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Fabra Observatory

In order to improve the astronomical activity of the Academy, and thanks to a donation from Camil Fabra i Fontanills - the first Marquis of Alella, the Academy in 1902 decided to construct the Fabra Observatory. Following a project written by the meteorolog Eduard Fontserè i Riba the observatory was finished in 1904 and inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII. The pre-modernistic building was designed by Josep Domènech i Estapà on the top slopes of the Collserola mountains (close to Tibidabo) becoming and an important part of the skyline of Barcelona. The equipment was a donation from the Barcelona City Council and the Deputation of the province of Barcelona . The Fabra Observatory has run without interruption since its inauguration. The observation of the new meridian telescope replaced the role of the one at the Ramblas central site until the official time was established by means of broadcast signals.

The first Director was Josep Comas i Solà, who discovered up to 11 new minor planets – asteroids – giving them names such as Barcelona, Gothlandia (allegorical for Catalonia), Hispania … and two comets, one of which, the Comas Solà, is periodical. One crater on the Moon and another on Mars are named by Comas also. Furthermore, Comas was the first person to observe and describe the presence of an atmosphere on Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, on the night of August 13th 1907. The result was published in Astronomische Nachrichten and it took forty years to be confirmed by spectroscopic methods.

The Observatory has three sections:

The Astronomical Section, which is devoted to astrometry – position setting– of small planets and comets.

The Meteorological Section which collaborates with the Catalan Meteorological Service and the Spanish Meteorological Institute: its observational series, taken at the same place which has suffered little changes in the surroundings, are particularly important because it spans a period of more then 100 years without interruptions.

The Seismological Section, devoted to regional seismology, can record also the largest earthquakes around the world: it also collaborates with the Catalan Institute of Cartography and has a second station at some 60 kilometres away from Barcelona (Fontmartina, Montseny). Recently, in order to avoid the luminosity of the city of Barcelona the Academy has installed a new robotic telescope in the Pre-Pyrenees (Montsec Sierra), in cooperation with the Royal Observatory of the Spanish Navy (ROA) in San Fernando (Cádiz). The Telescope Fabra ROA at Montsec (TFRM) is a implemented with a NASA Baker-Nunn camera which is an excellent instrument for many different kinds of observations.

Observatori Fabra from Marc Subirana on Vimeo.