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Slovenian student Peter Andolšek the best young astronomer in the world

The Slovenian team returned from the 16th International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad with one gold, two silver and one bronze medal and a commendation. The overall winner of the Olympiad was Peter Andolšek from Bežigrad Grammar School. The Olympiad took place from 10 to 20 August in Poland, where this year the 550th anniversary of the birth of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus is being celebrated. The next Olympiad will take place in Brazil.

The best of the best

"Peter Andolšek was the best of the best. In addition to the overall win, he also won two of the three categories, astronomical observations and astronomical data processing."

Andolšek won the gold medal for the third year in a row, a feat no Slovenian competitor has ever achieved at the Science Olympiads. This time, however, he was crowned the best young astronomer in the world.

This is the second time Slovenia has had a joint winner in the 10 years Slovenian students have been taking part in the competition. In 2017, Alexej Jurca won in Thailand. This is a remarkable achievement that even the strongest teams in the world cannot match.

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He has been interested in astronomy for as long as he can remember

"I have been interested in this field for as long as I can remember. I've always loved reading astronomy encyclopaedias and memorising interesting facts like how many moons a planet has and so on. But I really got into astronomy when I took part in competitions in eighth grade. I also started to learn more about physics in high school," he explained, adding that he spends a good deal of his free time on astronomy.

"When I have time, I do astronomy. It's not that I have a goal of winning a gold medal at the Olympics, but I really enjoy gaining knowledge in this field. I read books, I do calculations, I look at formulae, I also observe with a telescope. But I am more interested in theoretical astronomy or astrophysics than in observations."

Around 250 competitors from 50 countries

Other members of the team were also celebrities at this year's Olympiad. Žan Ambrožič from Kranj Secondary School and Miha Brvar from Bežigrad Secondary School won silver medals, Žan Arsov, who also attends Bežigrad Secondary School, won a bronze medal, and Marija Judež from the Secondary Electro School and Technical Secondary School Novo mesto received a commendation.

A record 50 countries took part in the 16th International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad, with a total of around 250 competitors. The Olympiad is a kind of astronomy triathlon, where students tested their knowledge in theoretical and observational tasks and in the processing of astronomical data.

The Slovenian team was led by Vid Kavčič, Andrej Guštin and Dunja Fabjan. Andreja Gomboc, Simon Bukovšek, Urban Razpotnik, Rok Kovač, Jon Judež, Ema Mlinar, Jakob Jurij Snoj and Ajda Erjavec were also involved in the national selection, team preparation and the implementation of the competition. The astronomy competitions and the preparation and selection of the Astronomy Olympic Team are organised by the Slovenian Association of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers.

Author: Vesna Žarkovič

Date: 24. August 2023

Time to read: 3 min