The Observatory

Gran Telescopio Canarias, or GTC, the biggest optical telescope in the world, Roque de Los Muchachos observatory, La Palma
February 10, 2008

  Twinkling stars are pretty, but astronomers would much rather they didn’t. The twinkle is caused by movement in the air above you (the same as a mirage on very hot days) and it stops the astronomers getting a clear view. The Hubble Telescope gets such wonderfully clear images because it’s out of the atmosphere altogether. But there’s only one Hubble, and it cost a fortune. So they build ground-based…



So here we are in this lovely sub-tropical island, land of eternal spring. And the top of the mountain is covered with snow. Last night’s rain turned into a storm, with far too much thunder and lightning to sleep through. It went on for hours. And this morning, I could see snow on the mountain. Not just the peak (the Roque de los Muchachos at 2426 m or 7,959 ft),…

February 9, 2008

A Magical Perk.

August 15, 2007

Yesterday I was guide for another two telescope visits. Unusually, they were afternoon visits. First I showed a sick boy and his mother around, and then a group of British amateur astronomers. The best bit was that after the amateurs finished seeing the Herschel, they were going to visit the MAGIC telescope. I hadn’t seen that one yet, so I tagged along. MAGIC stands for Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov…