GALÁCTICA is the Centre for Astronomy, Education and Outreach located in the village of Arcos de las Salinas, Teruel. The Centre, sponsored by CEFCA, aims to foster the understanding of astronomy among the general public by providing access to professional quality facilities for environmental and culture education, scientific and outreach purposes.
The Centre is located near the Observatorio Astrofisico de Javalambre on a site notable for the excellent quality of its atmosphere and the absence of light pollution, thus providing ideal conditions for the pursuit of astronomical activities.
The project, as a whole, has been designed to help implement a number of programmes concerning the practice of astronomy and the dissemination of knowledge at all levels, from school to university, and for the benefit of amateur astronomers and the general public alike. To these ends, GALÁCTICA provides dedicated facilities to help carry out outreach programmes, workshops, courses, student training and field work by visitors.
The facilities provided by GALÁCTICA include a network of nine telescope buildings, used to carry out astronomical observations, as well as a number of control rooms used for the operation of the telescopes and for data analysis.
Three out of the nine telescope buildings are devoted to housing semi-professional telescopes intended for general use: one solar telescope with a 15 cm aperture and two night telescopes with apertures of 40 and 80 cm respectively. The other six telescope buildings are ready prepared for visitors to install their own telescopes and instruments.
Additionally, the main building includes an 100-seat conference room with projection and broadcasting facilities, an exhibition hall and several workspaces and meeting rooms.
The GALACTICA Solar Telescope (GTS) is an apochromatic refractor telescope with a 15 cm aperture and a nominal focal ratio of f/7. The telescope is equipped with a 2048 x 2048 pixel high resolution camera and can operate in two different observing modes. The one with the wider field of view is capable of acquiring images of the entire solar disk. The other mode permits more detailed observations covering a field of view of about 1/3 of the diameter of the solar disk. Aditionally, the telescope has two Fabry-Perot filters centered on the Halpha and Ca II K spectral lines which make it possible to observe detailed features of the solar chromosphere: sunspots, prominences, filaments and other magnetic field structures.
The GT80 telescope is an 80 cm reflecting telescope with an f/7 focal ratio. It uses an altazimuthal mount in a Ritchey-Chrétien configuration with two separate Nasmyth foci. The design incorporates direct drive technology that permits the high precision tracking of objects in the sky and therefore long exposure observations. The CCD camera mounted on the telescope has a sensor of 2048 x 2048 pixel, a 0.55"/pixel scale and a 18.7' x 18.7' field of view. Five Sloan filters (u, g, r ,i, z) with which to make observations are also available.
The GT40 telescope is a 40 cm Schmidt-Cassegrain ACF telescope with an f/10 focal ratio and an altazimuthal mount. The telescope is equipped with an SBIG ST8 camera and an SBIG DSS-7 spectrometer covering the 400-810 nm range. With these instruments, the telescope is suitable for the spectroscopic observation of deep sky objects, the study and characterization of stars and wide objects, such as galaxies and nebulae, and for redshift meassurements.
All the construction work for Galáctica was completed in 2015. This includes the main building and the auxiliary buildings housing the telescopes. Installation of the nine domes of Galáctica finished in June 2020.
At the time of writing, GT80 and GTS, and their instrumentation have been installed in their buildings. GT40 and its spectrograph will be installed soon.
This project is funded by the Fondo de Inversiones de Teruel, supported by both the Government of Spain (50%) and the Government of Aragón (50%).