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Kali and Angel - the astrologers of PlaMnina


One of the most exciting trainings we explore at our summer camps is astronomy training. The lovely Kali and Angel are the people who spark the campers' interest in the vast Cosmos.



Who are you (how did you meet, do you have any pets?)


Angel: I'm Angel, 34 years old, we live in a small house in a suburb of Sofia. I collect a lot of things, I have a lot of hobbies and we have a lot of pets. Kalina and I met at the Sofia University Observatory in Borisova Garden. I worked there, Kali volunteered.


Kalina: My name is Kalina and I am 25 years old. I love to do so many things that it would take me half a day to list them all, so I guess in the end my passion is finding something new to do and sharing it with Angel. I met him just after another adventure - I volunteered to help the people working at the Astronomical Observatory of Sofia University, and now, 8 years later, we continue to discover the world together. In addition to all the interesting things in our lives, we also share the care of two cats, a leopard gecko, a Mexican ambystoma, and a very energetic fish. Does my collection of rare orchids also count as a pet?





What do you do? When did you decide you wanted to do physics and astronomy?


Angel: I am engaged in presenting the interesting parts of physics and astronomy to children and adults. Natural sciences are fun, and discovering the world around us and searching for the answers to the most ordinary questions can be very exciting. Astronomy came about after a series of fortuitous events. If I hadn't failed at the Technical University and the entrance exam to the Faculty of Biology, I would have been an engineer or a biologist. I don't regret any of my shoots!


Kalina: From a very young age, I was attracted to books, and relatively early, when I was 9, I turned to science and physics in particular. My professional path began in the field of astronomy because I was attracted to it even in high school, I went to many events and even to international competitions. Coincidentally, the wind carried me into another area of physics - the science of elementary particles. I am currently working on two international experiments - one at CERN (from French: European Organization for Nuclear Research), Switzerland, and the other in Frascati, Italy. I search for dark matter and create algorithms with artificial intelligence, and I have the most amazing job in the world.




How did you find out about PlaMnina? What activity do you run at the camps? What keeps you going at the camps?


Angel: I found out from a friend - Sofia. She was, as far as I know, one of the first PlaMninars. We went to the first camp. We saw that it made sense, and the attitude, the team, and the kids were cool. We also went to the second one. So far... Maybe this year they'll hit double digits. Children are the most valuable resource a society has and developing them into thinking and successful individuals is very important. Well, everyone excited or "passionate" about science, art, sports, etc. a child is a small barrier in front of the simplicity flooding us from all sides.





Kalina: Developing science is important for all of humanity, but it is even more important to pass on knowledge so that those after us can continue our work. Therefore, we will never stop spreading physics and astronomy, and participating in PlaMnina camps is part of this mission of ours. We found out about the Foundation's activities from a friend who was also a trainer. You have no idea how many people I tell about how it was cloudy at one of the camps, we couldn't see with the telescope, and the kids and I stayed up late waiting for a chance to clear. They had a march ahead of them the next day, but no one wanted to go to bed simply because they hoped to be able to watch. At one point, we also got very sleepy, and Angel had to drive all night to Sofia because we had work to do there the next day. The kids begged us not to go, to wait a little longer, and were willing to organize themselves to take turns waiting for the sky to clear and wake us up to watch, even if it was at 4 am. Such moments embody the whole meaning of what we do. I won't even mention the hundreds of questions they bombard us with - some even come with pre-prepared lists of questions that we happen to be unable to answer...




How does it feel to work at CERN?


Angel: I have no idea. I know a few people who work there. There is something about one of them... in the good sense of the word :) Including Kali, but this seems to be a necessary condition before starting to work there, and not acquired there.


Kalina: The feeling is wonderful, but not so much because of any prestige of the institution itself, but because of the people with whom you share your work. One of the key things for successful work is the team, and I am happy to have found myself among such wonderful people. The work is endlessly interesting to me, but I realize that it can look boring from the outside. It's not like in the movies...





What do you do in your spare time? What are your favorite places to adventure?


Angel: Vitosha is Sofia's greatest asset. Otherwise, I also like new places or familiar ones that we discover in a new way. For example, my kayaking has been fun lately… and it's romantic.


Kalina: What... Angel and I spend a lot of time in nature - we go for walks, and go kayaking... We love Vitosha, and the Rhodope Mountains too, and no matter how familiar they are to us, we discover something new every time.



Do you have a favorite space object or constellation?


Angel: The moon. It is close, it protects us, we can look at it in detail, and we have been there... not me or Kalina, but the people.


Kalina: Earth. As vast as the Cosmos is, this pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan calls it, is our home and we must protect it.




What do you dream about?


Angel: May we always be healthy and be able to get to know the world around us more and more. Now with Kali, someday with our children and grandchildren :)


Kalina: I dream about all kinds of things, so in the end, I just dream that we have the health and strength to go forward and discover the world.



Thanks to Callie and Angel for the interesting answers and inspiring stories. We look forward to seeing them at our next summer camp, looking at the stars!



Photos: Personal archive and archive of PlaMnina Foundation

The interview was conducted by: Kiara Efremova



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