A Saudi Arabian university is interested in acquiring the Astronomical Observatory of Majorca complex in Costitx. A lawyer representing the university says that it is in discussions with a tourism business in London, although nothing has as yet been signed. The university, it would seem, would establish an observation faculty at the complex. Under the terms of its sale, the complex could have complementary activities, such as accommodation.
Another interested party is a Catalonian hotel group, Oriente Medio, which would like to build a hotel for astronomical observation. Any project envisaged by a potential buyer would have to maintain the current scientific use. The final decision on the sale would be up to the administrators who have been handling the affairs of the bankrupt observatory, which is on the market for 1.7 million euros.
The director of the observatory, Salvador Sánchez, is not saying anything about possible offers. "I am unable to make any statements about commercial matters," although he insists that the observatory is still active. He takes issue with what the Council of Majorca vice-president, Francesc Miralles, has said about the facilities at the observatory having been closed down. "That's not true."
Antoni Salas, the mayor of Costitx, stresses the importance of continuing the observatory's work. The observatory should remain "a leading institution in astronomical research".
The site covers more than 3,000 square metres. There is a two-storey building with three observation domes plus the "Astroplai" of seven automated domes, the Planetarium, the Astropark and the cafeteria-restaurants. Included in the sale is all the equipment and even a collection of meteors.
* As reported in the Bulletin recently, astronomical tourism has been developed to good effect in various parts of Spain, especially the Canaries. The Costitx site doesn't have the same benefit of mountain location as, for example, the observatories in Tenerife and La Palma, but it does have the advantage of some thirty years of reputation in astronomical discovery.
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