Thursday, 18 October 2007

Fabra Observatory 2007-10-09

Last week, I was with a friend, Antonio Bernal, at the Fabra Observatory of Barcelona (map) using a 1900's 38 cm double refractor (visual and photographic) measuring double star separations with a restored micrometric fil counter (from 1900 too). The following pictures show the telescope in operation.

This telescope was widely used during 100 years for astrometry and several minor solar bodies were discovered from here. As a result they have spanish names (Hispania, Barcelona, etc.). The observatory has also a huge collection of photographic plates covering around 80 years. Think about what they can produce if they are digitalized one day... However, the most spectacular achievement was the discovery of the atmosphere ot Titan in 1908 by Comas Sola, the observatory founder, observing the satellite limb darkening. It was published in 1908 in Astronomische Nachrichten and confirmed by Kuiper in 1944.

Today, the telescope is in operation but due to the high light pollution caused by the city it can be used only for some astrometric and planetary observations. The following pictures of the dome and the city show clearly the effect of the light pollution.

After its restoration, Antonio is using the telescope to measure today the separation of double stars that were reported before 1950. So, he hopes to update the double star catalogues confirming the observations and derive orbital information of the double systems. Additionally there are also public visiting tours and in special events they organize some public observations.