Date sent: Mon, 02 Mar 1998 09:03:19 -0500 (EST)
From: Benny J Peiser
Priority: NORMAL



From: Andrej G.Sokolsky"
Director of Institute of Theoretical Astronomy of the
Russian Academy of Science

Date: 27.02.98

Dear Colleagues

As you probably know, a reform of science is now in progress in
this country. One of its aims, if not the most important, is to
reduce the expenditures for science. This task is solved in the
way peculiar to the state bureaucracy, that is, by reducing all
to the same level, without taking into account the consequences
of their actions. One of the probable victims of such policy is
the ITA. There are plain evidences that the staff of the
Institute will be substantially reduced, whereupon the Institute
will be amalgamated with one of the other astronomical institutes
in St.Petersburg, probably with the Institute of Applied
Astronomy (in fact, radio astronomy institute in VLBI field). In
any case it means substantial loss for those researches which are
now conducted in ITA. Espessially in the fields of Celestial
Mechanics and Ephemeridial Astronomy (in particular monitoring of
NEOs in our Krimean division - the director of IPA wants to
refuse from this problem as not the main problem for IPA). I am
not sure that the publication of Ephemerides of Minor Planets
will be continue on the necessary level. And so on.

Clearly defined estimation of ITA's contribution to
specific aries of science and support of its subsequent activity
are very important for us in this connection. A number of our
colleagues (copies of some letters are given in supplement) have
applied to the authorities of the Russian Academy of Sciences
with letters of supporting ITA.

If you divide opinion about desirability of continuation of
ITA's activity I kindly ask you to send expression of your
opinion by FAX at the address of the President of Russian Academy
of Sciences academician Yu. Osipov (+7-095-954-3320) and the
address of Chief of Department of General Phisics and Astronomy
of RAS academician A.Bojarchuk (+7-095-938-1714). Your assistance
will be of great importance for us (please, do not forget to
indicate your official position, and position in IAU and to
discribe our joint works during many last years).

If it is possible please send me copy by e-mail or fax.

May be it possible to organize some others supports by known
celestial mechanicians (with good positions!).

I look forward to your help.
With kind personal regards

Director of Institute of
Theoretical Astronomy of RAS Andrej G. Sokolsky



Dear Academician Yurij Osipov,
It has come to my attention that the world-renowned Institute
for Theoretical Astronomy will be losing its identity by being absorbed
in the Institute for Applied Astronomy.
I am a retired celestial mechanician who was Editor-in-Chief
of the Journal "Celestial Mechanics" from 1985 to 1989 (since 1990 it
has been known as "Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy). I
also had the pleasure of visiting the Institute in 1970 when the
Institute sponsored a week-long symposium in celestial mechanics under
the aegis of
the International Astronomical Union. I received my Ph.D. in Astronomy
with a specialty in Celestial Mechanics in 1950 and thus have been in
close touch with the field for almost half a century. I mention these
facts so you will know what my credentials in the area are.
The Institute for Theoretical Astronomy has for its whole
existence had an outstanding reputation as one of the premier
international centers in the field of celestial mechanics, dynamical
astronomy and, in more recent years, space-related science. My former
professor, Dirk Brouwer, set up a Center for Celestial Mechanics at
Yale University which had close ties with all the centers of the world,
in particular, with the Institute for Theoretical Astronomy.
It is my sincere belief that the absorption of the Institute
in the Institute for Applied Astronomy would be a great misfortune. It
would remove one of the finest centers in the world from visibility and
the field, in my judgment, would greatly suffer.
The Institute for Theoretical Astronomy did a great deal of
important research in providing the basis for so much of the success of
the Space Effort, not only for the Former Soviet Union and Russia
today, but also for the great successes in my own country. Its role
can continue unhampered if it continues to exist in the strong
institution known as the Institute for Theoretical Astronomy, and
renowned the world over for its most important contributions to this
I urge you strongly to give the Institute for Theoretical
Astronomy the opportunity to continue to flourish and grow. It would
be a great benefit to your country, my country and the world.

