Ravens on La Palma

October 4, 2017

Common Ravens live all over Europe, Asia and North America, but we have a different sub-species here. Some biologists group our raven in with the North African sub-species (Corvus corax tingitanus) and others think the Canaries have their own sub-species (Corvus corax canariensis). Like other members of the rook-and-crow family, they’ll eat whatever’s available: carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals, and food waste. And they’re pretty intelligent about…

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A Breathtaking Window on the Universe

September 20, 2017

I think this is a really good guide book to the observatory on La Palma, but you probably shouldn’t take too much notice of my opinion because I wrote it. On the other hand, the director of the biggest telescope in the world, Pedro Alvarez, likes it too. So do the directors of the William Herschel Telescope and telescopio Nazionale Galileo (the Italian). “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: A…

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The Herschell dome motor

Lifting the dome shutter motor back onto the WHT, Roque de Los Muchachos observatory, La Palma island, Canaries
September 14, 2017

Today I was photographing the MAGIC when I saw a big crane beside the William Herschel Telescope. Of course I went up to look, and found the engineers were winching the dome shutter back into position after repairs. Of course it took some time. As you can see in the last photo, the motor is pretty big and heavy. I don’t know what the shutter weighs, but the rotating part…

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The new GOTO telescope

The first GOTO dome at Roque de Los Muchachos observatory on La Palma.
July 3, 2017

Today the GOTO telescope was inaugurated on La Palma. It’s a smallish telescope to try to find the where gravitational waves come from. That is, there are three gravitational wave detectors called LIGO Hanson (in Washington State, USA), LIGO Livingston (in Louisiana, USA) and VIRGO (in Italy) which are about 3,000 km apart, and a third one nearing completion elsewhere. Between them, they can detect gravitational waves and get a…

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Archaeology at the Roque de los Muchachos

A spiral rock carving, Roque de los Muchachos, Garafia, La Palma
April 17, 2017

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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Ice at the Roque

February 22, 2017

Yesterday I went to work as a tour guide at the observatory. At 9a .m. it was 6 ºC, but the ice from overnight was still there, glistening inthe sunlight. Fortunately the road was almost completely clear.

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