New Site

After deciding it was time to move from the Jalon Valley to re-home ICAstronomy to a custom built very dark facility, many months were spent researching all over Europe to find the best location.

Spain remained the obvious choice throughout due to many factors, but the year round climate and obviously already living here and operating our first site from here were the clinchers!

Next was the mission to find the best possible site and this is where it became tricky.

Altitude

This is not as easy as it sounds as there is a fine balance between being high enough and being too high.

For the best seeing you need to get above the first layer of atmosphere, but go too high and this introduces new problems such as frost, ice, snow etc.

Months can be lost due to bad weather and, in addition, the extreme cold can be an issue for all of the equipment.

So... our conclusion was to get above 1,000m but stay below 1,500m.

Dark Sky

This is obviously a factor, but was not top of our list - we spent way more time on researching the seeing.

Saying that we aimed for a site that would return a regular true SQM reading of over 20.0 and we have actually found a site that gives a consistant reading of over 21.

Seeing

This is the most important for us as Astroimagers - there is no point having a dark sky in an area that has a lot of rainfall or has regular high humidity as having dry air is extremely important.

Our new location is in a registered desert, in a valley that is very dry and it records one of the lowest rainfalls in Europe.

Final Location

Once all the painstaking research was done a decision was made a property was purchased and plans for the new complex have been submitted to the local townhall and to the Spanish central government.

This can be quite a lengthy process and, given that this is quite an unusual proposition, we always expected this to take some time.

The new location is about 14km from a small town called Oria.

Not that we payed much attention to dark sky maps, but this area is in the darkest band and has a radiance of 0.04 which is about as low as possible without living in a cave!!

The area is also home to the largest Observatory site in Spain and probably Europe - the Calar Alto complex - as well as a number of smaller commercial sites.

The position is great, the observatories will have a great 360° view, and the property has plenty of land to make this a great astro complex!

Our plan is to be powering the observatories by solar which will give our clients clean, spike free and constent energy.

This move is a major one and will be a lot of hard work for quite some time to come

Every consideration has been given in order to get the best possible site to enable us to be one of the premier remote telescope hosting sites, not only in Europe but the world.

It is not all about just supplying a dark site, its about building a relationship with our clients, providing a great service...

And just doing the best we can!!!!