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For observation and taking pictures in Sicily you can find areas where the light pollution is acceptable. You need to go as far away as possible from the cities of course. Before having a permanent observatory, I choosed between various locations according to the humidity and wind conditions. The wind is always a factor, every day of the year, but fortunately in the heat of the summer it diminishes to the point of disappearing completely.

In the summer months I make my visual observations from the South face of Etna, in the region of Tarderia, 750 m above sea level. Even though it's about 20 km away from Catania, a city with very high levels of light pollution, in an averagely clear evening the Milky Way is quite visible.
From when I started to take pictures with the CCD I noticed that very often the seeing left a lot to be desired, because of the humidity brought by the Scirocco, and due to the woods nearby. In fact in the first part of the evening the heat rising from the earth towards the atmosphere produces the inevitable turbulence due to ascending currents. The situation improves in the second half of the night, when the temperatures stabilize.

Due to the position in regards to the city, which is found to the south, nearly all the constellations are under the celestial equator, especially the summer ones, are barely visible. Being at a latitude of 37 ° I can successfully photograph the most beautiful objects of the southern constellations, but only if there is no light rising from that direction.
But, in general terms, my country's light pollution situation is really similar to the rest of European countryside observing sites, except several very small countryside locations.

Some of my friends from the astronomy club I belong to told me about Franchetto, a place in the middle of corn fields in the centre of the Catanian Flats about 40 km from the coast, The summer sky is quite dark, and the Milky Way is easily seen from Cassiopeia to the Corona Australis.
From here I successfully shot my first pictures of the constellation of Sagittarius even though I was only 100 metres above sea level! Some of the most beautiful images I got from Franchetto are: M31, M42 and M81.
Dawn on 25 May 2003, with the instruments against a backdrop of Enta and it's ever present "plume of smoke"
Panoramic view of the flats of Franchetto in Spring

Mount Soro, 1,850 meters above sea level, is the highest peak of the Nebro Mountains. Far from densly populated cities and towns, it's probably the place with the clearest and blackest sky in the whole of Sicily. If you live in this area, it really is worth paying a visit. With a pair of binoculars Fujnon 7x50 I managed to see the furthest away arms of the Andromeda galaxy M31. From here I shot the galaxy NGC 891.

At sunset the clouds can be found below the horizon, and while to the west the light is still clear, high up the sky is already dark blue with a bright moon.

Panoramic 180° view of Monte Soro, with Etna volcan in the background, in the right side of image.



Observing spot on the Nebrodi Mountains, near Monte Soro, along the way between Cesarò and San Fratello.


A moments fun in the Nebrodi Mouintains with acrobatic kites, some hours before mounting the instruments.
The northern face of Etna is far enough away from the city, which is found to the south of the volcano. Here at 1,500 m above sea level immersed in the luxurious pine forests of Linguaglossa, there's an old building which belonged to the forest rangers, the Pitarrone Barracks, where the Catania Group of Astrophiles organise astronomical camps once or twice a year usually in the summer/autumn period.
Undergrowth of the Linguaglossa pine forests
It's not unusual that in mid-summer, when the rest of sicily hasn't seen a drop of water for months, a morning storm makes us work overtime to cover the instruments.

First official outing with the BRC-250 on the AstroPhysics 1200 mount on a camp with the Gruppo Astrofili Catanesiin July 2005. In that evening I shot subjects such as Barnard 150 nebula and 52 Cygni Deep Veil.


The province of Enna lies in the geographical centre of Sicily. Here the sea is 100's or more of Km away and the air is quite dry. Because it's a mostly agricultural area, where grain is grown, in the period from May to September the vegetation is pretty dry. The percentage of humidity is therefore much loewer and the seeing therefore is much better.

Panoramic view of the east part of the province of Enna, with Etna volcan in the background.


The agricultural area of Morra, in the county of Assoro (EN) is where I as a boy, observed enthusiastically the summer sky. Here the night sky still suffers only a little from light pollution, because the towns are small, well spaced and there aren't many of them.

Nowadays I go back often with great pleasure, taking with me all my instruments and here I have shot many of my preferred astronomical pictures.
Panoramic view of Morra. The arrow shows the point where I usually set up my telescope.
The transportation and the mounting of the instruments is a real labour of love, but the satisfaction I get from it repays me many times over for my physical labour.

On the hill that can be found between the border of Enna and Messina provinces, I've found a lovely agriturismo (farmhouse accomodation) created from an old country house 'Le Querce di Cota' or The Oak of Cota. Here the sky is spectacular because the nearest town is Troina, about 5 km away. The other towns are around 20 km away. From here I got M101 galaxy, globular cluster M13 and the mysterious VdB 152 nebula.

The place is friendly and hospitable and is also characterised by excellent traditional cooking! It's possible to book two rooms on the ground floor in front of the lawn where the equipment can be set up. If you go with the telescope on a night where there's no banquets organised the proprieters will even turn out the outside lighting.

My telescope set up in the courtyard of the agriturismo 'Le Querce di Cota' - Troina.