Europlanet Summer School 2023

August 8 - 18, 2023

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Molėtai observatory research cources - Europlanet Summer School 2023

Europlanet Summer School 2023

Europlanet 2024-RI and the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory (ITPA VU) are pleased to announce the international research summer school „Space missions: ground-based observations and science communication“ (August 8 - 18, 2023). The aim of the course is to give participants a thorough, multidisciplinary introduction into space missions and the ground-based observations required by space missions before and after launch, as well as an introduction to science communication. More general subjects about specific space missions (TESS, JWST, PLATO…), planetary systems, habitability of planets, photometric and spectroscopic techniques will be presented. Participants will be given some hands-on experience with analysis of stellar chemical composition, detection of stellar variability and/or exoplanets using the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory telescopes (CCD photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy). In addition, the course will give participants the opportunity to develop comprehensive theoretical and practical skills in science communication and engaging with a range of lay audiences, including the public, media, policy makers, schools and educators. The course is open to PhD and master students, early career scientists, and amateur astronomers.

Activities of professional astronomers and amateur astronomers will be merged in order to achieve more understanding between groups. The level of the school is orientated to PhD students and early career scientists, however amateur astronomers will be provided with the additional scientific support during lectures and observations.

  • For selected* participants from the European Economic Area (EEA) and one or two participants from countries outside EEA the participation will be fully covered and up to €360,- for travel depending on the distance travelled will be reimbursed by Europlanet 2024-RI.
  • Other selected participants will have to pay a participation fee of 600 EUR that includes accomodation, meals, excursions and local transportation.

The school is organised by the European Commission HORIZON 2020 project EUROPLANET 2024 Research Infrastructure. Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 871149.


The deadline for application is 8 June 2023 23:59:00 UTC.

Notifications of acceptance by 1 July 2023 23:59:00 UTC.


* More information concerning the reimbursement will be provided for the selected participants personally.

  Molėtai observatory research cources - Organizing Committee
Organizing Committee


 Scientific Organizing Committee

  • Gražina Tautvaišienė, Vilnius University, Chair, (
  • Anita Rachel Heward, Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure, UK
  • Hans Kjeldsen, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Šarūnas Mikolaitis, Vilnius University
  • Erika Pakštienė, Vilnius University

Local Organizing Committee

  • Renata Minkevičiūtė, Vilnius University, Chair
  • Arnas Drazdauskas, Vilnius University
  • Sigitas Leišis, Vilnius University
  • Mindaugas Macijauskas, Vilnius University
  • Šarūnas Mikolaitis, Vilnius University
  • Rima Mikutavičienė, Vilnius University
  • Edita Stonkutė, Vilnius University
  • Gražina Tautvaišienė, Vilnius University


Molėtai observatory research cources - Programme


Date   Lecturer Title
August 8 Tuesday    
  All day   Arrival
  19:00-21:00   Dinner
August 9 Wednesday    
  09:00-10:00   Breakfast
LIVE 10:00-11:00 Grazina Tautvaisiene

Interaction of space and ground-based observations - I

LIVE 11:00-12:00 Erika Pakstiene Photometry of exoplanet transits and variable stars
  12:00-12:30   Coffee break
LIVE 12:30-13:30 Anita Heward Introduction on science communication
  13:30-14:30   Lunch
14:30-17:00   Student presentations (5-10 minutes each)
  17:00-17:30   Coffee break
  17:30-19:00   Tour of the Observatory
  20:00-23:00   Dinner/Reception
August 10 Thursday    
  09:00-10:00   Breakfast
10:00-11:30 Hans Kjeldsen Interaction of space and ground-based observations - II
11:30-13:00 Edita Stonkute Stellar spectra
  13:00-13:30   Coffee break
  13:30-15:00 Erika Pakstiene
Sarunas Mikolaitis
Preparations for observations
  15:00-16:00   Lunch
  16:00-17:30 Erika Pakstiene
Sarunas Mikolaitis
Preparations for observations
  17:30-18:00   Coffee break
18:00-20:00 Anita Heward Writing for the media
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Erika Pakstiene
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 11 Friday    
  11:00-12:00   Breakfast
  12:00-15:00 Erika Pakstiene Exercise in analysis of exoplanet transit data
  15:00-16:00   Lunch
16:00-17:30 Guillaume Guiglion Machine learning for the stellar chemical composition studies
  17:30-18:00   Coffee break
18:00-19:30 Gail Renaud Engaging with schools I
  19:30-20:00   Reports of observations
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Erika Pakstiene
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 12 Saturday    
  11:00-12:00   Breakfast
  12:00-14:30   Free time
  14:30-15:30   Lunch
LIVE 16:00-17:30 Wojciech Burzynski Public Talk about Nicolaus Copernicus


