Catalonia as a destination for astronomical observing
The perfect practice of astronomical observing occurs in areas which are far from urban centers and with absence of light pollution. Catalonia has inland and mountain areas with little or no light pollution which are away from large cities and other light sources. This identifies Catalonia as a really good destination for astronomical observing lovers.
In particular, we find different areas located in the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees with ideal skies for observing stars, planets, constellations, etc. These are located in places of great natural beauty. That is why observatories are established in inland mountains and in the Pyrenees. Furthermore, some of them are located in areas which have been certified as a Starlight Tourist Destination.
DAUCAT Serveis Turístics de Catalunya, SL organizes trips for astronomy enthusiasts and people interested in living unique experiences while discovering our place in the universe. We take the magnificent existing facilities in the territory to explore and also organize observations in the letter, workshops astrophotography, and pairing dinners under the stars in other locations of astrophysicists always guided professionals.
- PRE-PYRENEES – The Montsec range
- SEGARRA – PUJALT
- SOLSONÈS – CASTELLTALLAT
- PIRINEU - PLANES DE SON
PRE-PYRENEES – The Montsec range
MONTSEC ASTRONOMICAL PARK (PAM)
The Montsec range, situated in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, has been recognised for many years for having the best sky in Catalonia and one of the bests of the world for astronomical observing. Not only for having exceptional conditions for astronomical observing but also for its weather conditions and its low light pollution.
In 2013, it was certified as a Starlight Tourism Destination with a total of 24 townships (entire or partly), eleven of them (entire or partly) were also certified a Starlight Reserve (excellent skies).
The Parc Astronòmic Montsec (PAM) has two independent facilities that take advantage of the sky and the properties of Montsec: the Centre d’Observació de l’Univers (COU) and the Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec (OAdM).
Universe Observation Centre (COU)
Located in the town of Ager (la Noguera), the COU is placed in an environment with a very important landscape, geology and biology richness. It has three main structures:
THE CENTRAL BUILDING
It shows a permanent exhibition on astronomy, going through the Big Bang, the galaxies formation, the evolution of stars and the black holes but it also explains the geology, flora and fauna from the Montsec. In this building we find the reception and administration, the permanent exhibition, workshop classrooms, the computer room and other services.
THE EYE OF MONTSEC
This in a unique and exceptional facility worldwide. It consists of a full dome digital 3D multimedia planetarium and of a platform for observing the sky live. Its 12 meters diameter dome and the front wall completely open, leaving visitors under the spectacular Montsec sky.
THE TELESCOPES PARK
Consisting of three buildings with observation domes that contain three automatic telescopes, the park is the exterior space reserved for observing the sky, both day and night.
One of them is the observatory-class allows attendees could see the stars through the projection system displays eight images captured by the telescope installed in the center and also to interact with them.
THE EQUIPMENT OF THE TELESCOPES PARK CONSISTS OF:
- 1 catadioptric telescope of 50 centimeters diameter Dall-Kirkham configuration, located in the new Observatory-classroom with the necessary equipment for the production of high quality astronomical images.
- 1 catadioptric telescope of 40 centimeters Schmidt-Cassegrain configuration, with the necessary equipment for the production of high quality astronomical images.
- 1 refracting telescope of 15 centimeters diameter and high quality optics, located in the small dome, that allows observing the sun during the day and the sky at night.
- 1 celòstat which allows taking and following real-time images from the sun.
- A set of portable telescopes with their accessòries, consisting of more than 20 optical devices of various types: refractors, Newton reflectors and catadioptrics.
Astronomical Observatory of Montsec (OAdM)
The Montsec Astronomical Observatory is responsible for scientific observations of PAM and is located in the town of Sant Esteve de la Sarga (Pallars Jussà), 1,570 meters on the sea level.
With the clear purpose of serving the investigation and training, the OADM has a 6.15 meter diameter dome containing the Joan Oró telescope, the largest and most technologically advanced in Catalonia.
The robotic telescope of 80 centimetres in diameter, allows operate OADM completely autonomous, because it can be controlled from anywhere in the world via the Internet with other equipments.
THE OBSERVATORY’S EQUIPMENT INCLUDES:
- Robotic Telescope of 80 centimetres in diameter.
- Broadband Communications System.
