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Štefánik expedition returns

AN EXPEDITION led by Jaroslav Oršula to Vava’u Island in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga returned to Slovakia on November 8.

AN EXPEDITION led by Jaroslav Oršula to Vava’u Island in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga returned to Slovakia on November 8.

One of the expedition’s goals was to find the technical documents used by Milan Rastislav Štefánik, the Slovak statesman, astronomer and world traveller, to construct two concrete observation towers in 1911. He used them to observe a total eclipse of the sun on April 28 of that year.

The expedition leaders hope to make replicas of the towers that will be placed at the M.R. Štefánik Museum in Košariská, his birthplace, before the end of this year. The towers on Vava’u Island are the only three-dimensional evidence of Štefánik’s presence in the southern hemisphere, which he visited to pursue his interest in astronomy. The towers were first discovered by a Slovak-led AntArtkis expedition in 1994 on Paris hill overlooking Neifau, the administrative centre of Vava’u.

This year's expedition, called Štefánik/Vava’u 1911-2011, was organised by the IAMES sports club under the patronage of the M.R. Štefánik Society and involved five modern-day explorers, the SITA newswire wrote. The members of the expedition left Slovakia on October 18, spent 10 days in Vava’u and then worked for 10 more days on the North Island of New Zealand documenting places that Štefánik visited on his way to Vava’u in 1911.

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