Summer Solstice at El Verde

This evening will be the solstice, when the sun appears at its farthest north in the sky. For the northern hemisphere, it’s the longest day of the year. (And for the southern hemisphere, it’s the longest night of the year.) La Palma has several archaeological sites which mark the solstice. One of the easiest to get to is El Verde in El Paso. Park beside the cemetery and follow the…

June 20, 2016
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Gran Teleascopio Canarias sets a new record

June 9, 2016

Gran Telescopio Canarias on La Palma is the biggest telescope in the world * and it’s just photographed the faintest thing even photographed from the earth’s surface. The photograph above shows a faint halo of stars around Galaxy UGC0180, 500 million light years away. This sort of halo was predicted by theoretical models, but it’s been extremely hard to photograph because the halos are very, very faint. It’s ten times fainter than…

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The Roque in Winter

Most of La Palma has good weather nearly all year. But the observatory is up at 2400 m (almost 8,000 ft) and occasionally in winter dramatic storms come howling in, dump half a metre of snow overnight, and disappear almost as fast as they came. If you’re planning a trip to the observatory between November and March, be sure to check the road conditions before you leave. You can do…

November 28, 2015
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Live Streaming the Eclipse

A total eclipse of the moon
September 27, 2015

The Canarian Tourist Board will be live streaming tonight’s lunar eclipse at http://www.thebestclimateintheworld.com/geminidas starting just after 2 am Canarian (and London) time. Just to remind you, the moon is at almost its closest approach to the Earth, so it’s will be a supermoon – noticeably bigger than usual. And at about 6:30 pm, the moon should rise behind the shadow of the island on the sea. If you’re on La…

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MAGIC Prime Focus

The MAGIC Telescope
August 28, 2015

The MAGIC telescope has the biggest telescope mirrors in the world. I’ve always wanted to get up the green tower to prime focus, where the light is focused onto the camera. I finally got up there in July 2014. Even better, my friend Carolin Liefke (from the Max Plank Institute) had a camera with a fisheye lens and the skill to make good use of it. You can read more…

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