and emphasized the importance of the "Milankovic" telescope in training of future researchers as well as in public outreach. The last presentation at the workshop was the talk by Mr. Nils Wittenburg, a PhD student from Germany who discussed simulated galaxy formation in MOND. On both days of the workshop the posters by the researchers from the AOB and Nis were exhibited and they showed the current state of research in Serbia and provided another opportunity to discuss the future collaborations. In total, nine posters were presented.

All the contributions showed that the future research based on the observations with the "Milankovic" telescope will be cutting-edge. The collaborations of the AOB with the observatories and institutes in the region and beyond will strengthen its position as one of the most reputable scientific institutes in Serbia. The contributions from the second BELISSIMA workshop are printed on the CDROM (ISBN: 978-86-80019-75-8). The editors are: Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, Ms. Monika Jurkovic, Ms. Milena Jovanovic, Mr. Nemanja Martinovic, Mr. Milan Stojanovic and Ms. Miljana Jovanovic. In total 300 copies of optical disks were printed.

Another important aspect of the BELISSIMA project is organization of visits to various European observatories and institutes for the purpose of training and obtaing skills for the work with the new equipment. The list of the visits is as follows.

-- two long-term (six months in total) visits of the members of the AOB staff were organized in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics (AIP) in Potsdam, Germany in collaboration with Dr. Michael Weber, collaborator of BELISSIMA: Ms. Monika Jurkovic visited the AIP from April to June 2012 for the purpose of training with the new instruments to be mounted on the "Milankovic" telescope and Milena Jovanovic visited the AIP form June to August 2012 where she joined the Stellar Activity group and in particular the part of it connected to the STELLA project (observatory hosting two robotic 1.2 m telescopes).

-- the visit to the Orliakas Astronomy Station in Greece in August 2010: Drs. Milan Bogosavljevic and Rade Pavlovic visited Grevena (Greece) for a meeting with Orliakas Astronomy Station project team headed by Dr. Zach Ioannou, collaborator of BELISSIMA. They learned about the experiences of the Greek colleagues in building their station. Unfortunately, due to the financial crisis the Orliakas station is now on hold.

-- the participation in the meeting "Big Science With Small Telescopes" held in Dornburg, near Jena, Germany, in October 2010: Drs. Milan Bogosavljevic and Oliver Vince visited Dornburg, near Jena (Germany) and presented the BELISSIMA project and consulted the experts in the field of modern observatory technical design regarding the construction of the "Milankovic" telescope.

-- the observations performed at the Observatory Piszkesteto in the mountain Matra, Hungary, in February 2011: Drs. Zorica Cvetkovic, Rade Pavlovic and Oliver Vince got acquainted with Andor iXon + 888 back-illuminated EMCCD camera and discussed the plans for the purchase of the speckle interferometer which will be mounted on the new "Milankovic" telescope. This instrument will be used for the observations of visually binary stars with close components (the separation is less than 1 arcsec). The speckle interferometry is an observational technique of high angular resolution which is used to resolve close components of binary stars and is used for the determination of their relative coordinates. The speckle interferometer is made of several components, and the main part is a fast CCD camera which may make shots in small time intervals (order of several milliseconds).

-- the visit to the telescopes at Tenerife and La Palma in February/March 2011: Drs. Milan Bogosavljevic and Oliver Vince visited Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife and Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. The two participants of the BELISSIMA project have traveled to Canary Islands, Spain for a working visit to two major observatory sites. The reasons for this visit were twofold. Firstly, with respect to the detailed design and technical specifications for the purchase of the "Milankovic" telescope, they had a number of meetings with staff astronomers and engineers of similar small to medium-sized telescopes in Tenerife and La Palma. Their second intention was to investigate and discuss the design of the building and supporting infrastructure for the functioning of the telescope.

-- the participation in the "Second workshop on Robotic Autonomous Observatories" held in Malaga, Spain in June 2011: the group of five astronomers, participants of the BELISSIMA project, members of the AOB staff (Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic, Dr. Oliver Vince, Ms. Monika Jurkovic, Mr. Milan Stojanovic, and Mr. Nemanja Martinovic) participated in the work of workshop at which they also presented a talk related to the "Milankovic" telescope (Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic) and a poster with the details on the 60 cm telescope mounted at the VAS. As one important aspect of their visit, related to training activities, we mention here the visit of the BELISSIMA group to the robotic observatory BOOTES-2 (the Burst Observer and Optical Transient Exploring System) which was organized in collaboration with Dr. Alberto Castro Tirada. The observatory is situated in Algarrobo Costa near the town of Malaga.

-- the participation in the "Hands-on Strong Gravitational Lensing School" held at Excellence Cluster Universe, Garching, Germany in June 2011: Mr. Marko Stalevski a research associate at the AOB, participated in a 4-day practical training held at Excellence Cluster Universe, Garching, Germany from 14th to 17th June 2011, for PhD and younger prospective graduate students in Astronomy and Physics.

-- the participation in the summer school "Opto-Mechanical Design in Astronomy" was held at the Astrophysical Institute of Potsdam (AIP) in Potsdam, Germany in June 2011: Drs. Milan Bogosavljevic and Oliver Vince participated in the work of the summer school which was held at the AIP in Potsdam and was divided into two parts: the theoretical part which was organized in the mornings and participants were attending classes related to the design of telescopes and the practial part which was organized in the afternoons and was held in the Media Communication Center (MCC) at AIP. The participants designed some mechanical parts and investigated their properties (such as stiffness) using INVENTOR and ANSYS tools. ZEMAX was used to learn how to optimize the optical system for a telescope and to connect telescope to other devices like CCD and fiber spectrograph.

