Galaxy M51 taken with the Isaac Newton Telescope and Wide Field Camera by Simon Driver

Starlit Skies

  There’s a really simple reason why the Royal Greenwich Observatory moved their telescopes here. It’s one of the three best places in the world for astronomy. The observatory was founded in 1675 by Charles II of England – hence the “royal” for £520 (£20 over budget!). It was the first purpose-built scientific research facility in Britain. At the time, Greenwich was a great place to build it – away…

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Sunrise behind the Roque de Los Muchachos at the equinox

Equinox sunrise behind the Roque

  A remarkable number of the archeological sites on La Palma line up with astronomical calendar events: particularly sunrise or sunset at the solstice or equinox, and the rising and setting of the star Canopus. In 2013 I went with a group of friends to one of these sites to see the sun rise behind the highest point of the island, the Roque de Los Muchachos. It meant an early start,…

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The Scenic route over the ridge

Los Llanos del Jable, with El Paso behind The main roads on La Palma form a rough figure 8, with the main east-west road being the LP2 from Santa Cruz to Los Llanos, through the tunnel. But whenever I’ve got time, I like to take the scenic route, the LP203. This winds up through the heather and bayberry forest, then pine forest, past the barbecue and picnic areas at Pared…

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Gofio

Gofio is sort-of cooked flour (you toast the grains before you grind them) and it’s been a staple of the Canarian diet since pre-hispanic times. In principle, you can use just about any grain, although the commonest ones are wheat and maize. In times of famine, there’s even a fern root you can use, although I believe it’s very bitter, and not something you would chose to eat if there…

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