Morris S. Davis
Morehead Professor of Astronomy (Emeritus)
University of North Carolina
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Phillips Hall CB #3255
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3255

Internet Address

Academician Yurij Osipov
President, Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Russia

Dear Academician Osipov:

I understand that there is a proposal to eliminate the Institute
for Theoretical Astronomy in St Petersburg as an autonomous institute
of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I have had contact with scientists
from the Institute for Theoretical Astronomy (ITA), from Pulkovo
Observatory (GAO), and from the Institute of Applied Astronomy (IPA)
over the past 30 years. My remarks do not pertain to any personnel in
particular, but rather to my perception of the concept and mission of
the three institutions.

Through collaborative efforts organized via the International
Astronomical Union (IAU) I have had opportunity to become acquainted
with the strengths and areas of expertise of each of the above-named
institutions. It would seem to me that the basic astronomical research
conducted at Pulkovo Observatory, coupled with the applied work in
astronomy and geodesy conducted at the Institute of Applied Astronomy
are both advanced by the theoretical investigations conducted at the
Institute for Theoretical Astronomy. In short, each of the three
institutions contributes to advancing our scientific knowledge and they
mesh nicely together in their areas of expertise.

The Institute for Theoretical Astronomy is known for its work with
minor planets and for its publication of their ephemerides, as well as
Russian almanacs. It also makes significant contributions to the
development of mathematical techniques in defining the motions of
planets and satellites. ITA also has played a significant role in the
past in development of computer algorithms for processing astronomical
observations as well as for generating ephemerides of astronomical

Since its organization by B.V. Numerov in 1919 as the Leningrad
Astronomical Institute, the Institute for Theoretical Astronomy has
played a significant role in assisting the development of scientific
investigations in astronomy at Pulkovo and in applied problems such as
geodesy at IPA.

I am certainly an outsider and not aware of all the pressures and
constraints on the Russian Academy with regard to the institute and its
personnel. From my perspective, however, it would seem that the three
institutes of GAO, ITA and IPA do form a cohesive whole whose overall
contributions might be diminished if ITA were absorbed by either of the
other two institutions.

Jay H. Lieske
Senior Research Scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California USA


Fri Feb 20 12:21:18 1998
From: Tom Gehrels
Subject: For Academician Yurij Osipov, President RAS

Dear Academician Osipov,

This e-mail letter is to ask your support for continued independent
existence of the Institute for Theoretical Astronomy, not to be
absorbed by the Institute of Applied Astronomy.

I am a senior astronomer in the field of studying comets and asteroids,
in which I have cooperated with ITA since 1957. In that year ITA
provided on short notice the essential ephemerides of Trojan asteroids
for a scientific expedition by Indiana University to South Africa
(Astron. J. 62, 244, 1957). We collaborated closely for establishment
of the new asteroid magnitude system for the International Astronomical
Union (Trans. I.A.U. 10, 305, 1958). We have kept the collaborations
active through following years, without interruption notwithstanding
turbulent times.

I fear that loss of ITA identity and independence may do great harm to
its successful programs in Ephemeris Astronomy, Theoretical Astronomy,
Celestial Mechanics, Stellar Dynamics, Space Geodesy, and in Physical
and Mathematical Geodesy.

In fact, the ITA scientists who are the representatives of these
scientific fields should be rewarded for their sustained excellence
over the years. Their view on this decision seems the most important
to be taken into account because they are among the very best in the

Please keep me posted on this important issue.