-- the participation in the observing NEON school held at Molutai Astronomical Observatory, Lithuania in July 2011: the member of the AOB staff, Mr. Nemanja Martinovic took part in the work of the 2011 NEON (Network of European Observatories in the North) summer school held at Moletai Astronomical Observatory, Lithuania. The School was organized to provide the opportunity for young researchers to gain practical experience in observational techniques, data reduction and analysis. During the whole time of the school a series of lectures was organized on various topics of general interest (observational and data reduction techniques, instrumentation and presentation of some of the European observing facilities, etc). At the end of the School successful participants were presented with diplomas (acknowledging minimum of 125 hours of work load during the school) and general discussion was held addressing topics of interest for young researchers in various field of astrophysics.

-- participation in the work of the SPIE conference "Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation" held in June 2016 at the Edinburgh International Conference Center: Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic particpated in the biggest and most prestigious event in the world dealing with technology related to telescopes and astronomical instrumentation and was organized by the International Society for Optics and Photonics. Dr. Bogosavljevic presented with Dr. Zach Ioannou (collaborator of BELISSIMA) his work "Implementing a real-time data stream for time-series stellar photometry" related to the pipeline tested on the 60 cm telescope at the VAS and which will also be tested at the "Milankovic" telescope. Dr. Bogosavljevic also made numerous contacts there regarding the procurement of the instruments of the latest generation for the "Milankovic" telescope.

Also, foreign researchers came to the AOB after the invitation of the Management board of the BELISSIMA project:

Dr. Zach Ioannou (from Greece, presently at the Sultan Qaboos University, Oman) came from Thessaloniki to Belgrade where he stayed from 28 March to 02 April 2011. Dr. Ioannou is one of the creators of the Astronomical Station Orliakas. He helped the members of the staff of the AOB with the writing of the technical documentation regarding the construction and purchasing of the telescope "Milankovic" and also also discussed the scientific collaboration with the AOB.

Dr. Michael Weber from the AIP visited the AOB from 12 to 19 October 2011 in order to establish future scientific collaboration and discuss future projects. As a result of his visit two long-term visits of the members of the AOB staff were organized: Ms. Monika Jurkovic visited the AIP from April to June 2012 and Ms. Milena Jovanovic visited the AIP from June to August 2012.

Dr. Michal Bilek (Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic) stayed at the AOB from 5 October to 5 December 2015 and worked on the preparation of the observing program for the new 1.40 m telescope "Milankovic". He visited the VAS in November 2015 together with Dr. Oliver Vince and learned about the possibilities of the observing site. He studies shell galaxies both observationally and theoretically and prepared and submitted the observing proposal to the director of the AOB, Dr. Gojko Djurasevic for observing low surface brightness objects using the already existing 60 cm telescope and the Milankovic telescope: he suggested the observations of tidal features and galactic satellites and his observing proposal included a detailed list of approximately 160 interesting objects that can be observed from the VAS.

Below are the BELISSIMA activities performed in Serbia and related to promoting the AOB and BELISSIMA:

-- the members of the AOB staff participated in two National Conferences of the Serbian Astronomers (NKAS). At the 16th NKAS held from 10 to 12 October 2011 in Belgrade the BELISSIMA project was presented in a talk by the coordinator. Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, as well as with a poster. Also, several contributions of interest for the BELISSIMA project were also presented. The contributions were printed in the book of the proceedings. At the 17th NKAS held from 23 to 27 September 2014 in Belgrade the BELISSIMA project was again presented, this time in an invited lecture, by the coordinator. Dr. Srdjan Samurovic. The two contributions by the members of the AOB staff related to BELISSIMA and the VAS were also presented. The book of proceedings is in print.

-- BELISSIMA participated in the Fourth Festival of Science held in Belgrade in December 2010. This is a manifestation aimed mostly at school children who come in large groups with their teachers and the presentations therefore are as accessible as possible. BELISSIMA presented an interactive exhibition dedicated to the problem of energy and also had a presentation about a bright meteor which exploded in the south of Serbia two weeks before the Festival. The trajectory of this meteor was studied by the collaborators of the BELISSIMA project.

-- the participants of the BELISSIMA project and collaborators of the Petnica Science Center from 27 to 30 October 2011 successfully realized activities of the international observing project MoneCom at the VAS. MoneCom is related to the MONET telescopes led by the Institute for Astrophysics from Goettingen, McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas and South African Astronomical Observatory. There are two telescopes with the mirrors of 1.2 m, one on each hemisphere. The northern one is in Texas and the southern one is in South Africa. Since modern telescopes can be controlled over the Internet, several institutions from different countries took part in the observing program. Upon the invitation of Dr. Frederic Hessman from Goettingen (who already participated in the executive meeting of the BELISSIMA project in 2010 and in the work of the BELISSIMA workshop in 2011) one school from Croatia, two schools from Greece and Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic, Milan Bozic and Ivan Milic, collaborators of Petnica Science Center jointly suggested the project of the study of the comets of the main asteroid belt. Dr. Zach Ioannou (Greece), also collaborator of the BELISSIMA project provided support for the observing activity.

-- In the Gallery of Science and Technology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) in the presence of numerous distinguished guests the exhibition "The House on the Starry Road" was opened on 7 June 2012. This exhibition was dedicated to the celebration of 125 years of work of AOB. The exhibition was opened by academic Zoran Petrovic, director of the Gallery, Dr Zoran Knezevic, then director of the AOB and corresponding member of the SANU and academic Nikola Hajdin, president of the SANU. The exhibition which remained open until 6 July 2012, and it presented the development of AOB, its present and its future. Numerous instruments, medals, books and publications, as well the letters from the AOB collection were shown. The BELISSIMA project is also presented as well as the VAS. During the period of this exhibition the lectures dedicated to the astronomical work at the AOB were given by Dr. Slobodan Ninkovic (history of the AOB) and Dr. Srdjan Samurovic (the BELISSIMA project).

