Tartu Observatory celebrated Finland’s 100th birthday

Kairi Janson | 6.12.2017

The Finns have always been great partners and examples for Tartu Observatory: this is why we were happy to celebrate our northern neighbours’ 100th birthday last week. We took a group photo with our Finnish colleagues and held a seminar by telling Finland-related stories. One of them, for example, was about how the Finnish TV made one of our researchers interested in technology in the first place.

soome 100

“We have never celebrated a country’s birthday like this before but this time it felt very important,” said Tiia Lillemaa, Projects Coordinator of Tartu Observatory. Besides the fact that many Finns work at the observatory, many of our researchers’ first international partners were from Finland and thereby were the foundation on the network they have now.

After taking a group photo with our Finnish colleagues and eating delicious birthday pretzel, we held an afternoon seminar as suitable for a research institute. First, Tõnu viik, Scientific Advisor of the Stellar Physics Department talked about Finnish history and both the differences and similarities we have with them. Many researchers shared their stories related to our overseas neighbours. Director Anu Reinart talked about the role Finnish colleagues have played in her career, then passed the baton to another colleague who also told a story, and so on.

One researcher, for example, said that Finnish TV broadcasts were one of the reasons he got interested in technology in the first place. Finnish television could be seen in the northern part of what was then Soviet Estonia. Because the TV at the researcher’s home had no sound, he and his father had to construct a sound module. Then, when the time of colour TVs came, they built a colour module and so the passion for technology kept growing.

One of the researchers earned money for her [K2] first laptop picking strawberries in Finland. Every day for two months she had to wake up at four a.m. and could get back home to rest at noon. It must have felt really good to get to hold the computer in her hands after such a summer of hard work.

Older colleagues had countless stories to tell. For example, stories about the visit of Finnish president Urho Kaleva Kekkonen’s visit to Estonia in 1964 were told: it was a very important event back then because Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. Someone recalled how Zonta clubs were first founded in Estonia and they had been to the Heureka science centre in Helsinki with the Zonta women. Tõnu Viik advised the Finns to come up with an idea for a monument to the creator of sauna.

“That way many of the people of the observatory could tell a story connected to Finland and brought this country closer to us,” Lillemaa said. She thinks that from Finnish people we could learn how to be more open, helpful, and consistent.

Right now, Tartu Observatory has good long-term relationships with many Finnish research institutes, for example Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and the Finnish Environment Institute. There is a lot of co-operation between the astronomers and cosmologists from Tartu and Tuorla observatories. Every year, they hold seminars together and one part of the seminars always has to be a football match.

Happy birthday Finland!