Visiting the Observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos, 2010

La Palma is home to one of the three most important astronomical observatories in the world. (The other two are Hawaii and the Atacama desert in Chile.) The observatory sits at the top of the island, at the Roque de los Muchachos. It’s a fascinating place to visit, but it’s not normally open to tourists – they’re too busy doing science. However, the IAC who run the site are organising…

June 17, 2010

R.I.P. Florian Goebel

Florien was the project manager for MAGIC II, the second of the huge Cherenkov telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos. The telescope was due to be inaugurated next week, on the 19th. That’s been delayed now, because somehow he fell from the prime focus tower in the dark last night. The tower is about ten metres (33ft) high, and Florien’s dead. I only ever had one conversation with him….

September 11, 2008

More Magic

Fitting another mirror segment to MAGIC II The MAGIC gamma ray telescope is getting a twin. MAGIC II will work together with MAGIC 1 as a two-telescope array. The first thing you notice about MAGIC is that it’s huge. The mirror is 17 m (55ft) across. This is because Gamma rays never reach the earth (unless they come from an atomic bomb). What the telescope is looking for is something…

July 27, 2008