-- the workshop of the Association of Italian and Serbian Scientists and Researchers (Associazione Italiani e Serbi Scienziati e Studiosi, AIS3) was organized at the University of Belgrade from 25 to 26 June 2012. This was the first meeting of the association initiated by Dr. Paolo BattinellI, astrophysicist from Rome and the science attache of the Italian embassy in Belgrade. The meeting "Serbia--Italia, Status and Perspectives of the Scientific and Technological Bilateral Cooperation" gathered speakers from Serbia and Italy who presented their work and collaborations. Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, coordinator of the BELISSIMA project, on behalf of the AOB, delivered a talk "Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade: Institutional and Individual Cooperation with Italy". After presenting the collaborations of Dr. Knezevic and his own, he particularly emphasized the importance of BELISSIMA for the future of the AOB and presented the results of the project and the plans for the future as well as the participation of the colleagues from Italy in the project. The contribution by Dr. Samurovic and Dr. Knezevic was printed in the book of proceedings of the workshop.

-- the Ministry of Foreign and Internal Trade and Telecommunications and Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development in collaboration of the ACCESS program of the German GIZ organization organized the workshop "International programs of collaboration: Successful implementation of FP7 projects" from 31 October to 1 November 2012 at the Club of Deputies (Klub poslanika) in Belgrade. The BELISSIMA project was one of two "Case Studies" and it was presented by its coordinator, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic.

-- Mr. Milan Stojanovic, member of the staff of the AOB, national contact person for space and the participant of the BELISSIMA project presented the AOB and the BELISSIMA project at "Horizon 2020 Space Infoday" and "Workshop on Space Science and Technology Co-operation" held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 19 to 20 April 2016. The conference was organized by the European Commission and the COSMOS2020 network that gathers all the national contact persons for space and space research in Horizon 2020. Within the section "Good practices on successful implementation of EU funds in Space RTD", Mr. Stojanovic presented the BELISSIMA project as one successful and good example of the FP7 project. He also presented the poster of BELISSIMA (both the poster and his presentation were made in cooperation with the coordinatator of BELISSIMA, Dr. S. Samurovic).

-- as a part of the training activities of the BELISSIMA project Prof. Dr. Istvan Vince, the leader of WP2, held on 30-31 May 2011 in the library of AOB a two-day seminar dedicated to photometic and spectroscopic measurements during which the participants, members of the AOB staff, learned the details about the photometic observations and the spectrometer to be used at the 60 cm telescope at the VAS.

-- the members of the AOB staff participated in two Letenka astronomical camps. From 21 to 24 July 2011 the 11th international Astronomical Camp was organized on Letenka which is located in the National Park Fruska Gora, Serbia. The camp was organized by "Astronomski magazin" ("Astronomical magazine") and was sponsored by the Secretariat for Science and Technological Development of Vojvodina and the Department of Physics from Novi Sad. The camp is attended by people interested in astronomy. Dr. Oliver Vince gave a lecture about the VAS and project BELISSIMA. The 12th international Astronomical Camp was organized at Letenka from 19 to 22 July 2012 and Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic presented a talk "How small telescopes can work for big science". The lecture was aimed at astronomers amateurs who want to follow the information from big observatories about the latest discoveries of interesting variable sources.

-- Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic and Dr. Miroslav Micic on behalf of the BELISSIMA project participated as guests on 16 May 2011 at the astronomy seminar in the Research Center in Petnica. Dr. Bogosavljevic trained the participants to operate the 1.50 m MONET telescope in Texas with the aim of observing a very special class of objects, comets in the asteroid belt. Dr. Micic delivered a lecture about astronomical numerical simulations and discussed his work with the participants of the astronomy seminar.

-- BELISSIMA participated in "10 Days of Astronomy", event held in Daruvar, Croatia 29-31 March 2012. Dr. Oliver Vince presented the VAS and the BELISSIMA project.

-- the AOB had the honor on 8 November 2010 to host Prof. Sir Arnold Wolfendale, FRS, 14th Astronomer Royal. Prof. Wolfendale who came to Belgrade at the invitation of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts visited the Observatory and was shown the Great refractor by Dr. Istvan Vince, deputy director of AOB and leader of WP2 of the BELISSIMA project, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic, coordinator of the BELISSIMA project and Dr. Oliver Vince, member of the staff of the Observatory. Prof. Wolfendale spoke with the staff of the Observatory and the BELISSIMA project was described to him.

-- BELISSIMA established the cooperation with Amateur Astronomers Association of Serbia from the very beginning of the project and several activities related to the training and dissemination of astronomy were jointly performed (remote observing session with a robotic telescope, training at the 60 cm telescope at the VAS).

-- the collaboration with the researchers from Nis through various initiatives such as Southeastern European Network in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics (SEENET-MTP) led by Dr. Goran S. Djordjevic and the department of Natural Science and Mathematics, Nis University for the purpose of dissemination of science.

Within the BELISSIMA project several important dissemination and promotion printing activities were successfully completed:

-- at the very beginning of the BELISSIMA project a recognizable logo was created: the logo he created successfully combines both telescope dome and the initial, "M" of the "Milankovic" telescope. This logo is always put (together with EU flag, FP7 logo and AOB logo) on BELISSIMA publications and Web pages.

