The Derelict Observatory Zimenki

Viktoriia Makeenko
Credit: Yury Lebedev
Credit: Yury Lebedev

There are not only cultural attractions in the Nizhny Novgorod region in Russia but also abandoned man-made buildings.

In 1947, in the village of Zimenki (30 kilometers from the city of Nizhny Novgorod) became home to an observatory that belonged to a Radiophysical Research Institute.

Today, the observatory and its surrounding site are abandoned and almost unguarded. However, several radio telescopes still remain.

Various areas of research were conducted at the radio astronomy station at Zimenk including the physics of solar flares, radio monitoring of solar activity, observation of the ionosphere, and seismology of the Earth. Radio scanning of space also took place in order to identify extraterrestrial life forms and their signals.

The data collected was examined by laboratory assistants then sent to Moscow, where it was used in the areas of medicine and astronautics.

Radio telescope RT-15-2 on the reverse side. Author: Yury Lebedev

With the RT-15 radio telescope, the Galaxy program conducted searches for narrow-band radio signals from non-planetary civilizations. Eleven star systems that are up to 100 light-years from the Sun were investigated, as was the Andromeda Nebula (galaxy M31).

The complex and Observatory at Zimenk included several parabolic radio telescopes, a reception center for VLBI, and research rooms.

Today, the station is mothballed, and parts of it have been sawn down into its metal constituents.

The only places which still have equipment left are one radio telescope RT-15-2, several smaller “plates,” and a tower. A radio telescope control building also still has furniture as well as various documents scattered around, including radiograms and letters from scientists from all over the world.

Telescope RT-15-1. Author: Yury Lebedev

Of the huge ionosphere antenna, only the concrete pillars are left, standing in several even rows.

Passing from the research complex to the former buildings were the scientists and other staff resided, you can see several plates of smaller diameters lying on the ground near the former apartments.

Nearby houses and vans are dotted with fake drawings and meaningless inscriptions. On the ground, someone has drawn a bunch of white diagrams. There are no more antennas, and only the concrete supports of the telescopes remain. Above all this rises a rusty tower.

On the site of this former scientific facility, one can find boxes with chart tapes, instructions for using measuring instruments, and heaps of tape paper from a wide-area dot-matrix printer on which one can also see various graphs.

The concrete foundations which once supported scientific equipment protrude from the ground across the entire site. From afar, the remains of antennas can still be seen.

The GPS coordinates are N 56 ° 9.246´ E 44 ° 17.145´.

Dismantled equipment. Author: Yury Lebedev


The watchman who was an employee of Zimenki but who is retired now. Author: Yury Lebedev


Author: Yury Lebedev

Another Story From Us: The Abandoned Piano Castle

Telescope RT-15-2. Author: Yury Lebedev