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Elia Cozzi - Astrophysicist

Hello, my name is Elia Cozzi. I am the owner and the manager of the New Millennium Observatory. I was born in Northern Italy in 1970 and since I was nine years old, astronomy fascinating me more than any other toys. My dream was to be an astronomer and to own an observatory!

When I was a child I used my father’s 8x30 binoculars to explore the sky. I spent a lot of nights outdoor to look to this or to that star, many times without knowing the name of the star or constellation.

My passion really exploded in 1985, when the Halley Comet was visible in the sky, and just the first night I observed the Comet, I independently discovered the Andromeda Galaxy!

Since then I understood that astronomy was been in my life forever.

In Christmas 1987 with my saved money I bought my first telescope, a 20-cm Schmidt-Cassegrain on German equatorial mount. I never read the manual of the telescope, so that the first night I was out, I spent many hours to understand the correct position of the mount. I had to observe Jupiter, I well knew where Jupiter was in the sky, but there was no way to point the telescope toward the planet. But finally I applied a little bit of logic and found how to set the telescope. Jupiter was in the center of the eyepiece and I was on .... that planet!

A break during work in Central African RepublicThat night fascinating me so much that I begun to buy and read any kind of books and magazines about astronomy. At school I got very good results but English was very boring for me, thanks to Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines I begun to love English so much that now, at 35, after 17 years of subscription to those magazines, if I want to buy a book I prefer the English version instead of Italian one!

At the end of the secondary school in account and commercial law (What kind of relation with astronomy? Nothing, but my father wanted me to study this and I was also fascinating by the bank work of my father and I graduated with the maximum score), I choose Astrophysics. It was very hard to gain the degree because I spent every clear night in the backyard with my telescope, but finally I got it.

I done my thesis work about the luminosity function of clusters of galaxies at Brera-Merate Astronomical Observatory.

My SelfJust after the degree, I spent some months at Guillermo-Haro Astrophysical Observatory in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. I was there for a project about "seeing" measurement: among the professional astronomers there was nobody able to use the DIMM seeing monitor. So I set up the instruments and begun a very long campaign of seeing measurements. Every night I worked also as instrumentation technician and resident astronomer for the 2.1-m reflector of the observatory and this gave me a lot of skills about astronomical instruments.

I well remember that day when Xavier, the best night assistant I ever met, and I modified the 2.1-m telescope taking away the camera and putting an eyepiece: during that night we observed Saturn, the Crab Nebula and Orion Nebula with our eyes throw a so large telescope! Absolutely breathtaking!!!

Sometimes I crossed the border with United States to go in Arizona (50 km away from Cananea) to visit a an observatory: Kitt Peak, Mount Graham, Mount Lemmon, etc. For every telescope and dome I noted different solution to problems (rotation, balance, counterweight, light shield, ...).

I will ever remember the Arizona-Mexico sky! Just after sunset a very bright, wide and white zodiacal light was always visible, the Milky Way crossed the sky from horizon to horizon, setting beyond the mount without dimming. There were so many stars visible with naked eye that the constellation were very difficult to recognize. Many night I measured the limit magnitude of the sky and it was well beyond 6.5, probably 7, probably 7.5. The North America Nebula was clearly visible with naked eye.

After that period I came back in Italy to build my observatory. Please look at Telescope and Observatory web page for more details about these subjects.

With my brother on the way to Pico de Teide, Tenerife.Very often, with a friend of mine, now in Mexico, I went to the Bologna-Loiano Astronomical Observatory to collect images and spectra about irregular galaxies.

During summer, along with my amateur astronomers friends, I often went at San Bernardino Pass, at 2064-m a.s.l., in Swiss Alps to observe deep sky objects. We discovered that site in 1991 and even today it is at first place in our sky quality preferences.

In 1999 I organized and managed the “Zorludelamera 1999” expedition in Austria to observe the Total Solar Eclipse. Probably one of the most breathtaking and dramatic astronomical event! We were lucky, after a day and night of heavy rain, the clouds opened just for the eclipse period. For a detailed description of this unforgettable experience please look at 1999 Total Solar Eclipse page.

In November 1999 I set up the “El Rugido del Leon” expedition in Tenerife (Canary Islands) to observe the Leonids meteor shower. The sky was very good, the weather fantastic, the place unforgettable, but the lion did not road!

Do not worry, I never give up! So in November 2002 I went to South French Alps, atop Col du Ferrier, to observe a real rain of Leonids meteors. More than one-thousand in a single night! For a nice description of this expedition, look at Leonids Meteor Shower page.Heavy snow atop MonteGeneroso

In September 2000 I went back in Mexico, this time atop Sierra La Negra, at 4900-m a.s.l., to monitor sky and seeing condition before installing the Mexican largest optical telescope. In that place the Gran Telescopio Millimetrico, a large radiotelescope, was under construction (it is again under construction!!), and the Istituto de Astronomia Optica y Electronica looked for someone able to measure the seeing and the sky condition to evaluate the possibility of install an optical telescope. I took more than two weeks to set up the instruments and the logistic (believe me, working during the night a 4900-m is not easy!) and, at the end, the project was a failure: a very poor organization and competence, suggested me to give up with professional astronomy: there are too many astronomers that do this work because otherwise they are able to do nothing, and, sincerely, they are not able to do even their work!

My nearest Star (on Planet Earth)!Since 1999 I manage the “Osservatorio del Monte Generoso” (Mount Generoso Observatory) atop Monte Generoso (1604-m a.s.l.), in Southern Swiss Alps, and since 2003 I am the scientific director of the observatory.

The telescope is a 0.61-m Ritchey-Chrétien, sky conditions are good (transparence very good, seeing not so good!) and light pollution is not so dangerous.

At the present I am atop Monte Generoso two or three nights per week, for observations, astronomy lessons and lectures: there are a lot of students that come to spend a night under the stars and I like very much teaching astronomy and showing sky wonders to common people.

For reference about the observatory and other nice facilities atop Monte Generoso, please look at Monte Generoso web pages and at my page about this observatory. Is it possible to catch a star during the day? Yes!

Since 2002 I spend every years some weeks in Africa, in particular Central Africa Republic, but in the near future there are also Zambia and Mozambique, to install solar panel plants for forest hospitals, water pumps, first aid centers, and so on. I like it very much and I well understand what is the “Love for Africa”. For a deeper view about this subject look at MyAfrica page.

When I am not at my New Millennium Observatory or atop Monte Generoso, or somewhere in Africa, I work as logical and computer analyst for a big Italian bank.

 

For any information about the New Millennium Observatory or this web page, please send an e-mail to  Dr. Elia Cozzi
Latest update: 13-09-10