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First 100% students astronomical observatory

carried by UPS in Space association from University Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier – France

About the project


Astronomical Observatory, carried by UPS in Space association

from University Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier – France


The Project in 8 essential points

  • Object : The building of Félicette, a 100% students astronomical observatory
  • Goal : Leading scientific surveys in collaboration with scientists and our partners
  • Observatory Management : UPS in Space, astronomical student organization
  • For Who : Organization members, students, and pupils from our partner schools
  • Equipment : 3.90 m diameter dome, 500 mm diameter telescope, motorized frame able to carry a 150 kg payload
  • Place : campus of Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier
  • Date : Q1 2021
  • Participating Financing : 15 000 € (roughly 10% of observatory budget)



Who is Félicette ?

October 18th 1963, a French rocket named Véronique took off from Algerian Sahara to go in space. On board? The cat Félicette, she survived and she came back safe to Earth. Félicette flight data served well French engineers to understand inhabited spaceflight, and today 10 French astronauts have benefit from this flight experience. Today France is one of the greatest powers in space exploration, but is also very strong in astronomy. To the point that the starry sky is part of our culture, our greatest questions and our stronger passions. UPS in Space passion is to answer at these questions.

Within UPS in Space, we like cats, stars, planets, and we love to talk about that. For 10 years, the student organisation based in Toulouse organise observations of the Sun, the Moon, planets, stars or all other objects of the Universe we can watch. But we are also potential scientists! For us, to see the Universe and its beauty is amazing, but studying is much more fascinating. So, that’s with this spirit mixed of curiosity and sharing that, for more than 5 years, UPS in Space carry the project of student astronomical observatory named Félicette, in memory of our little space adventurer.




Where and When ?

The observatory will be set up at the top of a future building inside the campus of the university. The dome will be driven from our locale two stages below. The building will be set inside the campus, which reduce its lighting to decrease light pollution.

The building will be finished at the end of 2020. We take a few months to learn to manipulate the equipment, to calibrate it and to test it. Finally, the observatory should open its doors at Q1 2021.



What Science will we do ?

In France, it is quite difficult for a student to access and use a observatory, if he wants to study an object in the sky to complete a personal work, or for his course. We want to change that and make astronomy more accessible.


Our semi-pro equipment will show performances hard to compete with in amateur science. Varied astronomy fields:

  • Exoplanet confirmation (transit method)

  • Asteroid, comet and kilonovae detection

  • Astrophotography (sky objects imagery with special filters)

  • Study of sky objects composition

  • Study of galaxies velocity, quasars, nebula by photometry or spectroscopy

  • Expansion of the Universe

  • Scientific mediation



Who will benefit from our observatory?

The firsts to use our observatory will be students of Toulouse and the members of UPS in Space (UPS in Space is open to everybody, student or not). The observatory will also be open to secondary school students, by partnership. The students not based in Toulouse may use our observatory anyhow, the equipment can be driven remotely. We want to let the youngest potential scientists use our telescope and study the sky. We want them to love space and to present their own studies of the sky!

The project Félicette aims to give proximity between a curious mind and the equipment to satisfy it. You want to make science? We help you doing it!

The observation sessions will be supervised by our members, and sometimes with the help of researchers and PHD student, especially from IRAP (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie) and from OMP (Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées). These sessions will help students and young persons to gain skills compatible to their course, and to learn the scientific care.



Which instrumentation ?

  • The cupola : a motorized 3.90 m diameter dome fully automatic, able to be synchronised with the telescope (Gardigiano – Venice – Italie via Gambato)

  • The telescope : Dall-Kirkham type with a 500 mm diameter and 3500 mm focal length (Sarcedo – Vicenza – Italie via Officina Stellare)

  • The telescope : Dall-Kirkham type with a 500 mm diameter and 3500 mm focal length (Sarcedo – Vicenza – Italie via Officina Stellare)




Why 15 000 € ?

The complete budget is between 110 00 € and 150 000 €, including:

  • 54 000 € for the dome (taken care by the university)
  • 45 000 € for the telescope
  • 25 000 € for the frame

The remaining budget is for imagery, automatization, software and accessory equipment. We hope to get 15 000 € by participative financing to cover a part of the purchase of the frame.

Joining the participative financing, UPS in Space is asking grants from government, local authorities, Occitanie region, and scientific, industrial actors, foundations, etc.



Are we ready ?

Is a student amateur astronomers organisation ready to manage this structure? Yes, we are! The association management is rigorous and the club is getting ready to use the observatory. By a partnership between UPS in Space, the university and OMP, all the members who will use the telescope will be trained at the Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre by professional astronomers and technicians. Furthermore, the dome is designed to be easy-used. Transfer books and rules and regulations will be established.

What are the funds for?

About the project owner

We are UPS in Space, University Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier student astronomy club. We undertake the first 100% french student astronomical observatory.

Our principal activities are day/night observations on campus as well as talks on astrophysical and spatial topics presents by researchers espeacially from Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (replays on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-eOAS94_plWoGSsiwa34yg)

We do scientific mediation throw various activities in Toulouse area for example stands and workshops at Toulouse - Cité de l'Espace and at Toulouse universities.

We organize amongst others tours at Jolimont's Observatory with Toulouse Popular Astronomy Society and especially at Pic du Midi de Bigorre Obsevatory.


Our partenerships


Our supports

Madam Minister Frédérique Vidal, French Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation.

Jean-Pierre Vinel, President of University Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier.

Jean-Baptiste Desbois, President of Toulouse "Cité de l'Espace".

Frank de Winne, Head of ESA's European Astronaut Centre (EAC).

As well as laboratories, associations, shops, companies, media agency and tourist site next:

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