Hans Kjeldsen
Public talk on Space missions
  19:30-20:00   Reports of observations
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Erika Pakstiene
Edita Stonkute
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 13 Sunday    
  09:00-10:00   Breakfast
  10:00-21:00   Excursion to Vilnius
  21:00-22:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Erika Pakstiene
Edita Stonkute
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 14 Monday    
  11:00-12:00   Breakfast
  12:00-15:00 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Exercise in analysis of stellar spectra
  15:00-16:00   Lunch
16:00-17:30 Anita Heward Science exhibition design
  17:30-18:00   Cofee break
18:00-19:30 Gail Renaud Engaging with schools II
  19:30-20:00   Reports of observations
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Erika Pakstiene
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 15 Tuesday    
  11:00-12:00   Breakfast
  12:00-13:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Exercise in determining stellar atmospheric parameters
  13:30-15:00 Erika Pakstiene Exercise in analysis of stellar variability data
  15:00-16:00   Lunch

Hans Kjeldsen

Exercise in preparing of the observing time application
  17:30-18:00   Coffee break
18:00-19:30 All lecturers
Exercise in preparing the observing time application
  19:30-20:00   Reports of observations
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
  22:00-02:30 Sarunas Mikolaitis
Edita Stonkute
Erika Pakstiene
Arnas Drazdauskas
August 16 Wednesday    
  11:00-12:00   Breakfast
  12:00-13:30 All lecturers Work on the large assignments
  13:30-14:00   Coffee break
  14:00-15:30 All lecturers Work on the large assignments
  15:30-16:30   Lunch
  16:30-20:00 All lecturers Work on the large assignments
  20:00-21:00   Dinner
August 17 Thursday    
  09:00-10:00   Breakfast
10:00-11:30 All lecturers Presentations of the large assignments
  11:30-12:00   Coffee break
LIVE 12:00-13:30 All lecturers Presentations of the large assignments
  13:30-14:30   Lunch
LIVE 14:30-16:00 All lecturers Student presentations of press releases
  16:00-16:30   Evaluation of the school
  19:00-24:00   Closing dinner


Molėtai observatory research cources - Lecturers and instructors
Lecturers and instructors

  • Gail Renaud, Freelance educational consultant, UK 

Molėtai observatory research cources - Participants


Alejandro Luis García Muñoz On-Site
Anhelina Voitko On-Site
Ashutosh Sharma On-Site
Barkha Bale On-Site
Bruno Ćurjurić On-Site
Deividas Dudulis On-Site
Elavenil Ganesan On-Site
Elena/Pascual-Sanchez On-Site
Florence Libotte On-Site
Ivan Reyes Rodriguez On-Site
José Antonio/Quiñonero Gris On-Site
Katherine Villavicencio On-Site
Kristupas Stonkus
María Mallo Álvarez On-Site
Markus Ambrosch On-Site
Modestas Šliževičius On-Site
Šarūnas Jacevičius On-Site
Silvia Anastasia Popa On-Site
Sofia Julve Gonzalez On-Site
Ugnė Jonauskaitė On-Site
Valeriia Rychahova On-Site

Aashana Tripathi Online
Abderahmane Soubkiou Online
Ameh James Adah Online
Andre/Kovacs Online
Animesh Ghosh Online
Arif Solmaz Online
Cledison Marcos Da Silva Online
Etsegenet Alemu Online
Eugene Idogbe Online
Eugenijus Žukauskas
Evaldas Kaminskas
Franco Mallia Online
Franco Mallia Online
G. Eswar Online
G.B.Raghavkrishna Online
Gemma Domènech Rams Online
Gintarė ProscevičiūtėOnline
Hamed Zare Online
Javed Iqbal Online
John Carlos Mora Online
Juan Carlos Arias Cañón Online
Juan F. Cabrero Online
Kotryna Šiškauskaitė Online
Krishna Pradeep Bulchandani Online
Laura García-Gómez Online
Linas Šmigelskas
Mostafa Ahmed Online
Mindaugas Beresnevičius
Nora Antonia Bachmann Online
Önder Bakır Online
Raylan Ari Prestes Martins Online
Refath Bari
Rohon Bhattacharjee Online
Rupam Kundu Online
Samer Ayiad Online
Sara Muñoz Torres Online
Saurao Upare Online
Sk Samin Kader Online
Sneha Rajesh Vengurlekar Online
Stuti Sharma Online
Swagat Bordoloi Online
Swastik Chowbay Online
Talha Zia Online
Tonmoy Deka Online
Violeta Poenaru Online
Yawar Abbas Online
Youssef Hamdy Online



Molėtai observatory research cources - Venue

The course is held at the Molėtai Observatory near the town with the same name (around 70 km from Vilnius). Please note that the venue is a bit in the middle of nowhere (as observatories usually are). Thus it is wise to bring all the things you needs with you, since shopping possibilities will be limited. For your needs, an observatory car will go to Molėtai about twice a day and the organisers will accept your orders since you will be occupied by your lectures and other school activities.



Students will be housed in double and triple rooms at the Molėtai Observatory, whereas lecturers will be living in single rooms. There will be one bathroom for 2 or 3 rooms. Linen and towels will be provided. Rooms are not too large, so please do not bring your whole household with you.

Lectures and poster session

Lectures will be held in the auditorium at the Molėtai observatory. Standard poster sizes: A0 (841 x 1189 mm.) portrait or A1 (594 x 841 mm.) landscape.

Arriving to the observatory

1. By plane to Vilnius airport. Convenient way for distant travellers. Use the train or public bus 1 or 2 to get to the coach station from Vilnius airport (railway and coach stations are close to each other). There choose the bus Vilnius-Moletai. Check the timetable . Organizers will provide transportation from Molėtai town coach station to the observatory.

2. By car. For Baltic people it is the easy way to reach the observatory. Please, check the position on the Google map.

Riga  231 km – about 3 hours 23 min.
Tallin 539 km – about 7 hours 28 min.
Tartu 446 km – about 6 hours 32 min.
3. By bus:
The best choice is to go to Vilnius. From Vilnius coach station choose the bus Vilnius-Moletai. Check the timetable. Organizers will provide transportation from Molėtai town coach station to the observatory.
Please, inform about your arriving times as soon as possible, organizers will try to provide transportation from Vilnius and organizers will definitely provide the transportation form Molėtai. If you will have any questions, please contact organizers. Please save the phone number of organizers to call or sms about your arrival to Molėtai or Utena. 
  Molėtai observatory research cources - Social Information
Social Information

Excursion to Vilnius (2023-08-13 Sunday)

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and also its largest city (Population of 550,000).Vilnius is located in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city of the Baltic states.It is known for its Old Town of beautiful architecture, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Its Jewish influence until the 20th century has led to it being described as"the Jerusalem of the North". In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with the Austrian city of Linz.



The biggest Regional Park in Lithuania. It is a forest massif, which is called Labanoro forest. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful forest of Lithuania, and also most valuable treasure of the Regional Park. The relief of the Park is almost flat, but the North-western part of the Park terrain is very undulating. This is a consequence of the glacial period. In the deeper layers underground. It is possible to find moraine loam, which is covered by sand, and this is the reason why up to 300 clear-watered lakes and ponds can be found rippling around even in very small recesses.13% of territory is covered by the lakes. This part of Lithuania has the most lakes. The majority of lakes have interesting islands, bays and peninsulas. The most valuable ones are given the status of natural heritage (Alnio, Aiseto and Mažųjų Siaurių peninsulas). Aiseto, Galuono and Dumblio lakes combine one of the longest hydrographical complexes. Siesartis is third of the most island-full lakes in Lithuania.

Due to the dense programme, longer sightseeing trips are not possible. Thus we recommend to spend some extra days before or after the summer school.Top destinations are:

  • The capital Vilnius
  • The cities Kaunas and Klaipeda (Memel)
  • The Curonian spit
  • The beaches near Palanga


Since the summer school takes place in late summer, pollen allergies might be less of be a problem during the event. For up-to-date information check this website.

Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 08:30-16:30. Please note that there is no cash machine close to the observatory. There is a DNB branch with an ATM in Molėtai, namely at Vilniaus gatve 47, 33102 Molėtai. It opens Mon - Thu 08:30 - 16:30 and Friday 08.00 - 15:30.

The climate of the Lithuania can be described as typical European continental influenced climate with warm, dry summers and fairly severe winters. Thunderstorms with heavy rainfalls do occur in summer.
In July the daily average minimum temperature is 14 degrees (Celsius), whereas the average daily maximum is a 25 degrees centigrade. The days of the Nordic Twilight are over, but days are still long

Lithuania is part of the EU. Infos about customs can be found here.
For importing prescription medicines a formal doctor's note may be requested by the customs officials. Also importing food from non EU-countries is discouraged and could lead to hassle.

Driving in Lithuania
Seat belts are mandatory and the use of mobile phones during driving is prohibited. Always take an insurance for your rented car. Drink-driving is an absolute "must not". If you are caught with alcohol in your blood driving a car you can immediately lose your license. A heavy fine or a prison sentence will also be imposed. Always use dipped lights under the day when driving. 

Lithuania uses 220 Volts AC, 50 Hz frequency (like continental Europe). Also plugs are continental safety plugs (like those used in France and Germany).


The general emergency phone number in Lithuania is 112. The European emergency number 112 is not the only emergency number in Lithuania. Alongside 112, the following emergency numbers are available: 01 for the fire brigade, 02 for the police and 03 for the ambulance. 112 calls are answered on average within 6 seconds.The 112 operator should be able detect the location of the caller within about 2 seconds

Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to its cool and moist northern climate: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. It has much in common with other Eastern European and Jewish cuisines. Thus there are similar Lithuanian and Polish versions of dumplings (pierogi or koldunai), doughnuts (paczki or spurgos), and crepes (blini or blynai). German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis) and potato sausages (vedarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as šakotis. The most exotic of all the influences is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dishes kibinai and ceburekai are popular in Lithuania. The popular «Torte Napoleon» was introduced during Napoleon's passage through Lithuania in the 19th century.

Cepelinai, potato dumplings stuffed with meat, curd cheese or mushrooms, is the most famous national dish. Other national foods include dark rye bread, cold beet soup (šaltibaršciai), and kugelis (a baked potato pudding), smoked sausage and vedarai (cooked potatoes and sausage stuffed into pig intestines).


Locally brewed beer (alus), whiskey (degtine), and kvass (gira) are popular drinks in Lithuania. Lithuania is also a place where you may taste the unique snacks with beer such as: garlic bread, peas with ribs, smoked cheese, smoked pig ears and plums with various fillings.
Every region in Lithuania has preserved its original traditional dishes.

Health issues
For European visitors who fall ill or have an accident, free or reduced-cost treatment is available in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment only. Note that the EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid. Healthcare might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from your own health service. This means you may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. US visitors and those of other countries: Please check with your health insurance company in your home country for information about coverage. Healthcare can get expensive if you are not insured!

Drinking tap water is generally safe in Lithuania. We exclusevely use the artesian water, thus there is no need to buy a botteled water.

Since we are in the countryside, you are recommended to be vaccinated against tetanus. Also, vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is highly recommended.

Please note: Some medication which is sold over the counter in other countries might require a prescription or even be illegal. The former includes contraceptives! If you are required to take some drugs with you, bring a written confirmation of your doctor and take the red line at the customs (to avoid problems).

Immigration & Visa requirements
Lithuania is a member of the Schengen agreement which exempts travellers from regular personal border controls between 13 European Union (EU) countries and two European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway and Iceland). People living in Great Britain and Ireland are subject to personal border controls upon entry to Lithuania. Border controls can, however be imposed on travellers from all states (this happens sometimes before football matches).
A valid passport is necessary for visitors to Lithuania, except for citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. But also for citizens of those states it is highly recommended to take a passport with them.
Visitors from many countries are exempted from tourist visa requirements. A list of countries whose citizens do not need a visa is found here. If you are citizen of such a state, you should contact the Lithuanian embassy responsible for your country before application to avoid delays. For practical reasons, visas to Lithuania are, in some countries, issued by diplomatic missions from to other countries, depending on the country where the applicant is located. General infos about immigration to Lithuania can be found here.

