The last 28th of April of 2017, we organised a visit to the “Parc Astronòmic del Montsec”. Located in the countryside, it is one of the best places to observe the night sky in Catalonia. It was a great opportunity to approach us to the science of astronomy since the staff from the observatory kindly adapted the visit to our group, making it more technical than usual.
After about 2h and a half trip by car from Terrassa, we reached the observatory. It is composed by two main facilities: the “Centre d’Observació de l’Univers” (COU) and the “Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec” (OAdM). The visit started in the inside of the OAdM observatory, where an exhibition about the wildlife of the zone was held. After that, guided by the astronomer of the OAdM, we went out to admire one of the clearest skies in Europe. The location and politics of the neighbouring towns guarantee an astonishing sky to the observer.
In fact, the conditions are good enough to make remarkable observations in more than 60% of all the nights in one year. Using a powerful laser pointer the astronomer showed us many constellations and stars of the firmament. Just next to the exit of the OAdM, there were some domes with optical telescopes inside of them. Thanks to these devices, we could observe Jupiter with a jaw-dropping detail. With a little more dedication, we could also see a star cluster.
After this amazing experience and also because of the cold weather, we went rapidly to the main dome of the COU, which houses an electronic telescope. Thanks to it, we could observe many phenomena like the varying electromagnetic radiation of a pulsar and the outgassing of a comet. We could also see the previously observed cluster and Jupiter with an even higher resolution.
The visit ended with some time for the photography enthusiast to capture the uniqueness of the sky we had seen. We concluded this beautiful moment with the below group picture between the darkness and the stars.