Starlit Skies

Galaxy M51 taken with the Isaac Newton Telescope and Wide Field Camera by Simon Driver
August 29, 2019

  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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A Breathtaking Window on the Universe

May 19, 2019

Table of Contents for the Second Edition of “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: a guide to the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos”. Any words in bold are explained in the glossary. The second edition of “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe” is now on sale, price 17€ from shops or 15€ + P&P from this site. To continue reading, click here to buy the book.

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Archaeology at the Roque de los Muchachos

A spiral rock carving, Roque de los Muchachos, Garafia, La Palma
April 16, 2019

For centuries, goatherds have brought their flocks to the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point on the island of La Palma. As the lower pastures dried out in summer, they moved to fresh pastures on higher ground. These days, farmers can drive home for the night, but of course that wasn’t the case 50 years ago, much less 500 years ago. They came up some time in June, and…

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The Inauguration of the LST

October 16, 2018

  The Large Sized Telescope was inaugurated on Wednesday October 10th. I didn’t get chance to take many photos, because I was working. My part in the inauguration was to look after a group of 42 Japanese scientists and engineers for the day, showing them around GTC and the Roque before the speeches and ribbon cutting. The VIPs incuded Pedro Duque the science minister, and Takaaki Kajita Nobel Prize winner and director of…

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The lights went off and the stars switched on

April 22, 2018

In spite of worries about the weather, Friday night’s “Switch off the lights and switch on the stars” went really well. It was gusty, but there were very few clouds. I did wish I could have blown one off the Pleiades though. I’d hoped for more people (Note to self: next year do more advanced publicity so there’s a bigger crowd.) but I was very glad I’d invested in a…

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