DEPARTMENT OF ASTRONOMY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE
The University of Beograd is the only University in Yugoslavia with a Department of Astronomy.
The begining of the university education in Serbia can be traced up to 1838, when "Licej" was founded in Kragujevac.
Licej separated from "Gimnazija" in 1839 and was transfered to Belgrade in 1841.
Judging by the content of the textbooks elements of astronomy were lectured at the Licej.
The first traces of teaching "physical" astronomy in the plans of Licej can be found for the year 1854/55.
The law about transformation of the Licej into the Grand School, from 1863, did not include teaching of astronomy.
This was corrected by the law on changes and additions from 1880, where it was regulated that astronomy was to be taught although together with meteorology.
Therefore, 1880 is assumed to mark the foundation of the Cathedra of Astronomy in Belgrade, although jointly with meteorology, untill 1924.
It was within the Department of Sciences and Mathematics till 1896, when teaching of sciences splitted.
From 1896 till 1905 it was within the Department of Physics and Mathematics.
When the University was founded in 1905, the Cathedra of Astronomy and Meteorology was incorporeted within the Philosophical Faculty.
The lectures started in 1884, when Milan Nedeljković was elected to be the "suplent" - lecturer for astronomy and meteorology.
He became a professor in 1886, and taught astronomy (except in 1899-1900) till 1924, when he was asked to retire.
At the turn of the century the professor of astronomy was Djordje Stanojević.
The Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory founded in Belgrade, in 1887, was connected with the Cathedra (and University) till 1948.
The directors of the Astronomical Observatory were professors of the Cathedra.
At the beginning it was more occupied with meteorological measurements.
The division into two observatories -- Astronomical and the Meteorological -- officially occured in 1924.
Milan Nedeljković procured a large collection of instruments, especially astronomical ones, using the funds due to the First World War reparation.
Vojislav Mišković who became the professor of the University of Beograd in 1925, was appointed as the director of the Astronomical observatory in Belgrade, supervised works on the new buildings (finished in 1932), and organized its work.
He retired in 1962.
A great advance in the theoretical scientific work occured when Milutin Milanković was elected to be the professor of the University of Belgrade in 1909.
He became the most famous serbian astronomer of the XX century.
His best works concern the theory of climate and the celestial mechanics.
He stayed a professor untill retirement in 1955.
The new regulation of the Philosophical Faculty introduced in 1925 for the first time treats astronomy as a separate teaching subject.
The final educational sheme in 1927 established a separate study group for astronomy.
It was named the III group of sciences and contained: Practical and Theoretical Astronomy; Celestial Mechanics, Theoretical Mathematics, Rational Mechanics, Physics and Meteorology.
Professor Mišković was nominated to teach the first subject.
After the foundation of the Faculty of Sciences in 1947, the Cathedra of Celestial Mechanics and Astronomy was formed.
Soon it changed the name into the Cathedra of Mechanics and Astronomy.
The separation started in 1960 and ended in 1962; therefore this period can be taken as the time when an independent Chair of Astronomy is mentioned for the first time.
Following the reorganization of the Faculty of Sciences, the Chair of Astronomy became the Institute of Astronomy in 1971 and the Chair (Department) of Astronomy again in 1995.
Within the last change it stayed within the Mathematical Faculty.
Astrophysics was introduced for the firt time as an obligatory course at the Cathedra of Astronomy in 1958.
Since then it developed into several courses.
Important changes in teaching plans were introduced in the academic year 1961/1962 when two separate study groups were formed: astrophysical and astronomical one.
The postgraduate studies started in 1966.
The staff of the Chair increased considerably during the last four decades.
The average number has risen from two in early fifties to six in early sixties and reached ten in the late seventies.
The field of research has broadened from classical astrometrical subjects to more modern ones: Motion of Artificial Earth Satelites, Earth Rotation, Motion of Asteroids, Stellar Systems.
Several astrophysical subjects were introduced: Radio Astronomy, Solar Astrophysics, Stellar Structure and Evolution.
