THE STELLAR LIGHTHOUSE: "astronomy under the clouds"

"SPAG-Monfragüe" remote controlled observatory: a brief introduction. (MPC J07)

At end of 2008, an observatory constructed and developed by Miguel Angel in Palazuelo  (a "dark" site location,near of the "Monfragüe National Park into a STARLIGHT Tourism destination....  was offered to me as a new observational main site for astrophotography.

For a "northern" guy like me,(Vargas,Cantabria) fighting along many months with completely overcast skies and rainy days (north of Spain is considered as "Atlantic climate" ) ..astrophotography was a nightmare..

When Miguel Angel kindly suggested me the possibility of  translate and install there my equipment....literally..the "sky was opened "  to me . Monfragüe is considered as "Mediterranean climate" and statistically..more clear nights

Monfragüe area is about 500km from Vargas..so managing and controlling the observatory over Internet was a MUST...Relating here the difficulties, tasks, hours and hours of testing hardware and software isn´t possible. Miguel Angel invested many days of hard work...

Today...the SPAG-Monfragüe observatory is a reality . The observatory is opened remotely at 500Km many nights every month, mount and CCD powered ON..and many astrophotography sessions (hopefully) will be made in a near future..

Up-to-date..the observatory is considered  "ROBOTIC"..just programming imaging sequences at home...

Talon6 complete security observatory (dome/roll-roof) system : Simply: The best safety system for robotic-remote observatories. !!!.  It can manage open/close roofs,park mount, check any safety condition under different problems ( cloud / rain,electricity fails,computer hangs out,etc..)

 My imaging skill has been improved 100% with this system. I recommend to "click" at  Talon6 above  link and read full documentation.

AAGCloudwatcher as a cloud detector,a very useful tool.ASCOM compatible and working perfectly with automation programms .

SQM-LE Unihedron. Sky quality meter..A nice tool to measure "sky luminosity".in magnitudes per square/arcseconds or NELM (naked eye limiting magnitude) .A nice approach to choose best imaging nights.

Here you can see some brief  VIDEOS taken past February 2009 with some minimal functional aspects of the observatory. The scope used was a Pentax for first remote movement test ( operator sited at 500 kilometers) of  mount, roofs,programms,etc..

VIDEO 1- Open/close roof by means of SMS messages (cellular phone) as safety back-up

VIDEO 2 - Basic first movement tests, software,webcam..etc