A Breathtaking Window on the Universe

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January 20, 2015

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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Starlit Skies

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 from…

September 12, 2014
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Shooting stars on Tuesday night

Tuesday night is the best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids. Of course it should be visible all over the planet, but La Palma’s astronomical viewpoints will probably be a particularly good place to see shooting stars. Unfortunately the full moon will spoil the show quite a bit. Cielos La Palma will be in La Polvacera basketball court from 9 pm – midnight with telescopes. Toño will also be…

August 11, 2014
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The Swedish Solar Tower

Two of the fourteen telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory are solar telescopes — highly specialised to observe our own sun. This is the Swedish Solar Telescope, which was the first telescope built on the Roque. It’s currently the best solar telescope in the world since they added the new adaptive optics in 2005. (Adaptive optics compensate for air turbulence.) It can resolve details of the sun’s surface…

July 1, 2014
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SuperWASP, the Planet-Hunter

Most of the telescopes at the observatory here look spectacular even from the outside. SuperWASP looks like a big garden shed. It’s the white thing at bottom left. Even when it opens up, it still doesn’t look like a professional telescope. To me, it looks more like a small missile launcher. The equipment isn’t that spectacular either. As modern telescopes go, it was built for peanuts. It has eight cameras,…

April 4, 2014
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Puntagorda Market

This weekend, Puntagorda market has a special attraction. Astrotour will be offering free astronomical observations of the sun, together with workshops and games for children. And on Sunday morning, there’s a workshop on solar energy. There will also be nighttime astronomical observations on the Avenida Almendos near Cafe Itaca. Puntagorda is a village and municipality in the north west of the island. Every Saturday and Sunday, they have a farmers’…

November 21, 2013
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