About us

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How it all started...

The origin of the Flemish Public Observatories can be traced back to the successful Apollo space project resulting in the first landing and footsteps on the Moon on July 21, 1969. This event did not only raise interest in space technology, but basically in everything that was ‘space related’, including astronomy. The foundation of public observatories Mira in Grimbergen and Urania in Hove was the short term result. The enthusiastic efforts of the late Armand Pien, a very popular meteorological presenter on television, resulted later in four more Public Observatories: Beisbroek (Bruges), Cosmodrome (Genk), Armand Pien (University of Ghent) and AstroLab IRIS (Ieper). In this way a close network of actors in the field of popularisation of astronomically related sciences was born in Flanders and which is unique when looking at it in an international context.

In Bruges, in the late seventies of the twentieth century, the idea grew between some prominent amateur astronomers like Harry De Meyer and Gaby Tack to start a local public observatory. When Herman Ghyoot, currently honorary chairman and founding chairman of Volkssterrenwacht Beisbroek, became city council member in 1977, he convinced the council to invest in such an educational project. A part of the Beisbroek manor House was refurbished and an observatory tower adjacent to the house was constructed and outfitted with the necessary telescopes next to a small planetarium. On October 20, 1984, the association Volkssterrenwacht Beisbroek vzw was founded and on March 30, 1985 the observatory was opened by Armand Pien.

Originally the activities were all organised by voluntary amateur astronomers. From 1997 it became possible to hire a permanent educational and administrative co-worker. This obviously opened the possibilities to welcome more visiting groups during the daytime.

Following the millennium, part of the infrastructure of the visitor centre needed renewal. On March 30, 2002, the brand new Zeiss ZKP3 planetarium projector was brought into use. At the same time a renewed interactive astronomy exposition was opened to the public. The sweet taste of renewal led to the inauguration on July 4, 2004 of a planet-walk in the Beisbroek park, combining art and science. In the winter of 2006, a fully computerised telescope mount was installed and in the same year the tea-room Koetsenhuis was acquired by the association, which meant a significant expansion in workspace and room for lectures. A more recent addition to the planetarium was officially launched on Dec 20, 2008: then the full dome video projection system was taken into use.

All these evolutions resulted in the fact that the original seventies concept of a ‘public observatory’ is only partially covering the activities anymore. It can be stated that today we are evolved into a small scale ‘science centre’- obviously with astronomy and related sciences at the forefront). To express this evolution, the visitor centre received a new name ‘Cozmix’ at the end of 2012.

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What is our mission?

Cozmix is the visitor center of the Public Observatory Beisbroek (Volkssterrenwacht Beisbroek), one of the six public observatories in Flanders. The mission of the public observatories is to popularise astronomy, meteorology, space technology and related sciences. This is done by organising different activities for different target groups, always taking in mind personalising the offering on demand. This is done via a group of voluntary enthusiasts (supported by administrative and educational personnel) who expand their expertise to stay up to speed with ongoing developments in the field. The observatories organise activities for the voluntary co-workers – and especially for youngsters - in order to promote their interest in science and technology and eventually to convince scientific or technological studies where appropriate.

The mission of the Flemish Public Observatories is reflected in their strategical targets:

  • The Flemish Public Observatories try to inform a broad public about astronomy, space science and related sciences and technologies.
  • The Flemish Public Observatories become a dedicated centre of expertise for astronomy, space science and related sciences and technologies and for science in technology in general.
  • The Flemish Public Observatories organise their scientific communication to a large extent via personal contacts during which the content is adapted to the wishes and needs of the respective target groups
  • The Flemish Public Observatories develop specific activities for youngsters that contribute to their interest in the areas of sciences and technology
  • The Flemish Public Observatories offer to Flemish researchers a platform to present their scientific work to a broad interested public at large.
  • The Flemish Public Observatories strive for mutual cooperation and structural cooperation with other organisations in the field and develop new initiatives to increase their impact and to anticipate on new developments in society

The strategic targets are translated into operational targets which are realised by offering a broad range of activities that are covered and presented in the rest of the website.

The Public Observatories are expert centres that work with a group of voluntary co-workers to realise their main target – the popularisation of astronomy, space technology and related sciences and technologies to a broad public. By its nature, astronomy covers and has a lot of interactivities with different sciences, therefore the term ‘Observatory’ covers a broader range than suspected at first view - the Public Observatories try to cover relevant actual themes in society.

The Public Observatory Beisbroek is a non-profit association. The governing body of the association currently consists of the following persons:

President: Jan Vandenbruaene

Vice President: Hendrik Vandenbruaene

  • Secretary: Frank Tamsin
  • Treasurer: Bart Vandenbussche

Other Directors:

  • Franky Blanckaert
  • Mia Callens
  • Stefaan Cappelle
  • Arne Dierickx
  • Filip Questier
  • Monique Spitaels
  • Karin Van Daele

Our permanent staff:

  • Rinus Holvoet
  • Stefanie Ninclaus

In addition, an important part of the operation relies on an enthusiastic team of volunteers.