Disappointment and consolation

ME and the EMIR spectrograph
ME and the EMIR spectrograph

Some time ago I was asked to keep June 11th free for an excursion with a VIP visitor. Then on Monday I saw on the internet that Stephen Hawking was coming to La Palma on the Britannia on Saturday June 11th.

My heart started pounding. After a bit I decided it was silly to eat my fingernails, so I phoned the travel agent.

Well the plan had been for me to take Stephen Hawking to the south of the island, but the island council had something else organised, so it wasn’t going to happen.

I phoned the island council. They didn’t know what was happening yet, but they probably didn’t need a guide.

By Thursday, they definitely didn’t need a guide. [Sigh] So I left a copy of my book for Stephen Hawking.

Yes, I was disappointed. Very.

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

On Friday I had two groups up at the Roque. And after lunch the project manager for the new spectrograph, EMIR (Espectrografo Multi-ojecto Infra Rojo) invited me to take a look. So I got to go up to the Nasmyth platform and meet EMIR up close and personal. I hope to do another post on EMIR soon, but for the moment lets just say that it’s a big deal. And while I was up there, I realised that Stephen Hawking would have loved to be up there with me. He saw EMIR when it was still on Tenerife, but he’s said that he’d love to see Gran Telescopio Canarias, but can’t cope with the altitude. And even if he could, goodness how they’d get him up onto the Nasmyth platform – it’s two stories above the dome floor and I climbed steps almost as steep as a ladder.

So I felt a lot better then.

And on Saturday I was the guide for a routine bus excursion from the Britannia, which was really rather nice.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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