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…


MAGIC Prime Focus

The MAGIC Telescope
August 28, 2015

The MAGIC telescope has the biggest telescope mirrors in the world. I’ve always wanted to get up the green tower to prime focus, where the light is focused onto the camera. I finally got up there in July 2014. Even better, my friend Carolin Liefke (from the Max Plank Institute) had a camera with a fisheye lens and the skill to make good use of it. You can read more…


New enormous Cherenkov telescopes

July 18, 2015

  It’s not quite a done deal, but it looks as though La Palma will be getting another 20 Chrenkov telescopes. The board of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) met on the 15th and 16th of July, and decided that their two preferred sitres are La Palma and Chile (near the Paranal observatory). Negotiations will now start with the site owners, and are expected to take 6 months. Meanwhile, they’ll…


Transvulcania runners visit the Observatory

May 7, 2015

  Today 11 of the Transvulcania runners visited the observatory, together with about 20 journalists. Lucky me, I got the job of being their guide. So I showed them around GTC and the MAGIC. It felt a bit odd, because the runners were interested in the telescopes, but the photographers were largely interested in the runners. Well, it’s their job, obviously: they weren’t there for me or the telescopes. But at the end,…