C2PU offers an infrastructure devoted to the immersion of students in the experimental environment in astrophysics and geophysics. C2PU stands in French for “Centre Pédagogique Planète et Univers”, that is : “Center for Pedagogy in Planet and Universe sciences”. It is a project both for pedagogic and research purposes. Concerning the astrophysical part, it relies on the renewal of two 1-meter diameter telescopes. These two telescopes are located in southern France, 50 km away from the city of Nice, on the so-called “Calern Plateau”. The coordinates are 6o 55′ 22′′ East in longitude, 43o 45′ 14′′ North in latitude and 1261 m in elevation. The average number of clear nights per year is around 200 and the sky background level ranges from 20.7 to 21 magnitudes per square arc-seconds. One of the telescopes is planed to be operated by remote access in order to offer undergraduate classes the possibility to participate to sky observations after several sessions of teacher training in the framework of the EduCosmos project, the astronomical counterpart of the French educational outreach project “Sismo à l’Ecole” (http://educosmos.oca.eu/). This remote access capability will also be offered to national and international universities in partnership with C2PU.
The center offers a capacity of 28 sleeping arrangements, a restaurant, a visio-conference facility and a computer room with high speed internet connection which allows a complete immersion of the students during their stay at the observatory. Groups can be driven to the center with a van owned by the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur (OCA).
The Calern Plateau and its surrounding display several geophysical and geological structures of interest,. They can be used both for experimental and practical lectures. Several unique geological sites are easily reachable from the Observatory. Both astrophysical and geophysical practical trainings can be combined within a common infrastructure.
The project is supported by the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis (UNS), the Collège de France (CdF), the Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes and the Conseil Régional Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.
A film presenting the project (in French) is available here: