In memoriam. Jaan Vennik (1948–2021)
On a beautiful crisp winter morning on February 19, our dear long-time colleague Jaan Vennik passed. Distant galaxies and how they gather to become clusters fascinated Jaan for years, even decades. As many researchers of Tõravere's first generation, he came to study at the University of Tartu as a simple boy, although he had graduated with honors from Tapa's 1st Gymnasium. After receiving his physicist's diploma, he stayed here, and the observatory – no matter what it was called at different times – remained his only workplace.
Globular star clusters, which are one of the most ancient formations of the Universe, gave Jaan inspiration to move forward, go discover the secrets of how bigger star systems are formed and what keeps them together. When it was possible, Jaan preferred to gather the data he needed to work through his own observations. Tõravere couldn't offer all the info he needed: he also did observations in Armenia and Russia, Germany and Spain. Thanks to his great knowledge of the German language, Jaan developed especially good partner- and friendships with German astronomers.
For many years, Jaan Vennik was the best expert of photometry in Tõravere, as well as the best specialist of the 0.5 metre telescopes Castor and Pollux. There are hundreds of observation points collected by him in the light curves of the symbiotic binary star CH Cygni. In his last years, Jaan dedicated himself mostly to pupils and other visitors, introducing the observatory through many excursions, showing the starry sky at public observation nights and supervising students in active learning programmes.
Every road comes to an end. The ones left behind might think that it happened too soon, but let's be grateful for the fifty years when Jaan was a calm and mellow colleague for many of us. Our thoughts are with Helvi, who created a lovely home with Jaan, as well as with Kersti and Timo's families. Farewell, Jaan, and a good journey towards the stars.
Colleagues from Tõravere