The William Herschel Telescope

The William Herschel Telescope at sunset. . The William Herschel Telescope was for many years the biggest and best optical telescope in Europe (until GranTeCan opened in 2009).  The main mirror is 4.2 m across (165″, or 13′ 9″) which astronomers call “a good light bucket”. It’s rather old as world-class telescopes go, since it opened in 1987, but it still produced excellent science. In fact data from the WHT…

August 7, 2013
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The William Herschel Telescope

The William Herschel Telescope at sunset. The William Herschel Telescope was for many years the biggest and best optical telescope in Europe (until GranTeCan opened in 2009).  The main mirror is 4.2 m across (165″, or 13′ 9″) which astronomers call “a good light bucket”. It’s rather old as world-class telescopes go, since it opened in 1987, but it still produced excellent science. In fact data from the WHT has…

August 27, 2011
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Stargazing

The island’s association of amateur astronomers will be holding a star party on Saturday, from 8pm, behind the trees in the plaza beside the tourist office in El Paso. There will be lots of amateur telescopes there, so you can get a good look at, say, Saturn or Jupiter, and they plan to be there until midnight. I gather they speak some English. La Palma has amazing skies. This is…

August 22, 2008
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Observatory Open Days for 2008

Traditionally, the observatory has been open to visitors about 4 days per year, with perhaps 6 groups for each day. This year, they’re going to have 20 open days, but most of them will only have one group. Each visit starts at 9:45 with a visit to the MAGIC gamma-ray telescope, followed by one other telescope, and finishes before 12.00. DATE Day 2nd telescope 8th July Tues WHT or INT…

July 7, 2008
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The MAGIC telescope

This is the MAGIC telescope (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescope). It’s perhaps the most exotic telescope at the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos. It’s not an optical telescope. Instead of observing visible light, it’s looking for gamma rays. Visible light is made up of different wavelengths, which give the different colours from red to violet. Wavelengths which are just a bit too short to see form ultra-violet…

February 19, 2008
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The Observatory

Twinkling stars are pretty, but astronomers would much rather they didn’t. The twinkle is caused by movement in the air above you (the same as a mirage on very hot days) and it stops the astronomers getting a clear view. The Hubble Telescope gets such wonderfully clear images because it’s out of the atmosphere altogether. But there’s only one Hyubble, and it cost a fortune. So they build ground-based telescopes…

February 10, 2008
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