Department of Astronomy

The beginning of higher university-like education in Serbia can be traced down to 1838, when the "Licej" (a kind of advanced secondary school) was founded in Kragujevac. The "Licej" was separated from the "Gimnazija" in 1839 and transferred to Belgrade in 1841. Judging by the content of the textbooks, elements of astronomy were lectured at the "Licej". The traces of "physical" astronomy in its curricula can be found in the academic year 1854/55. The law of 1863, regulating the transformation of the "Licej" into the Grand School (a forerunner of the University), did not include teaching astronomy. This was corrected by the 1880 law on changes and annexes, which stipulated the astronomy to be taught together with meteorology. Nevertheless, lectures did not start until 1884 when Milan Nedeljković was elected suplent (supplementary lecturer) for these courses. He became a professor of the Grand School in 1886, the first director of the Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory in 1887 and an associate professor of the University after its foundation in 1905 (according to the new ranking). Professor Nedeljković's career was interrupted for one year, when the director and professor was Djordje Stanojević (1899/1900). When the University was founded, the Chair of Astronomy and Meteorology remained within the Faculty of Philosophy. If the year 1880 is taken to mark its foundation, the year 1924 marks the next step: separation of meteorology from astronomy. A great advance took place when Milutin Milanković was elected professor of the University of Belgrade in 1909. He taught subjects related to applied mathematics and remained a professor for more than four decades. He became the most famous Serbian astronomer of the XX century. His best works concern the theory of climate. Vojislav Mišković, who got his Ph.D. in stellar astronomy in France, became professor of the University of Belgrade in 1925. The new regulations of the Faculty of Philosophy introduced in 1925, for the first time treated astronomy as a separate teaching subject. The final educational scheme established a separate study group for astronomy in 1927. Mišković was also appointed director of the new Astronomical Observatory of the University of Belgrade which has grown into a modern institution under his supervision. The Observatory started working on its present location in 1932. The best of Mišković's later research was related to minor planets. After the foundation of the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences within the frames of the University of Belgrade in 1947, the Chair of Celestial Mechanics and Astronomy was formed. After a short while, it changed the name into the Chair of Mechanics and Astronomy. The process of separation into chairs of Mechanics and of Astronomy started in 1960 and ended in 1962; therefore, this period can be taken as the time when a separate Chair of Astronomy is mentioned for the first time. The first Head of the new Chair of Astronomy, from 1964 to 1979, was Branislav Ševarlić. Following the reorganization of the Faculty of Sciences, the Chair of Astronomy became the Institute of Astronomy in 1971 and then the Department of Astronomy in 1995. It remained within the Faculty of Mathematics in the process of the latest reorganization. The University of Belgrade was and still is the only one in Yugoslavia with a Department of Astronomy. Astrophysics was introduced as an obligatory course at the Chair of Astronomy in 1958. It has developed into several courses since. Important changes in curricula were introduced in 1961 when two separate study groups were formed: Astronomy and Astrophysics. The Department of Astronomy has an output of 198 graduate students, 49 M.Sc. and 25 Ph.D degrees, up to 2002 inclusive. The first astronomy student graduated in 1936, the first M.Sc. degree was obtained in 1968 and the first Ph.D. degree in 1958.

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