-- the brochure presenting the AOB and BELISSIMA was printed in June 2011 in Serbian (ISBN: 978-86-80019-45-1, 2000 copies) and in English (ISBN: 978-86-80019-46-8, 1000 copies). The editors are Dr. Srdjan Samurovic and Dr. Milan Cirkovic.

-- the BELISSIMA multimedia DVD was printed in September 2013 in 5000 copies and it contains various information about the AOB and the BELISSIMA project. Among other things, the disk contains 4 BELISSIMA TV episodes and the BELISSIMA brochures in the electronic form, as well as an extensive photo library which shows the AOB and the VAS. The disk was given on various occasions (meetings, camps, visits to the AOB and VAS, etc).

-- two opticals disks with the presentations from both BELISSIMA workshops were printed and they also contain addition photo material. Both CDROMs were pressed in 300 copies and widely distributed.

-- the proceedings book from the BELISSIMA international conference was printed in the series of the Publications of the AOB (ISBN: 978-86-80019-61-1).

-- BELISSIMA produced 6 episodes of the TV programme that presents the work of the AOB, VAS and the "Milankovic" telescope. The episodes were distributed to several TV stations (Serbian Scientific Television, LINKedu Television), also through YouTube and the BELISSIMA Web site.

-- the leaflets about the AOB and BELISSIMA were printed on the occasion of the exhibition held at the Serbian Academy in 2012.

-- the dedicated Web page of the BELISSIMA project (http://belissima.aob.rs) was established from the very beginning of the project and provided the updated information about the project: on two occasions, separate Web pages were created and linked to the main BELISSIMA page, such as for the international BELISSIMA conference (http://futurescience.aob.rs) and the second BELISSIMA workshop (http://firstlight.aob.rs). Also, the VAS has its own Web page hosted at the AOB server (http://vidojevica.aob.rs). Also, the Web page dedicated to the software that can be used with both 60 cm telescope as well as the "Milankovic" telescope is available at the AOB Web site, "Exposure Time Calculator" (http://exposure.aob.rs)

-- the only image of the meteor entering the atmosphere above Serbia was taken by the all-sky camera at the VAS (recorded on 12 November 2010) and the information was given to various media outlets.

-- the collaboration with Vuk Karadzic Foundation from Belgrade which publishes regularly the Serbian illustrated almanac "Danica" initiated by Serbian linguist and major reformer of the Serbian language Vuk Karadzic in Vienna in 1825. This almanac is widely distributed in Serbia (among others, all school libraries receive a copy of it) and abroad. Among the contributions, in the section "Astronomy" several articles written by the coordinator of the BELISSIMA project, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic were published: in 2011 the mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope and its importance for astronomy and science was announced, in 2012 the possible observations of minor planets with the "Milankovic" telescope were discussed, in 2013 the 125th year of the AOB was marked and the emphasis was given to the BELISSIMA project and its importance for the future of this distinguished institution. Now with the "Milankovic" telescope fully operational, a text about this important new instrument will be published in the almanac for 2017.

- - the BELISSIMA project collaborated with the scientific radio programme "Solaris" hosted by Srdja Jankovic and broadcast by Radio Belgrade 2 in 2011. This is programme is, it should be noted, practically the only existing radio programme dedicated to science in Serbia and is widely listened both by professionals and laymen. The following collaborators of the project BELISSIMA participated in "Solaris" Dr. Zorica Cvetkovic presented the work done on the research of the visually binary stars and the plans for the purchase of the new equipment for the observations of these objects, Dr. Gojko Djurasevic presented the research of the close binary stellar systems and the plans for the purchase of the new equipment for the observations of these objects, Dr. Srdjan Samurovic presented the work of the BELISSIMA project done in all work packages and announced future activities related to the construction of the "Milankovic" telescope and Dr. Milan Cirkovic participated in the broadcast which was dedicated to the fiftieth anniversary of the first human journey into outer space.

-- the BELISSIMA project collaborated with the Research Center in Petnica: Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic and Dr. Miroslav Micic on behalf of the BELISSIMA project participated as guests in May 2011 at the astronomy seminar in the Research Center in Petnica. Dr. Bogosavljevic trained the participants to operate the 1.50m MONET telescope in Texas with the aim of observing a very special class of objects, comets in the asteroid belt. This is just one of many projects that are already planned for the future research performed on the "Milankovic" telescope. Dr. Micic delivered a lecture about astronomical numerical simulations and discussed his work with the participants of the astronomy seminar.

-- visits of groups of teachers of physics to the VAS were organized.

WP5. Project Management

The project management of the BELISSIMA project was done by the Management board of the project and coordinated by Dr. Srdjan Samurovic. The Management board included all the leaders of WPs (as given above) and had meetings on a regular basis when the activities of the project were discussed and the tasks for a future work were created. The Management board worked together with the finance and legal offices of the AOB to secure the efficient execution of the foreseen tasks. All the foreseen activities were completed completed successfully, the most important being the mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope at the Vidojevica mountain, one of the best telescopes at this moment in Europe.

