Touching the sky: Observatories and planetariums

We’re back to night outings! Being honest, it’s too hot during the day to do anything else a part from lying on the beach close to the water’s edge or under the shade of a tree, if you are lucky enough to be on holidays. So this week’s recommendation is to make the most of... View Article


We’re back to night outings! Being honest, it’s too hot during the day to do anything else a part from lying on the beach close to the water’s edge or under the shade of a tree, if you are lucky enough to be on holidays. So this week’s recommendation is to make the most of any clear summer night and choose among the variety of observatories and planetariums available in the country. Catalunya has a good variety of high quality facilities that will please everyone: from the astronomy expert to the general public, for adults and children… And all of them offer tours, activities and workshops to enjoy the experience at its most.

 

We have looked checked the options available and selected some of the best alternatives. As always, we recommend you to follow the link provided, that will lead you the observatory website, where you will find all the information regarding your visit (timetable, prices, conditions, …) and scheduled activities. We have put together our recommendations of observatories (blue spots) and planetariums (red spots) on a map.
To plan your visit, it’s really important to differentiate day time visits from night time. If you are planning a day time visit, maybe a planetarium is more suitable. Their equipment is base on digital projections and reproductions, usually with a high educational content.

 

In Catalunya, there are three planetarium equipped with the highest technology, such as the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Granollers. Recently opened (late 2013), it has a dome of 6 meters in diameter, a large ring-shaped sofa for up to 30 people and the lastest technology to offer a variety of programs and space views from different places of the earth, as well as reproductions of the past and future predictions.

Another important planetarium is the one in the Museu Cosmocaixa in Barcelona. This planetarium, equipped with the lastest 3D facilities, can project high quality and realistic images, throughout the whole dome, surrounding completely the viewer and making it part of the action. Its dome measures 14 meters in diameter and has a capacity of 136 people.

Another important planetarium is the one located in the Centre d’Observació de l’Univers, with a dome measuring 12 metres in diameter and a capacity for 70 people; it’s known as the “Eye of the Montsec”. You will be able to enjoy an exceptional multimedia experience, but also to watch the real sky above the planetarium, as the dome is built with movable walls allowing the users a panoramic view free from light pollution.

We have also included in this lists, the planetarium set inside the space MónNatura Pirineus. They offer not only a planetarium and an observatory, but also lodging for families and groups and different activities to help you discover the amazing area of Valls d’Àneu such as knowing the animals living in the surroundings or guided tours.

 

If what you are looking for is to enjoy a real-time view of the sky and heard the best explanations given by professional astronomers, you will have to head towards one of the different observatories in Catalunya. This facilities offer night visits, activities and workshops for the whole family, but also some special alternatives as “dinner under the stars” or a “jazz concert”.

 

Let’s start with the newest observatory. We are talking about the Centre d’Observació de l’Univers. Located in the town of Àger, set as part of the Parc Astronòmic del Montsec. This parc has two clearly differentiated equipements. One is the  l’Observatori Astronòmic which covers the scientific side of the park; and the other is the Centre d’Observació de l’Univers, open to the general public. In this centre we can find a permanent exhibition, a classroom to hold workshops and group activities, l’Ull del Montsec”, which as we have already mentioned before, works as a digital planetarium but that also opens to the sky; and the Parc de Telescopis, an outdoor section devoted to observing the sky both day and night.

Another observatory, this time one of the oldest dating from 1904, is the Observatori Fabra in Barcelona, which features also an amazing panoramic view over the city. Located on top of the Tibidabo Mountain (Barcelona), they offer day and night tours, including a visit to the building (dating from 1904) and the chance to browse the sky using one of the two centenarian telescopes that are still in use in the observatory. During the Summer season, they are also offering a really special experience called dinner under the stars. This option offers dinner + visit to the observatory. The views from the top of the Tibidabo over the city of Barcelona are amazing and a really romantic venue for a dinner.

 

And finally, another observatory dating also from 1904, the Observatori de l’Ebre. It was founded to study the relationship between the Sun and the Earth. They are currently offering visits to share the research they are doing, including a visit to their impressive collection of modern and antique equipment.

 

We are ready to enjoy the starts. What about you? Do you already know which observatory will you visit? Don’t forget to share the experience with us.


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