The widespread dissemination of an education in astronomy is one goal of your association. What originally drew you to astronomy?
In the GDR, astronomy was offered as a school subject. First, in the final year of middle-school as a high-school exam prep-course and then as an elective in the 10th grade. Visits to the observatory in Treptower Park were part of the curriculum when I was still a student. In 1968, I first came in direct contact with that place and the people that ran it, and their exceptionally good telescopes, such as the so-called “Astrograph.” I was lucky enough at that point to have everything explained to me as a beginner.
On October 3, 1990, German Reunification took place, and the GDR, whose cultural institutions included the Archenhold Observatory, ceased to exist. Only shortly thereafter, on November 27, 1990, your association was founded. How did this quick reaction to the change in political circumstances come about?
The events of that time were very dynamic. A spirit of optimism and the awareness of preserving what had been accomplished there, for both humanistic and scientific reasons, moved us to take this step. The “us” in this case: the astronomy enthusiasts, observers, members of working groups and freelancers in the group. A ‘free’ culture for organizing a co-operation, or making an association, did not exist in the GDR. We entered new territory, but we could learn from the earlier history of the observatory, whose work was already supported through co-operatives. The management of the observatory supported us and thus we were able to act without major barriers.
There’s even an “Archenhold lunar crater” instigated by your association, is there not?
In 1989, Günter Archenhold already expressed the idea to name a lunar crater “Archenhold” in honor of his father Simon Friedrich Archenhold. Günter had observed the lunar crater for the first time on March 15, 1932 with the observatory’s large refractor telescope. On the initiative of board member Konrad Guhl, we would now like to continue the tradition of naming objects on the Moon, which experienced its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2006, with the support of numerous experts, we submitted an application to the International Astronomical Union in Paris. The process is not yet complete—some things take time.