The importance of the BELISSIMA project for Serbian science cannot be denied. The project created favourable conditions for the return of Serbian researchers working abroad and three astronomers initiated their professional careers at the AOB. With the mounting of the "Milankovic" 1.40 m telescope new technologies in the field of optics, astronomy, informatics, and electronics were brought to Serbia and will be used for the purpose of expanding the already strong scientific research programs at the AOB. Several meetings organized by BELISSIMA served to establish new contacts and to strengthen the existing ones with researchers from the region and beyond. The BELISSIMA project improved scientific literacy in Serbia through TV programs, publishing of the Proceedings from its meetings, the AOB brochure and multimedia DVD. The forging of new collaborations and strengthening of the existing ones with partners from the Western Balkans and with the leading European scientific institutions will most certainly lead to an increased local, regional and European visibility of the AOB and to a high-quality scientific output. The importance of BELISSIMA for astronomy for Serbia and the Western Balkans region was recognized by the EC and the project was included in the section "Success Stories" at the EC Web site with the text "Serbia is a rising star in astronomical research". The story was first published on the FP7 Web pages and was later also published in the Horizon 2020 section (https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/serbia-rising-star-astronomical-research). The BELISSIMA Web site will remain active after the end of the project providing information and multimedia content and new information. New material will be added regularly.

Potential Impact:
Introduction

The major impact of the BELISSIMA project will consist of setting up the sustainable research partnerships between the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade (AOB) and the most competitive centers of astronomical and space science research in SEE and WBC. The already important scientific output is expected to be significantly stronger after the mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope performed in May 2016 at the mountain Vidojevica. The success of the BELISSIMA project will be crucial both for successful integration of Serbia into the research map of Europe in the domain of space science, astronomy and related fields, and for wider and deeper partnership of WBC with the rest of the convergence region and EU. This will enable Serbia to put various interdisciplinary activities (such as Information and Communication Technology, Electronics, Earth sciences etc.) on firm and healthy institutional foundations. With the goal of BELISSIMA to put groundworks for future membership of the AOB in Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network for Astronomy (OPTICON) achieved, the Serbian astronomers will have the possibility to participate in a cutting-edge science. The first successful contacts with the representative of OPTICON have been established during the second BELISSIMA workshop held in June 2016 at Vidojevica. The AOB through a professional and adequately resourced research management infrastructure fully implemented and monitored the research management strategy: this include guiding, directing and overseeing of different activities in order to maximize the impact of the planned activities, as well as of contingent research activities and the processes of their integration into ERA. It included assistance and training in identifying and applying to additional sources of funding, and presenting innovative research applications. The research management was also involved in exploiting research results in the widest sense -- through knowledge transfer and dissemination, promotion and popularization (DPP) activities directed toward both policy-makers and general public. The AOB through DPP of research results contributed significantly to the raising public awareness of the importance of astronomy and science in general because the understanding of the importance of the results in astronomy for the very future of humanity hinges on the proper public understanding of science. Thus, the work on DPP activities has direct societal relevance and enormous benefits, especially in view of the necessity to bring the level of social life and public discourse up to the EU standards. The organization of the meetings in BELISSIMA served multiple research, organizational, and promotional purposes under the general umbrella of the BELISSIMA project. Besides the exchange of data and results characterizing each such event, it was the opportunity for newly hired researchers to meet their regional peers and potential collaborators from the AOB's partner institutions in a less formal and more relaxed environment, which contributed to the increase in "grassroots" collaborative projects. Publishing the proceedings of the BELISSIMA meetings which were distributed widely, not only among our research partners, but also using the AOB's network of regular correspondents and library-exchange programs which currently encompasses about 150 institutions in more than 40 countries around the world contributes to the promoting of the results and work of the AOB staff. As the result, European and global visibility of the AOB activities and results has increased. A web site (belissima.aob.rs) made and maintained for the promotion of BELISSIMA, prominently linked to the AOB web page (www.aob.rs), will remain the Internet hub for future projects related to the BELISSIMA-built capacities. A special multimedia DVD together with a series of TV programmes and participation in various manifestations dedicated to promoting AOB/BELISSIMA and popularizing space and astronomical sciences in Serbia and WBC provide to the general public the opportunity to grasp the importance of astronomy and will contribute to public understanding of science.

Potential impact

The BELISSIMA project has emphasized scientific and human resources-based, rather than engineering and application-based, outcomes in that most of the efforts were spent generating basic scientific knowledge (both experimental and theoretical) needed for the advancement of astronomy and related sciences in the Western Balkans region. As such, this foreground is expected to be of benefit for a wide array of future studies in astronomy and related sciences, included space physics and atmospheric sciences, and will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Both major Work Packages (WPs) devoted to strengthening human resources of the AOB and the construction and purchase of the Milankovic telescope of the diameter of the main mirror of 1.40 m, in the final analysis, lead to tremendous improvement in both quantity and quality of research publication output of the AOB and thus Serbian and regional astronomy in general. The proceedings of the International BELISSIMA Conference held in Belgrade in September 2012, "Future Science With Metre-Class Telescopes", with 48 contributions, were published in the series of the well-known Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade as the 92nd book in the series (ISBN: 978-86-80019-61-1). It is available online at the Web site of BELISSIMA and also through AOB Web pages and are very useful to any interested researcher who wants to learn about the research activities of the AOB both in the past and in the future when the "Milankovic" telescope will unleash its full strength. The proceedings of the two BELISSIMA workshops printed on optical disks aptly complement the proceedings book, thus serving as a set of publications necessary for any researcher interested in future collaboration with the AOB.

The software necessary for efficient functioning of the Vidojevica Astronomical Station (VAS) thus far and in the immediate future, being part of the tangible foreground of BELISSIMA, will be based on the scientific results on the astroclimate and other relevant analyses, and will be made available for the observing astronomy sector. Those of our partners, individuals and institutions interested in the data to be obtained from the "Milankovic" telescope, will be free to use it without any intellectual property restrictions. We envision future web-based applications necessary for efficient use of the robotic telescope as free for use by any interested party (e.g., scientific or enterprise). An example of the software that can already be given at this stage, and is available at the AOB Web site is "Exposure Time Calculator" (http://exposure.aob.rs). The new pipeline Real-Time Photometry Server (RTPhoS) made by Dr. Milan Bogosavljevic and Dr. Zach Ioannou which is designed to process raw optical stellar images as they are being obtained by a local telescope, in the case of the AOB, the "Milankovic" telescope, and broadcast the derived measurements in real-time is now in the phase of testing and will be publicly available as soon as the testing is completed.