Lithuanian belongs to the Baltic Languages and is related to Latvian. Some researchers believe it contains many features of Proto-Indo-European now lost in other Indo-European languages. In 1864 the use of Lithuanian in education and publishing and the Latin alphabet was banned by Russian authorities. However, books in Lithuanian were smuggled into Lithuania from Germany until the ban was lifted in 1904. The Lithuanian alphabet has 32 letters and pronounciation is difficult. Further infos about the language with some listening examples can be found here.

Laundry facilities
There are two washing machines and all other necessary belongings for self-catering laundry and ironing. So we should manage, but do not expect to have ample possibilities for washing clothes.

Legal issues
Lithuanian law applies for and throughout the summer school.

Breakfast will be provided at Molėtai Observatory. The same holds for lunches and dinners. On excursions we will eat outside together. Sometimes (weather allowing) we will do barbeques at the observatory.
Please note that we are in a fairly rural area, and the choice of meals is not as extensive than in major cities. This might be problematic you if you have extensive dietary requirements.

Medical help
Medical help is available from Molėtai hospital at Vilniaus g. 78. The registraion office os open from 07:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday. Please note that the command of English of the health personnel might be a bit lacking, it is good to take a Lithuanian-speaking person with you. There are 2 pharmacies in Molėtai. Camelia on Amatu g. 3B is open at weekdays from 08:00 to 18:00 and 08:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays. N vaistine (Vilniaus g. 99) opens from 08:00 to 21:00 on weekdays, 09:00 to 18:00 on Saturdays and 09:00 to 16:00 on Sundays. There is a first aid-kit at the Observatory.

Since 1 January 2015 Lithuania has the EURO (we had LITAS before). Cash can be obtained with these cards at ATM machines.
The use of traveller cheques as payments is uncommon.

The common adder is the only venomous snake in Lithuania, it is very rare around the observatory. Since there are many lakes are located around the mosquitoes can be a problem.Thus it is a good idea to bring some insect repellent.

Therefore, the grass snake (Natrix natrix), sometimes called the ringed snake or water snake, is not dangerous and very common in our forest. It is very lovely, please, never harm it. You, probably, will see them swiming in the lake. Please, enjoy that moment. Another lovely animal is the Anguis fragilis, or slow worm, is a limbless lizard native to Eurasia. It is sometimes called a blindworm. Its German name, "Blindschleiche".

The grass snake takes a very important role in the Baltic mythology.

Catholic influence is very strong in Lithuania. Some Catholic priests actively led the resistance against the Communist regime and Lithuania was the only predominantly Catholic Soviet republic. Church holidays are still celebrated intensively.

The traditionaly strong Jewish community was almost wiped out by the Shoah. Today, however thre is a very active Jewish community in Vilnius with 4000 members.

Compared to other European states, Lithuania is still an inexpensive country. The following souvenirs are usually a goood choice:

  • Amber jevellery
  • Clothes made from linen
  • Hand-woven baskets (Lithuanians like to collect berries and mushrooms)
  • Berry jams and dried mushrooms (not the magic ones)
  • Ceramics and wooden artefacts
  • For children: High-quality wooden toys (starting to get expensive though)
For traditional handicraft products check out the website of the Lithuanian heritage.

Please note that during the summer school the programme is dense and souvenir shopping possibilities in Molėtai are somewhat limited. Better to plan in an extra day in Vilnius. 

The country code for Lithuania is 370. To telephone out from Lithuania, dial 00 or + and the country code, so 0049 for Germany and 001 for the US.

During the summer course, Eastern European Daylight saving time (UTC + 3 hours) will be in force. If it is 1 o'clock in London and 2 o'clock in Paris it is 3 o'clock in Lithuania.

In restaurants, tipping of 5 - 10 percent of the bill is usual.

Tourist information
For tourist information about Lithuania check the site of the Lithuanian tourist office. Information about the City of Vilnius can be found here.