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Astronomical observatory and planetarium

Astronomical observatory and planetarium

The Astronomical Observatory of the Aosta Valley autonomous Region, completed in 2003, is a unique facility for the features and the variety of instruments it offers.

The observatory, which also includes a meteorological station, features a helium physics laboratory, a computer room, an educational program including two indoor exhibits and a “Sentiero dei Pianeti” (Planet Pathway) made up of a series of illustrated panels depicting the Solar System.
The astronomical instrumentation installed in the Observatory is among the most important in Italy and in Europe. All equipment is networked so as to manage multiple devices from a single workstation while keeping a view on different astronomical objects at the same time.
This modern equipment allows for high level scientific research, educational activities for teachers and students, as well as quality astronomical popularization.

Scientific research
The Observatory collaborates with other national and international scientific bodies and is active in a number of important research projects:

Extra-solar system planets project: the goal of this project is to search for small radius planets around red dwarfs near the Sun.

Active galactic nuclei project: studies the light of galaxies billions of light years away through the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT) international consortium.

Asteroids Project: studies the composition, position and period of the asteroids of the Solar System.

Solar corona project: this project led to the development of an innovative tool designed for missions in space and tested during the total eclipses of the Sun in Libya (2006) and French Polynesia (2010).

Atlas research unit: basic research produces new knowledge and technologies that also find applications in other fields and the Observatory is the leading partner of the Atlas research unit for technology transfer.

Astronomy also involves other disciplines such as physics, mathematics and chemistry, and also involves history, geography and art.

Educational activities for schools of any level and order are also possible at the Observatory and the Planetarium: guided tours, daytime/nighttime observation activities as well as animation, practical-experimental and theoretical activities.

Popularizing astronomy
Reservations for guided tours required:

daytime visit(1 hour) – explanation of the research activities with description of the scientific equipment, direct observation of the Sun and of its spectrum in the helium physics laboratory and connection to the space probes of the NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) via the web.

nighttime visit (2 hours) – observation of the sky with the naked eye and by using telescopes from the educational terrace with description of the main constellations visible and of the celestial objects observed through a telescope.

Outdoor observation areas
The outdoor observation area arranged in the western part of the perimeter of the Observatory has been open to the public since January 2013 and consists of 12 plots each one 9 square metres large, protected from the light pollution of the valley. These areas can be used by individual amateur astronomers or by groups up to 30 people for daytime and nighttime observations of the sky with the naked eye (with the necessary protections in the case of solar observation), with one’s own equipment and for photo shooting.
All plots are perfectly flat and oriented with the diagonal parallel to the Earth’s meridian. The area features a LED lighting system and 3 electrical boxes, each with 12 power outlets. For costs and reservations, contact the Observatory’s secretariat offices.

Planetarium – virtual journey in the cosmos
The main entrance to the Planetarium is facing the road that crosses through the hamlet of Lignan, near the turn-off to Clemensod.
The projection room has 67 comfortable seats. The outer dome is 12 metres in diameter while the inner one, designed for the projection of the simulated sky and of informative films, has a 10 metre diameter.
The apparent motion of the starry vault can be reproduced in the Planetarium, promoting a true understanding of the Earth’s rotation and revolution effect through the real vision of the sky, or observing the sky at different eras and in different locations in terms of longitude and latitude. The sky projected on the dome is a computer simulation, created through the coordinated work in parallel of 6 computers. The operator controls the projection from a real console where two additional computers are operating as well.
Each show is a real virtual journey in the cosmos lasting an hour to discover the constellations in the sky at every season, admire planets, nebulas, galaxies in computer graphics and learn about the most interesting phenomena of physics connected to them.


Osservatorio Astronomico della Regione Autonoma Valle d’Aosta

Saint-Barthélemy – Località Lignan, 39 – 11020 NUS (AO) Telephone: (+39) 0165 770050


Visits at the Observatory
Guided daytime and/or nighttime tours (Sun observing), every day of the year except for Sundays and Mondays; reservation required.
From April 1st to August 31st: daytime 4.30 p.m. – nighttime 9.30 p.m.
From September 1st to March 31st: daytime 3 p.m. – nighttime 9 p.m.

Shows at the Planetarium
Reservation required.
From April 1st to August 31st: Saturdays at 3 p.m. and at 6 p.m.
From September 1st to March 31st: Saturdays at 4.30 p.m. and at 6 p.m.
During July, August and September, the Planetarium is open even on Sunday, with shows at 4.30 p.m. and at 6 p.m.
During July and August, shows are also viewed on Friday at 6 p.m.

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