Progress has been made in BELISSIMA towards implementing fully remote observational capacities, most notably an online method. This development facilitates the implementation of a wide spectrum of observational programs at astronomy institutions such as the Rozhen Observatory in Bulgaria and others. The scope of programs and plans for implementation of such projects has been formulated and published so far within the proceedings of the conference and workshops realized within the BELISSIMA framework. The successful installation of the "Milankovic" telescope provided a detailed set of results on testing the performances of the new instrument and will be published in a high-impact scientific journal. The excellent seeing conditions at the VAS (the seeing is comparable to that in Chile, approximately 0.7 arc seconds) together with the excellent mechanics and optics of the telescope will guarantee successful observational campaigns which will be of interest to the astronomical community worldwide.

The successful realization of two main tasks of the BELISSIMA project, construction and purchase of the "Milankovic" telescope and the hiring of experienced researchers at the AOB, enables a big step forward in training of observational astronomers in Serbia and the region. Successful collaboration between the AOB and both (i) institutions of higher education and (ii) associations of amateur astronomers have already tremendously improved quality of training in observational aspects of astronomy and related sciences. In particular, this applies to younger students who have not had the opportunity to acquire such skills previously (due to prolonged periods of political and economic instabilities). It is to be expected that such a trend will continue and increase in terms of depth and quality in the foreseeable future. Since the training activities are one of the most important aspects of the BELISSIMA project and the AOB in general, the Management board of BELISSIMA performed them simultaneously with other important activities (such as design of the telescope and writing of the technical documentation for the "Milankovic" telescope) which were taking place. Thus, for the training purposes the 60 cm telescope mounted in 2011 at the VAS has been used, which in combination with practical work on the various aspects of installation procedures, enabled the staff of the AOB to train astronomical observing and related tasks. Three experienced researchers that were hired, which in collaboration with seven new young researcher students supported by Ministry of Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (MSTDRS) (now Ministry of Education, Science and the Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, MESTDRS) hired by the AOB through research projects for the cycle 2011-2016 (note the overlap with the duration of the BELISSIMA project) provided an excellent opportunity to raise the level of research activities at the AOB. It should be noted that whenever possible the Management board of BELISSIMA tried to improve the training of AOB staff through international collaborations and therefore several working visits to various European observatories and institutes were organized during the duration of the project (Orliakas, Piszkesteto, Dornburg, Tenerife, La Palma, Malaga, Garching, Potsdam, NEON Observing School).

Main dissemination activities and the exploitation of results

The plan of dissemination of foreground combined top-down and bottom-up approaches. Together with our partners we have conducted the appropriate activities on the local, national, regional and international levels, along this path:

1) organization of the big international BELISSIMA conference in September 2012 in Belgrade that gathered approximately 100 participants -- after the conference the book of the proceedings was printed and widely distributed;

2) organization of two BELISSIMA workshops: the first with 50 participants was organized in an early phase of BELISSIMA (in 2011, in Belgrade) and the final, second, with 40 participants at the VAS after the successful mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope (in June 2016, at Vidojevica). Both meetings served for the presentation of the work of the AOB and the discussion of the possibilities of the new telescope and future projects and collaborations;

3) making presentations at a meeting held by another network, e.g., by practitioners or European agencies and also making presentations at various public events, such as Festival of Science, the AOB Exhibition dedicated to its 125th anniversary etc.;

4) making contacts with several potentially interested parties and actors whenever possible; and

5) making contacts with the media aimed at increasing awareness and maximising the societal impact of the new research capacities.

Promotional material has been produced to aid the personnel of the AOB in these tasks:

1) The website of BELISSIMA was launched at http://belissima.aob.rs at the very beginning of the project and was continuously updated: the website continues and will continue to follow the usage of observing equipment whose acquisition was enabled by BELISSIMA after the end of the project. The website presented all the important information about BELISSIMA: organization of various meetings, important visits, important publishing activities, etc. It contains both archival material, as well as continuously updated news about all developments related to BELISSIMA and the VAS.

2) The brochure (in both Serbian and English) about the AOB and its scientific research, with special emphasis on BELISSIMA-related activities has been printed as a handout at meetings, in contacts with interested parties and for media and general dissemination. Both general public and experts found it useful and the reception has been excellent so far.

3) The multimedia DVD containing important data on the AOB and BELISSIMA in easily accessible video, audio, photo and text formats. Among other materials, the DVD contains four episodes of the BELISSIMA TV programme and photo gallery of the AOB exhibition (to celebrate its 125th anniversary) organized in 2012 in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, where the BELISSIMA project played a significant role. The disk was widely distributed and the reception was excellent.

4) Six BELISSIMA TV programmes have been produced in which the work of the AOB is presented with an emphasis on the BELISSIMA project and its results. The participation of numerous Serbian and foreign experts provided the opportunity to discuss the already existing collaborations and the future work based on the use of the "Milankovic" telescope. The TV episodes were widely distributed (both on the Internet and to the TV stations) and provide the opportunity to the interested public to learn more about the cutting-edge research performed in astronomy/astrophysics today in Serbia and elsewhere.

The abovementioned material was distributed at the meetings organized by BELISSIMA and also at various other scientific meetings (such as the National Conference of the Astronomers of Serbia in 2014) to researchers, but also on the occasions of visits of students and pupil to the AOB in Belgrade. Both groups appreciated the promotional material and found it useful.

