On top of the mathametics building of the Universidad de La Habana, a picturesque structure in itself, is a small dome containing this (150-mm or 6", by my estimate) refractor, built in the US by Perkin-Elmer in 1948. It has occasionally been used to support the few classes in astronomy at the University, but upkeep has become more difficult due to unavailability of spare parts as well as the overall economic situation in which astronomy becomes an educational luxury. There are efforts underway to build up significant public outreach for astronomy, using a building being remodelled as part of the reconstruction of Old Havana (Habana Vieja).
The view from the rooftop spans the seaside, old city, and much of the harbor of Havana (as you can tell from the Google Maps satellite view). Spectacular by day, but it doesn't help the view by night... Still, hundreds of people have trekked up four floors of stairs for public star parties organized by local amateurs (and amateurs have mostly kept the University telescope running for years). These pictures were taken during an exchange visit set up as part of the University of Alabama's "Cuba Project".
Last changes: 05/2007 © 2007