Sincerely yours,
Tom Gehrels

Mon Feb 23 11:28:09 1998
From: "Alan W. Harris"
Subject: Future of ITA

Dear Academician Osipov,

I have been informed by Victor Abalakin of the Pulkovo Observatory that
there is some consideration being given to eliminating the Institute
for Theoretical Astronomy by amalgamating it with the Institute of
Applied Astronomy. I am writing to express my opposition to such a
plan, as it would likely result in a reduction in support, or at least
in priority, given to the minor planet ephemeris work which is carried
out by the ITA, which is a very important and visible contribution to
the international astronomical community. I can further note that with
the tremendous increase in the rate of discovery and cataloging of
minor planets, the work of this institute is becoming greater and more
important, not less, with time. I urge you to do whatever is possible
to keep the ITA an independant institute with sufficient support to
carry out their essential works.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Harris
Past-President, IAU Comm. 15,
"Physical Studies of Comets, Minor Planets and Meteorites"


Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 16:24:45 -0500 (EST)

Subject: I.T.A.

Dear Academician Osipov,

I have learned recently of plans to abolish the Institute for
Theoretical Astronomy in St. Petersburg and to merge the staff
with that of the Institute for Applied Astronomy. I understand
the financial pressures under which you are operating but I wish to
express my concern about the future of certain activities needed
by the international astronomical community that are currently
carried out at the ITA.

The ITA divides with the Minor Planet Center located at the
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory the tasks of keeping track
of all the minor planets in our solar system. This division of
tasks has been maintained now for decades and these are the only
two insitutions in the world which do keep track of the orbits
and positions of the minor planets for the benefit of all other
astronomers. Any loss of these activities from the ITA will have
a great impact on astronomers worldwide since the Minor Planet
Center would be very hard pressed to pick up the portion of the
work now done at ITA.

I note also that the rate of discovery of minor planets is
steadily increasing, particularly through the efforts of organized
searches for Near-Earth objects which might eventually be
hazardous to Earth. Thus the type of acitivities carried out
at ITA are becoming more important as time goes on.

I urge you to consider carefully the impact on astronomy in
general of the closure or merger of ITA. Thank you very much for
your consideration.

Michael F. A'Hearn
President, IAU Division III
Planetary System Sciences

cc: Division III Executive Committee
J. Anderson, IAU General Secretary

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 14:18:17 +0100 (MET)
From: (Hans SCHOLL)
Subject: support letter
Lines: 62

Dear Andrej,

I send you a copy of my letter to Academician Osipov to support ITA.

Bon courage

Academician Yurij Osipov
President, Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Russia

Dear Academician Yurij Osipov:

It came to my attention to discontinue the world-renowned Institute for
Theoretical Astronomy in St. Petersburg.

Since 30 years, I have strong scientific ties with this institute,
first as a researcher at the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut in
Heidelberg, Germany under the directorship of late Prof. W. Fricke, a
foreign member of your Academy, then, more recentlyafter my move to
France by a cooperation program between the CNRS and the Russian
Academy of Sciences.
I was personally five times at ITA in the past for scientific

ITA has an outstanding reputation in Celestial Mechanics, Dynamical
Astronomy and Space Geodesy. Very famous are the Russian almanacs, the
ephemerides of minor planets and the development of theoretical models
for the motions of planets and satellites. Scientific members of ITA
have a very high international reputation for the quality of their
research. The Crimean division has as its member (Chernykh) one of the
leading world scientist in the discovery of small bodies of the solar

I know from my personal visits at ITA many of the for me terrible
problems which the Russian laboratories have encountered over the last
years and I know how difficult the every day life of Russian
researchers was and still is. I am also well aware of the necessity to
economize in research.

The disppearance, however, of the activities of the Crimean group and
dynamical astronomy would mean to make activities disappear where
Russian scientists belong to the world leaders.

I urge you strongly to give ITA the opportunity to continue its
essential activities where Russian scientists have gained an
outstanding reputation.

Hans Scholl

Directeur de Recherche au CNRS
Directeur Scientifique du Telescope de Schmidt
de l'Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur

Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur
BP 4229
06304 NICE CEDEX 4

Internet Address


CCCMENU CCC for 1998