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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Robert’s Wall (la pared de Roberto)

May 16, 2019

This photo was taken from the viewpoint at Los Andennes, where you get a spectacular view into the Caldera. From here you can see a dyke called La Pared de Roberto (Robert’s Wall). It’s about four metres high (13ft). [Volcanic dykes are formed when moulten lava fills a crack in the rock and solidifies slowly into very hard rock called basalt. Later on the softer, surrounding rock is eroded away,…

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The Art of Fire

March 31, 2019

Artefuego glassblowing studio is at the back of Plaza Sotomayor, where they hold the Argual flea market every Sunday. It’s a good idea to combine the two, because they hold public demonstrations on Sundays between 10 am and 2 pm. They combine fragments of lava into their creations, and to the best of their knowledge, they’re the only people in the world to do so. This makes every piece unique….

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The Barranco de las Angustias

This is the Barranco de las Angustias the Ravine of Anguish. The name comes from the conquest of the island, back at the end of the fifteenth century. Most of the tribes on the island took one look at the heavily-armed Spanish, and gave up without a fight. Four tribes fought briefly, but soon surrendered. After all, the original inhabitants, the Benhoaristas, had only stick and stones to fight against…

February 12, 2019
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The Tsunami Risk

You may remember the fuss in 2001 when two geologists, Steven Ward and Simon Day, announced their theory that the west side of the island of La Palma would collapse one day, creating a mega-tsunami that would cross the entire Atlantic and still be anything up to 25 metres high when it hit New York, and indeed everything from Newfoundland in Canada to Recife in Brazil. These days, almost all…

December 9, 2018
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The Famous Balconies

The famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma
December 3, 2018

These are the famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma. Actually these are the backs of the houses: the fronts look onto the Calle Real. When I first came to the island in 1990, the woodwork was all green and the plaster all white. For the town’s 500th anniversay, in 1993, the whole lot disappeared behind acres of black plastic sheeting for weeks while they were repainted in…

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