The Skinakas Observatory has been built and operates as part of a scientific research collaboration between the University of Crete, the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics of Germany. (in charge of the Greek side is Professor J. Papamastorakis and of the German side Professor G. Haerendel) 

The site of the Observatory, chosen on scientific and functional grounds, is the Skinakas summit of Mount Ida (Psiloritis), at an altitude of 1750 m and 60 km from Heraklion. The favourable climatological conditions prevailing in Crete (large number of clear-sky nights per year) combined with the high mountains, place the island of Crete among the best locations in Europe for high quality astronomical observations. These facts were influential in the establishment of the Skinakas Observatory.

Skinakas Observatory

The Observatory has two telescopes: a Modified Ritchey Chretien telescope with a 1.3m aperture (focal ratio of F 7.6) and a 30cm telescope (focal ratio F 3.2). The building for the small telescope was built in 1986, and observations started in 1987. The large telescope is the largest telescope in Greece at the moment, and became operational in October 1995. The optical system was manufactured by Karl Zeiss, and the mechanical parts by DFM Engineering.

The instrumentation of the 1.3 Telescope includes:

  • A Focal Reducer which more than doubles the field of view of the telescope, allows low resolution spectroscopic measurements

  • Autoguider

  • Three CCD cameras: one with 1024x1024 pixels and two with 800x2000 pixels.

Under construction are:

  • A wide field near-infared camera

  • An Adaptive Optics system for the reduction of the atmospheric seeing

  • A high resolution (R=35000) Echelle Spectrograph.


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  1.3m Telescope

The main ongoing astronomical projects at the Observatory of Skinakas include the study of:

Optical studies of Galaxies and Active Galactic 

Structure of Spiral galaxies

Photometry of star clusters

Supernova remnants

Planetary nebulae

Optical identification of X-ray sources

  • RR Lyrae variable stars
  •  and supernova remnants
  • Binary systems where the compact object is either a White Dwarf, a Neutron star, or a Black Hole
  • Candidates and cataclysmic variables
  • Search for Novae in M31
  • Interaction of cometary tails with the solar wind

As science endeavour becomes more meaningful and rewarding when shared with the general public, Skinakas observatory offers a number of open days each year. In the hope that interested individuals and groups can all enjoy night visits, facilities can be visited from 17:00 to 23:00. to observe the sky above Crete, which has exceptionally good observing conditions compared to the rest of Europe.

Due to low temperatures at the Skinakas altitude, warm clothes are highly recommended


Skinakas Observatory
Tel.: +30 2810 394200 & 391300, Fax: +30 2810 394201
Website  E-mail:



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