Mankind has always been captivated by the blue sky with the regular movement of the Sun, as well as the abyss of darkness with thousands of twinkling stars, wandering planets and the changing shape of the Moon. Admiration and human curiosity have often been intertwined with the fear of ignorance. However, the regularity of celestial phenomena allowed the more inquisitive individuals to make simple predictions that helped in everyday activities and organized life in short or longer periods. The ability to find the target was essential during long expeditions, and tracking the position of the sun and stars was helpful in determining its direction. The chosen ones with this ability were the first astronomers. Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences. It has accompanied mankind since the dawn of time, being the "engine" of scientific and technological evolution, from millennia to the present day.
In Poland, the intensive development of astronomy took place at the beginning of the 15th century, when an elite chair of mathematics and astronomy was established at the University of Krakow. Young Nicolaus Copernicus came into contact with Cracow's Alma Mater in 1491, starting his own studies here. Undoubtedly, his heliocentric theory was inspired by the local astronomy. Since the times of the greatest Polish astronomer, knowledge about the Universe began to develop very quickly. The theory of the motion of the Earth and planets found its proper expression in Kepler's laws, and its culmination was Newton's formulation of the universal law of gravitation.
The 20th century brought another scientific and technical revolution and a new look at the Universe around us. Today, we study it not only with the help of terrestrial and orbital telescopes that receive electromagnetic waves, particle detectors or by sending complex robots to other bodies of the Solar System. We can also explore the Cosmos through gravitational waves. However, we are still aware that despite our great knowledge and capabilities, the Universe still hides many puzzles and mysteries waiting for us to be explained, e.g. to this day we do not know what dark matter and dark energy are.
Researchers at the Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University study the bodies of the Solar System, stars at various stages of their life, magnetic fields and dispersed matter in our Milky Way and other galaxies, black holes, accretion disks, distant quasars, gamma-ray bursts, the formation of large-scale structures and the evolution of the Universe. They conduct their observations using most powerful telescopes, including LOFAR (radio waves), SALT (optical), or H.E.S.S. (gamma).
Heaven is for everyone, and anyone who looks at it can admire its beauty. However, astrophysical knowledge is essential to understand the Universe. Those who have already been infected with the passion of discovering the mysteries of the Cosmos are invited to study at the Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University in the 1st and 2nd degree studies.
People who would like to get to know us, are invited to participate in open popularizing astronomy projects. They are the very popular Evenings with stars at OAUJ, Night under the Stars at OAUJ, Lesser Poland Researcher’s Nights, the Astrolabium Competition, and many others.
A new organization of astronomy studies was introduced since the 644 academic year (2007/2008). The studies are currently divided into three stages:
- Bachelor's degree, three-year studies
- Second-cycle studies completed with a master's degree, two-year studies
- Four-year doctoral school - PhD degree