Almond Blossom in Garaf??a and Puntagorda

Almond blossom around an old barn with a dragon tree. Garafia, La Palma island
January 19, 2016

The almond trees have blossomed early this year. Most of the almond trees are in Puntagorda and Garafía, although there’s a good number in El Paso too. They produce small, rather bitter almonds which are out of fashion and don’t fetch a good price, (although I enjoy a saucer of toasted almonds with a glass of wine) so that most people don’t harvest the almonds, or only harvest for their…

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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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The Swedish Solar Tower

The Swedish Solar Tower, Roque de Los Muchachos observatory
July 1, 2014

Two of the fourteen telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory are solar telescopes — highly specialised to observe our own sun. This is the Swedish Solar Telescope, which was the first telescope built on the Roque. It’s currently the best solar telescope in the world since they added the new adaptive optics in 2005. (Adaptive optics compensate for air turbulence.) It can resolve details of the sun’s surface…

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SuperWASP, the Planet-Hunter

Superwasp open for business, Roque de Los Muchachos
April 4, 2014

Most of the telescopes at the observatory here look spectacular even from the outside. SuperWASP looks like a big garden shed. It’s the white thing at bottom left. Even when it opens up, it still doesn’t look like a professional telescope. To me, it looks more like a small missile launcher. The equipment isn’t that spectacular either. As modern telescopes go, it was built for peanuts. It has eight cameras,…

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The highest point of La Palma

June 26, 2012

Looking east towards Tenerife. The highest point of the island is the Roque de Los Muchachos, at 2,426m (8,000 ft) above sea level. Most days of the year, the view is spectacular. Even when it’s raining at sea-level, the summit is nearly always above the clouds. In fact, you can often look down on a sea of clouds surrounding the island. Of course that’s one reason why the observatory is…

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Starry Skies over La Palma

The Roque at night by Manel Soria
April 19, 2012

Manel Soria, who gave a talk on night photography at FotoNature 2012 now has amazing photos of La Palma on his website at www.frikosal.net The photo above was taken in the observatory, looking north. From left to right you can see the empty dome of the Swedish 60 cm telescope, MAGIC II (on the horizon, some distance below), the Superwasp Follow-up Telescope (closer), the Liverpool telescope (peeking from behind the ridge),…

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