Although Radio Astronomy started as an observational subject due to building of the two-element interferometer for the observation of the Sun by Ivan Atanasijevic, it changed later into a semi theoretical research in the field of Galactic Radio Astronomy.
In general, majority of research developed in theoretical direction, due to computers and not sufficiently modernized local observational basis.
In this direction most of the Ph.D. theseses, obtained either in Beograd or abroad, were done.
Good international collaboration in astronomy was developed with Czechoslovakia, France and Hungary, during seventies and eighties.
Within the last three decades the staff almost completely changed.
Several members left, either retiring or getting jobs elsewhere.
At the present time the Department of Astronomy has eleven full time and two part time (one from the Astronomical Observatory an the other from the Department of Mechanics) members of staff,
teaching fifteen astronomical courses: General Astronomy, General Astrophysics, Processing of Astronomical Data, for both groups; Theoretical Astrophysics, Practical Astrophysics, Stellar Structure and Evolution, Stellar Astronomy,
Radio Astronomy, Teaching and History of Astronomy for students of the astrophysical branch; Theoretical Astronomy, Practical Astronomy, Positional Astronomy, Celestial Mechanics and Theory of the Motion of Artificial Earth Satellites,
Ephemerical Astronomy, Stellar Systems, for students of the astronomical branch.
The names of the present members of staff and the allocation of subjects can be found in the separate part of the presentation.
Many of these courses got their present shape due to professors who left the Department of Astronomy due to retirements,
e.g.: Zaharije Brkić, Branislav ševarlić, Jovan Simovljević, Jovan Lazović and Mirjana Vukićević-Karabin.
Out of 29 published in Serbian textbooks and auxiliary books, known to be used in teaching of astronomy on the higher level, 17 were written by the professors of the Department (Cathedra, Chair) of Astronomy.
Eihgt textbooks were translated fully and one partially.
Some early texts have been lost as manuscripts.
Some textbooks written recently are waiting for publication.
Practically all professors contributed to the development of the Department of Astronomy by organizational work.
Many of them were chiefs of the Department, one was a dean and four were vicedeans.
The Department of Astronomy was publishing since 1969 "The Publications of the Department of Astronomy".
After 18 issues (21 years) it merged with the "Bulletin Astronomique de Belgrade", which changed the title into "Serbian Astronomical Journal" in 1998.
Although the Astronomical Observatory in Belgrade is not in an administrative way connected with University nowadays, there is a wide collaboration in teaching (practical subjects during the undergraduate studies
and specialized subjects at the postgraduate studies) and scientific research.
Part of the practical exercises is done in the Public Observatory and the Planetarium of the Astronomical Society "Rudjer Bošković" in Beograd.
The Chair (Department) of Astronomy organized observations of both total solar eclipses seen from Yugoslavia (1961, 1999) for professors and students.
Majority of the professors are the members of the IAU and its Commissions.
Many of them were the members of the National Committee for Astronomy.
Some professors were very active in popularization of astronomy either in the mentioned Society or at other public places.
Three of them won the prize of the Kolarčev Public University for popularization of sciences.
The familly of the late professor Zaharije Brkić has established a fund for the best student graduated within the previous academic year.
Forteen studets were awarded since its introduction in 1981.
Starting from the foundation of the Chair of Astronomy in 1880, 38 persons were engaged for undergraduate studies, part or full time.
The Chair of Astronomy educated 171 graduated students, 37 candidates leaded to M.Sc. and 23 to Ph.D degrees.
The first astronomy student graduated in 1936, the first M.Sc. degree was obtained in 1968 and the first Ph.D. degree in 1958.
Within the last three decades the staff almost completely changed.
Several members left either retiring or getting jobs elsewhere.
Chronologically they were: Ivan Atanasijević, Vasilije Oskanjan, Zaharije Brkić, Branislav Ševarlić, Milivoje Rakić,
Milan Vuletić, Jovan Simovljević, Jovan Lazović, Mirjana Vukićević-Karabin, Jovan Skuljan, Predrag Punoševac and Zlatko Ćatović.