July 21st 2020
Three ambitious legacy surveys and next generation instrumentation projects define the Calar Alto Observatory science and technology horizon for the coming decade.
The Institute of Astrophysics in Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) co-leads the two designs pre-selected for the future instrument on the 3.5-m telescope.
CARMENES will be upgraded to extend its search for potentially habitable planets.
The Science Advisory Committee of the Calar Alto Observatory, composed of internationally recognized experts in various areas of astrophysics, has selected legacy projects and proposals for next generation instrumentation that define the scientific and technological lines of the observatory in the years to come.
April 14th 2020
The Carlos III health institute, from the Spanish Research and Innovation Ministry, provides half a million euros to create a prototype allowing a quick analysis without touching surfaces contaminated by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, by combining image acquisition systems in the whole optical and terahertz (submillimetric) ranges and analyzing them with artificial intelligence.
Researchers participating in the project are from the higher technical school of engineering at Seville university, Virgen del Rocio university hospital, Seville biomedical institute, Andalusian network for the design and translation of advanced therapies, TEDAX (EOD) from the national police force, joint research center from the EU commission and technological corporation of Andalusia, and Calar Alto Observatory as well.
February 12th 2020
Using the Calar Alto Schmidt telescope remotely from Italy, a team from the Planetary Defence Office of the European Spatial Agency (ESA) managed to observe the Solar Orbiter satellite and booster two days after launch from Cape Canaveral. The observations were obtained in coordination with ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre (NEOCC).
Despite a very bright (nearly Full) Moon these days, the quality of the sky and of the telescopes at Calar Alto has allowed Marco Micheli, an astronomer at ESA, to recover Solar Orbiter -- a joint ESA/NASA mission -- well after its launch in the morning of February 10, 2020 with an Atlas V rocket. After the ESOC's Mission Analysis team computed an accurate post-launch trajectory, Micheli pointed the Schmidt telescope to the expected position, and Solar Orbiter was indeed recovered in the field.
March 30th 2020
To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest observatory on the European mainland has taken protective and restrictive actions for its staff and visitors, adapting its working model in a responsible way. The Calar Alto team is working mostly remotely to be ready to resume its usual operations once the current preventive measures will not be needed anymore.
The Calar Alto observatory has been adapting its working conditions to the circumstances of the pandemic hitting the country (and in some cases, anticipating the actions), while insuring the health and safety of its people as well as the integrity of its systems.
January 7th 2020
A group from the Basque Country University has followed-up for one year a series of convective storms inside a cyclone on Jupiter and, by means of simulations, found that storms of this size could only have been generated by water condensation.
In February 2018, a series of convective storms occurred on Jupiter. They were storms with strong vertical movements and great precipitation development that were so powerful that they completely changed the region where they took place: a cyclone 28,000 km long, called a ghost cyclone -- owing to its weak contrast which renders it difficult to make out in observations from the Earth, although it could be observed from Calar Alto.
March 6th 2020
Calar Alto Observatory starts its energy transition thanks to a ERDF (European Regional Development Fund)-supported project.
Using biomass and solar energy will considerably reduce the ecological imprint of the observatory, as well as the costs associated to its energy needs.
The Calar Alto Observatory, the largest optical observatory in mainland Europe, has been, since its establishment in 1973, one of the motors of the development of Spanish astrophysics. Located in the Sierra de los Filabres (Almería), at an altitude of over two thousand and one hundred meters, the observatory faces considerable needs in energy derived from its situation in a high mountain range and its technological features. In the next months, thanks to a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF/FEDER), the observatory will partially replace its energy sources to reduce its ecological footprint.
December 11th 2019
Astronomers have detected hints of a satellite orbiting Varuna, an object located beyond Neptune, after observing it for nearly 15 years, in particular from Calar Alto.
Beyond Neptune, the eighth and last planet in the Solar System, orbit many Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Lying at large distances (more than 30 times the one of the Earth to the Sun), TNOs preserve
fossil records of the nebula that gave birth to the Solar System. To date, about 2,500 TNOs have been discovered; among them, Varuna, a large TNO of nearly 1000 km in its longest (elongated) shape.