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The mountain station M.G. Fracastoro of the Catania Astrophysical Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mt. Etna volcano at Serra La Nave (1735 m a.s l).



It is about 30 km away from Catania and and 15 km from Nicolosi the last town on the road to Serra La Nave. The station, settled by prof. M. G. Fracastoro (director of Catania observatory from 1956 to 1968), started operating on June 1966. Its settlement marks the return of astronomy on Mt. Etna, after 80 years from the first installation of the Vincenzo Bellini observatory in 1880*. This new location is easier to reach and volcanic risk is much lower, but is still astronomically challenging. The sky quality is fairly good with more than 50% of clear nights, an average seeing of 2 arcsec and a sky brightness of V~20 mag/arcsec2.


* The Vincenzo Bellini observatory, was settled on 1880 at 2940 m a.s.l. at the base of Etna main crater. But, due to the lack of a car road and large snowfall in the winter it was operating for about a decade, summertime only. The building was destroyed by a lava flow on 1971 when was already used as volcanologic observatory.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 09:39