Home » Catania Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OACT)

Catania Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OACT)

The Space Weather activity at Catania Astrophysical Observatory (OACT) concerns the Physics of the Sun and it is dedicated to three main aspects:

  • The patrol of the solar activity in the Photosphere and Chromosphere
  • The development of new space and ground based telescopes
  • The scientific research

The program for the patrol of the solar activity is performed by means of an equatorial spar equipped with:

  • a Cook refractor (15/2230 mm) used to make drawings of sunspot groups from visual observations;
  • a 150-mm refractor (2300 mm focal length) feeding a Zeiss Hα Lyot filter (bandwidth of 2.5 or 5.0 nm) and a CCD characterized by an array size of 2200 x 2200 pixel, a pixel size of 12 x 12 micron and a digital resolution of 16 bits.

The program performed by means of these instruments includes: daily drawing of sunspots and pores by projection of the Sun; digital image acquisitions (every 10 min) in the Halpha line center (656.28 nm), besides than monitoring of transient phenomena, like flares and active prominences; digital image acquisition in the continuum at 656.78 nm (every hour).

These data are provided in near real time to the ESA Space Weather (SWE) Data Centre (http://swe.ssa.esa.int). The objective of the ESA SWE Data Centre is to support Europe’s independent utilization of, and access to, space through the provision of timely and accurate information regarding the space environment, and particularly regarding hazards to infrastructure in orbit and on the ground.

The INAF-OACt is involved in several projects dedicated to the development of new space and ground based telescopes for the observations of the Sun in the next future.

In particular, INAF-OACt is involved in the design of the 4-meter European Solar Telescope (EST) and in the definition of the scientific requirements of METIS, the coronagraph onboard of Solar Orbiter.

European Solar Telescope (EST)
METIS, the coronagraph onboard the Solar Orbiter Satellite










The scientific research activity regards the following topics:

  • Flares, filament eruptions and CMEs: energy storage, triggering and forecasting
  • Emergence of the magnetic flux in the solar atmosphere
  • Transport of magnetic helicity from the convection zone to the corona
  • Properties of the source regions of the solar wind
  • Interaction between the solar ejected plasma and the heliosphere

These studies are based on the analysis of space and ground based telescopes observing the Sun at different wavelengths and in different layers of the solar atmosphere (DST, SST, YOHKOH, SOHO, TRACE, STEREO, SDO, HINODE, IRIS).

This activity is also supported by several projects: F-Chroma (FP7 founded by the EC), Solarnet (FP7 founded by the EC) and PRIN 2014 (founded by INAF).

Institute web page

Group web page

Contact person: Paolo Romano