Asteroid day talk: Left to right: Massimo Cecconi, Elena Nordio, y Vania Lorenzi. Palacio Salazar, Santa Cruz de La Palma

Asteroid Day

  Well that was an interesting talk. There have been no massive asteroid impacts in living memory, so it’s easy to forget that they exist. The scientists are pretty confident they’re tracking 96% everything over a kilometre in diameter. Those happen just once every 700,000 years, which is good because they hit with the equivalent of 60,000 million tons of TNT. The worry is the smaller ones. A 40m-wide asteroid…

His Majesty the King, authorities, and personnel of the IAC and the GTC beside the building which houses this telescope,at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma). Above the telescope is a laser beam emitted from the William Herschel Telescope. Credits: Antonio González/IAC., Roque de Los Muchachos observatory, La Palma

King Felipe of Spain visits the ORM

  Saturday was the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of the Canarian observatories, and His Majesty the King of Spain visited both the Observatorio de Teide (OT) and the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos (ORM). The programme started with the inauguration of the telescopes newly installed at the Teide Observatory: the QUIJOTE experiment, and the robotic telescopes LCOGT, MASTER, QES, SLOOH/OTA, MAGEC, and AMOS-CI. The King unveiled the plaques…

Asteroid Day poster

Asteroid Day – free event

  Asteroid Day is the anniversary of the Tunguska event in 1908, when a huge asteroid exploded over Siberia. There will be a free public event on Tuesday 30th of June at 19:00 at Palacio Salazar in Santa Cruz de La Palma. SCHEDULE: 19:00 – Welcome & keynote lecture 19:10 – Talks given by astronomers Speakers: Elena Nordio (Ad Astra La Palma) Vania Lorenzi (Telescopio Nazionale Galileo) Massimo Cecconi (Telescopio…

The dancing dwarves, bajada de la virgen, Santa Cruz de La Palma

The 2015 Bajada is starting

  The island of La Palma will soon go nuts for about five weeks as we celebrate the bajada. Bajada means “coming down” and in this case, they bring the statue of the Virgin Mary down from the lovely church at Las Nieves down to Santa Cruz. They’ve been doing this every five years since 1676, when the statue was credited with ending a terrible drought. These days the bajada…

A bee on a viper's bugloss

Back from the brink

In 1988 the National Parks service performed a census of native species on La Palma and many of the results were horrifying. This plant, a type of Viper’s Bugloss, was down to just 50 specimens. So they started planting them inside rabbit and goat-proof fences. It worked, and there’s lots of them in bloom all around the observatory now. Lunch time for bees, bumblebees and butterflies!

The Teide Observatory with Mt Teide behind.

Izaña and Las Cañadas

  Today we drove from Puerto de la Cruz over the top of Tenerife, down to Los Cristianos to catch the ferry home. I took the chance to detour past the Izaña observatory, although the public aren’t allowed inside. Like La Palma, the trade winds create excellent observing conditions on the windward side of Tenerife. The observatory is above the clouds, where the air is very clean and dry, and…