Talks continue on the future of the observatory in Ticino – a move is likely

MONTE GENEROSO

The transfer of the building to the Gurten has been discussed – we discussed more with Lorenz Brügger, director of the Monte Generoso SA railway

Talks continue on the future of the observatory in Ticino – a move is likely
The structure was inaugurated in 1996. © Fotopedrazzini.ch

Talks continue on the future of the observatory in Ticino – a move is likely

The structure was inaugurated in 1996. © Fotopedrazzini.ch

The observatory on Monte Generoso, owned by FMG (Ferrovia Monte Generoso SA), is likely to move to Gurten in Bern - discussion has been underway for many months bringing disappointment from the Cantonal Group of physics high school teachers at the decision who highlight the academic value of keeping it in place along with the students of the Liceo di Mendrisio who have launched a petition.

FMG recently received applications ideas to "save" the largest telescope in Ticino. The proposals were drawn up by the departments at Mendrisio, Castel San Pietro, Breggia and Chiasso in collaboration with the Regional Development Authority, the tourist board, and a group of astronomy enthusiasts. The letter proposes help (also public) for the current management of the scientific station and a contribution from a promotional point of view. We talked about it with Lorenz Brügger, director of the Monte Generoso SA railway.

Director Brügger, can you explain the reasons behind this decision?

In 2019 we defined a totally new strategy for the Monte Generoso SA railway, a strategy that spans five-years. With this in mind, success factors and strategic themes have been defined (the Fiore di pietra, the railway, the campsite, the steam train, the church on the Generoso, the Bellavista buvette and the old hotel des Alpes). The observatory is no longer included in this list: an exclusion that we have carefully checked (trend in the volume of visitors, social change, potential for the future, costs, other observers in Ticino, etc.). We took this strategic decision by identifying an optimal solution in Gurten, a park surrounded by greenery also belonging to the Migros universe. We discussed in depth with many interest groups in Ticino and within the Migros universe: the Bern hill option proved to be ideal in terms of potential, partner and location. The enthusiasm for the project and its implementation is very great, and in the end the decision was easy to make. The important thing is that the history of the observatory can continue.

Not everyone is satisfied with this "move": Municipalities, politicians, physics teachers and students have petitioned so that the building can remain on the Generoso. You recently received a letter with several proposals for maintaining the observatory in Ticino.

The dialogue is not a recent one - there have been preliminary talks with many sectors. We received their letters and we will talk about it at the June Board meeting. We understand that not everyone accepts our decision. For us to have the absolute priority is the sustainable development of the Monte Generoso SA Railway, supported by the Migros Cultural Percentage: this means that we want to offer safe jobs and to finance future investments. This in turn translates into a clear orientation of the company and a focus on strategic success factors. We would like to point out that around 50 million francs have been invested in the last ten years between the construction of the Fiore di pietra and the rehabilitation of the railway line. A figure that remained 90% in Ticino respectively in Mendrisiotto ".

How much would the transfer to Gurten cost?

We are mainly interested in the future and long-term prospects of the observatory. It is not the costs that are prioritised, but the future potential. The transfer is however feasible under absolutely bearable conditions.

Would the Bernese sky guarantee the same "conditions" as the Ticino one? In other words, would the use of the observatory on the Gurten make astronomical sense?

The new location could be even more suitable. The "location" on Monte Generoso is considered not optimal even by our astronomers, given the strong impact of light pollution from Milan.

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