- Two automatic weather stations.
- GPS system.
- Storm detector.
- Rain detector.
- Cloud monitor for evaluating the sky situation.
SEGARRA – PUJALT
Astronomical Observatory of Pujalt
Located at 750 meters above the sea level, the Pujalt Observatory is mainly characterized by being from the large cities and having a very good light conditions for observing planets, stars, constellations, galaxies, etc.
Working fully since 2004, the Pujalt Observatory has the objective of defunding the astronomy and meteorology for schools and general public, and the scientific investigation, collaborating with the Barcelona Astronomical Association (ASTER) and the Astroanoia Agrupation. It has a big project ahead: building an astronomical park with another building where there will be a large fixed telescope with a protective dome.
The Pujalt Observatory also works as a meteorological observatory, collecting and measuring atmospheric variables and observing its change. Therefore, it has manual and automatic devices for taking different measures of the atmosphere situation, studying the atmosphere and making meteorology (thermometers, anemometers and rain gauges).
SOLSONÈS – CASTELLTALLAT
ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY OF CASTELLTALLAT
The observatory of Castelltallat is located in the middle of an architectural ensemble of great value, next to the castle of Montedono, from the seventh century, and the Rectory from the twelfth century, being located on a hill 910 meters altitude, it shows fantastic views of the central Catalonia and the Pyrenees.
THE BUILDING OF THE DOME
The main element of the observatory is the building crowned by a 5,25 metres of diameter dome, fully motorized, which has a 400 mm diameter telescope designated to astronomical observation.
The building of the Rectory, a few meters from the dome building, contains the Interpretation Centre, which has an auditorium and an exhibition hall. With the permanent exposition “The proportions of the Solar System” it illustrates the proportions of the Sun and the planets that surround it very graphically and, by extension, it is used as a starting point to give an idea of the proportion of the Sun toward the other stars of the Milky Way.
THE OBSERVATORY’S EQUIPMENT INCLUDES:
- 1 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope type, 410 mm (f/10) opening supported by an equatorial mount Losmandy HG-200.
- 2 Dobson telescopes 250 and 300 mm aperture.
- 1 Maksutow 7-inch telescope.
- 1 Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector of 280 mm.
- A 150 mm refractor.
- 1 solar refractor telescope apochromatic with 106 mm aperture with a hydrogen alpha filter, Solar-Spectrum (Baader Planetarium brand).
PIRINEU – PLANES DE SON
MÓNNATURA PIRINEUS ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY
Located a few kilometers from the village of Son (Pallars Sobirà) MónNatura Pirineus is located in the Àneu valleys, one of the best preserved areas of the Pyrenees, next to the Aigüestortes National Park and Sant Maurici Lake and very close to the Natural Park of the High Pyrenees.
MónNatura Pirineus opened in 2002 and its mission in to sensitizing society towards sustainable development and the nature and landscape conservation through activities of environmental education. That is why, the construction of the facilities of more than 3.000m2 is bioclimatic, it is halfed-buried in a meadow and energy-efficient.
The building is divided into two areas. The activity area, with fully equipped spaces for different activities that take place, and the residential and service area, which also offers accommodation and catering. The activity area has a planetarium and a laboratory where research activities and workshops for families and schools are hold. Completing the facilities, it also has an auditorium for 165 people, a computer room, a library and a playroom.
In the vicinity of the bioclimatic building, the complex has a wildlife center dedicated to the outreach, research and reintroduction of animals and MónNatura Pirienus Observatory, which offers exceptional observing conditions in the absence of contamination light and atmospheric location at 1530 meters. The Observatori Astronòmic MónNatura Pirineus, part of this complex, is included and recognized within the international network supported by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), a body of the International Astronomical Union (UIA).
THE OBSERVATORY’S EQUIPMENT INCLUDES:
- A MEADE LX200 GPS professional observation telescope (16″), which allows different elements of deep space to be observed in detail.
- A CCD camera for astrophotography of the day or night sky.
- A telescope for conducting solar observations, allowing us to admire the chromosphere.
- 4 MEADE LX200 GPS telescopes (10″) for ease of transportation and dedicated to allowing all kinds of users to observe deep space.
- 5 Miyauchi astronomy binoculars for night observations, William Optics self-focusing binoculars.