Observatory Cerro Armazones (OCA)

Overview

Observatory Cerro Armazones (OCA) is located about 120km south of Antofagasta in the chilean Atacama Desert, at the foot of the Armazones mountain, a home to Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

OCA is a green observatory, powered mostly by solar panels and wind turbines. At the moment it’s home for 5 small telescopes:

IRIS (InfraRed Imaging System)
IRIS is an 80 cm alt-azimuth telescope with two Nasmyth foci that can be reached via a computer-controlled movable third mirror. IRIS is equipped with a 1 x 1 k infrared camera optimized for the NIR region; there are various broad and narrow band filters between 1.1 and 2.5 µ. The optical system provides a resolution of 0.74″/pixel and a field-of-view of 13’ x 13′; the limiting magnitude is about K ~ 16. Thus IRIS exceeds the capabilities of 2MASS.

VYSOS 16
VYSOS 16 is a 40 cm Coudé telescope on an equatorial fork mount. It is equipped with a SBIG 3072 x 2048 pixels CCD camera, providing a 41.2′ x 27.5′ field of view. The telescope is currently in a commissioning phase which will result in a fully robotic operation.

VYSOS 6
VYSOS6 A & B consists of two 15 cm refractor telescopes (Takahashi© TOA-150F Ortho-Apochromat Triplet) on a common German equatorial mount (Bisque Paramount ME™ Robotic Telescope System). Both telescopes are equipped with an Apogee Alta U16M 4096 x 4096 pixels CCD camera each, providing a 2°42′ x 2°42′ field of view in two filters simultaneously. There is a huge variety of broad and narrow band filters, including Johnson and Sloan filters. VYSOS 6 is operated robotically.

BEST II
BEST II is an automatic telescope with 25 cm aperture on a German equatorial mount, dedicated to photometric measurements of stellar intensity variations. The prime use of the system is robotic observational ground-based support of the COROT space mission.

Postdam telescope
It’s the newest from the “pack”, installed just in 2019. It has been being configured since and waits for its first light.

Two more telescopes – 1.5m and 0.8m – are going to be built in 2021-2023.

History

The construction started on September 13th, 2010. The fiber optic cable was completed in October 2010 and since then the observed data has been transmitted via the Internet.

The observatory has been built and operated jointly by the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) and the Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta (Chile) from its start till 2020, when it was taken over by Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (NCAC), Warsaw (Poland).

Details

  • Coordinates: latitude 24°35’53″S, longitude 70°11’47″W, and elevation 2817 m.
  • 100 solar panels with 130 watts each are installed and are sufficient to cover the entire current energy requirements of the observatory.
  • Water, transported to OCA from Paranal, is heated for cleaning and washing purposes, using thermal solar system.

Links and more info

Gallery
OCA on Wikipedia
YouTube