A Visitor Centre for the Observatory, and Starmus 2016

The Sarmus debate, 2016 in the GTC dome
July 1, 2016

After 30 years, the Observatory at the Roque de Los Muchachos is finally going to have a visitor centre. I believe that the plans were finalised in 2008, and then put on hold because of the banking crisis. On Thursday, the first stone was laid, and it should be open in two years. Thursday was also the day of the Starmus round table debate inside the dome of Gran Telescopio…


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…


Winter’s finally arrived

The MAGIC 1 telescope in the fog, Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma island
February 19, 2016

We’ve been having a weirdly mild winter, to the point where the violets were blooming last week. Now we’ve got the same polar vortex as everyone else. I was going to post photos from the webcams at the Roque, but most of them have less to look at than this: It’s -2 ºC up there. Meanwhile down at sea level we’re all complaining about the cold. It’s 13 ºC, which…


First Stone for the Large Size Telescope

The new plaque for the Large Size Telescope, Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma
October 12, 2015

Friday 9th October was the first stone ceremony for the Large Size Telescope (LST). This will be the prototype for the largest units in the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA): 20 open basket, MAGIC-style telescopes, ranging from 23 m to 6 m in diameter. Lots of VIPs came. We had the Japanese ambasador and lots of politicians: the Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation, the President of the Canary…