Contacts have been made with a wide variety of entities: the contacts were made with governmental agencies and other institutes in Serbia and the region to present the concept of BELISSIMA (i.e., a top-down approach), whereas some number of contacts have been made at foundations and private enterprises as well (a bottom-up approach). We consider the first phase of the dissemination -- i.e., the first contacts -- to be a success and note that most, if not all, recipients expressed genuine interest in our development and in the general knowledge of the field of astronomy and related sciences. During the whole duration of BELISSIMA, the relevant details about the progress were being provided to them and the successful mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope was especially important because of its significance for the future of scientific research in Serbia.

In the future, the envisioned information activities will proceed as follows:

1) Summer schools and meetings at the AOB and VAS site itself, as excellent opportunities to reach the next generation of astronomy practitioners in the region and Europe in general. The AOB has already been a host to numerous both national and international meetings and the second and final workshop at Vidojevica showed that this can be done with success in the vicinity of the new "Milankovic" telescope and that the participants find this stimulating. There is significant interest in hosting more similar events in the near future.

2) Presentations/visits at other entities: we will strive to raise interest and awareness by practitioners through their own organizations and meetings, while emphasizing the long-term benefits created by successful realization of the BELISSIMA goals and inspiration it offered to other potential applicants, especially within the Horizon 2020 project cycles.

3) Presentations at scientific meetings: the more advanced concepts within observational astronomy with 1.50 m-class telescopes and relevant optical and software technologies can be exchanges with the high-level practitioners (e.g., senior observational astronomers, instrument builders, scientific software developers) at events of this sort within the ERA.

4) Outreach through frequent contacts with large and small entities within the field of astronomy, related sciences, media, and technology. We will use these contacts to raise interest in the upcoming presentations and demonstrations, with the fully operational "Milankovic" telescope, as well as to the ways astronomy and related sciences are useful in the context of the modern European societies.

5) We also aim to involve primarily the enterprises within Serbia to embed the foreground in a more commercial context with the increased understanding and awareness of the robotic telescopes technology and its multiple usages.

The synthesis of the four aforementioned pillars of BELISSIMA foreground (given in Potential impact section above: science, software, technology, and training) is a viable package to present to putative future collaborators, researchers and science policy-makers as different types of end users. We aim to design a time- (i.e. cost-) efficient usage of the observing resources, to be adapted by collaborative research projects on many different levels in Europe. This especially pertains to future research projects within the Horizon 2020 framework. The added value of BELISSIMA to astronomy and related science research, in terms of more extensive and higher-quality gathering and analysis of observational data, as well as creating a hub of educational, training and public outreach activities, has potential to build a lasting positive effects both within scientific community of southeastern Europe and the wider society.

As far as awareness and societal implications of the BELISSIMA project are concerned, there is no doubt that the original goals of the project have been satisfactorily fulfilled, and that important additional results have been achieved thus far. As is usually the case in such situation, some of these activities and results could not be foreseen in the time of writing of the original proposal. In addition, some of the activities related to the goals achieved are likely to continue and persist after the completion of BELISSIMA. In the following, some of the relevant points will be discussed, necessarily briefly, since

1) the amount of material related to specific instances of interaction of BELISSIMA-related science and wider society is large,

2) some of the relevant data is contained in the additional materials submitted together with this report (which present various BELISSIMA publications and activities), and

3) this topic is specific since its full ramifications can only be recognized at timescales longer than the present reporting period and longer than the usual project cycles. The last point is particularly salient when the rather slow pace of societal changes in Serbian transitional environment is taken into account. It is important to keep in mind that Serbia is in the midst of significant transformations in the areas of higher education and research, with new forms of organization and networking emerging, and some of the older institutions being restructured, with unforeseeable consequences.

First of all, the increased visibility of astronomy and related sciences in Serbia, which has followed the unfolding of the project in the 2010-2016 period (including the preparatory period), has been manifested in an increased number of astronomy-related events and media presentations. According to an informal poll conducted recently by the Center for the Promotion of Science in Belgrade in 2013 more than 25 per cent of all promotional and popular-science activities undertaken in 2011-2013 period have been either entirely or partially devoted to astronomy and related sciences (both including traditional related disciplines like geodesy or atmospheric science, as well as new cross-disciplinary fields such astrochemistry and astrobiology). While it is not possible to firmly establish to what degree the successful unfolding of BELISSIMA contributed to this trend (this would require a detailed and prolonged study), there is no doubt for anyone involved in the promotion and popularization of science in Serbia that its contribution is quite pronounced and includes various publications, production of TV programmes, creation and maintenance of several Web sites (main BELISSIMA site, but also the sites dedicated to the BELISSIMA meetings and the VAS), participation in the public events, etc. In numerous contacts, the members of the Management board of the BELISSIMA project received confirmations and encouragement vis-a-vis the role of the project in fostering public outreach activities in Serbia and the region. Some of the activities realized in the course of the project have received attention far beyond the original plans and the scale of activities and examples in this sense include the collaboration with the Petnica Research Center or the Festival of Science.

Secondly, the awareness of the importance and wider implications of astronomy and related sciences in the governmental and policy-making circles has been increased by activities of BELISSIMA. The pre-BELISSIMA level of awareness in the policy-making circles has been quite unsatisfactory, as testified, among other things, by the difficulties encountered in realization of the preparatory works at the VAS. This situation has undoubtedly been improved through concerted actions related to BELISSIMA, and manifested, among other things, in more active participation of Serbia in the Program Committee and the NCP network for the thematic area of space since 2011. The appointment of NCP for the space thematic area has been the first appointment of this kind in Serbia and the very first official recognition of the importance of this thematic area for the Serbian society and its processes of European integration. Since 2014 by the appointment of the MESTDRS the position of the NCP for space is held by Mr. Milan Stojanovic, member of the AOB staff and the participant of the BELISSIMA project, which greatly contributed to the successful presentation of the AOB and the BELISSIMA project both in Serbia and abroad. In addition, the unfortunately prolonged tender procedure for the purchase of the 1.40 m telescope has offered some opportunities for the issues and concerns of astronomy-related institutions to be heard in the policy-making circles. Some non-governmental organizations, such as the Educational Forum of Belgrade and the Petnica Science Center, have also both expressed interest for various aspects of BELISSIMA, but also explicated the interest for putting collaboration with the AOB and the astronomical community of Serbia on firmer long-term footing.

Thirdly, the setup created for interaction with the media, including printed media, electronic media, blogs and social networks, has been instrumental in creating a wider societal awareness and might be used for extension of the promotional activities undertaken so far. It gradually becomes possible to expect not only occasional astronomical phenomena of interest (such as the bright meteor observed in the atmosphere over Serbia in November 2010), but a more persistent interest in all aspects of the scientific endeavor related to astronomy and its interaction with technology, industry, and society in general. The continuous coverage of the relevant topics in both professional and amateur astronomy will enable not only creating new human resources in the media itself, but encourage further engagement with both research and capacity-building projects within the scope of the thematic area of space. With the advent of new observational capacities enabled through the BELISSIMA project, it is to be hoped that this trend will continue and that future capacity building and research projects will maintain and increase the presence of astronomy-related content in the media sphere.

With the successful mounting of the "Milankovic" telescope in May 2016 and the second workshop held in June 2016 the presence of the AOB and the BELISSIMA project in the all media has increased significantly and the information about the importance of the new instrument for the science in Serbia and the WBC region is being broadcast on a regular basis. This has led to a numerous important activities, such as the visit of the Minister from the MESTDRS to Vidojevica in August 2016 which inevitably means the stronger presence of the AOB, the BELISSIMA project and astronomy in the most important media outlets in Serbia.

As far as societal impact of the BELISSIMA project goes, it is difficult, of course, to assess it on a short-term basis, but some indications can already be given at the present stage. The project has been realized in the period of wider societal turmoil and reassessment of the predominant mores and social values. Upon this background, there have been significant efforts to reappraise the importance and role of science in modern, democratic society toward which Serbia and other Western Balkans countries wish to evolve. While the tempo and mode of this process have been very heterogeneous, some important central concepts have been gradually adopted in the societal context in striving for better understanding and efficiency of the European-integrative process. Those include the knowledge-based society, the pervasive influence of modern information and communication technologies, lifelong learning, adapting continuously to changed opportunities, work practices, and business models, as well as the key role of scientific innovation in generating values. In particular, it has been gradually adopted that focus areas such as education, health care, agriculture, or governance need much more knowledge-based products and applications of key scientific insights. While there has been several changes in specific policies regarding education and science in Serbia in the course of last 6 years (in which the period of the realization of BELISSIMA was embedded), a common strand has been the increased attention devoted to dissemination, promotion and popularization of science. Among other things, the above mentioned Center for the Promotion of Science has been established with the help of the European Investment Bank, which has been a milestone in the organized work on public outreach in science. The number of science fairs, festivals and similar public events has also dramatically increased and, while still below the European Union standards, offers a new vista of cross-cultural activities likely to bolster the status of science in general and astronomy in particular in the society. The production of popular scientific programs on radio, television, and web-based media has increased, and so is the number of researchers taking part in them on a regular or occasional basis: the BELISSIMA TV programme and the collaboration with the Serbian Scientific Television and LinkEDU Television are just one example. Even in the media circles themselves, there is a growing trend of educating professional journalists for working on the science reporting and public outreach. While an extensive sociological study would be necessary in order to precisely assess all phenomenological aspects of this increased presence of science in society, it seems certain that there are significant indications of the increased societal impact of BELISSIMA, as well as other recent EC-funded projects in Serbia.

As far as the future prospects are concerned, there remains much to be done in order to achieve much larger levels of awareness and the societal impact in Serbia and the region. Institutional support is still lacking in terms of both financial and human capital, and there are important weaknesses on side of both research institutions on one hand, and media, policy-makers and other relevant societal components, on the other. The major weakness is persistently low level of scientific literacy, combined with rather modest interest of major media groups and cartels in promoting and popularization of science and technology. This is coupled with the destructive presence of many pseudosciences in the media and local social life. Those weaknesses obstruct further growth of awareness and better integration of astronomy and related sciences into the wider flow of technological, economical, and cultural changes occurring in Serbia and the region of the Western Balkans. Overcoming such weaknesses must be one of the major goals of all future projects, especially those conducted within the framework of Horizon 2020, which are made possible by successful completion of BELISSIMA activities. One of the basic goals for the foreseeable future remains maintaining the media and public outreach infrastructure set by the activities within the BELISSIMA thus far, and increase the general level of engagement with both new projects and dedicated dissemination, promotion, and popularization activities within them. The fight for the true knowledge-based society remains the key component of all our present and future activities and planning.

List of Websites:
http://belissima.aob.rs
Contact: Dr Srdjan Samurovic <srdjan@aob.bg.ac.rs>

Related information

Documents and Publications

Contact

Srdjan Samurovic, (Associate Research Professor)
Tel.: +381 11 3089074
Fax: +381 11 2419553
E-mail
Record Number: 191848 / Last updated on: 2016-11-15