The view from Los Andennes Viewpoint
The view from Los Andennes Viewpoint

Today I had two groups at the observatory, which meant that I had to get up at 6:30 am (ugh!) to leave home at 8 am. When I arrived at the top of the mountain at 9:10 am, it was 6 ºC and mizzling.

As I said to the tourists, “Welcome to the Canary Islands, land of eternal spring.”

Of course it’s January, and the observatory is at 2,400 m, so I expect a few days like that each winter. I just don’t enjoy them. Last year we lost several groups to icy roads.

So we didn’t bother with stopping at the heliport. I didn’t fancy keeping everyone in the cold and rain to say, “…and the Isaac Newton Telescope is behind the fog over there, and the Galileo is behind the fog over there…”

So I phoned the telescope and got permission to go a bit early. We stayed in the service building with the central heating, while I explained why the observatory is on La Palma and why mirror size is so important, then we went straight to the telescope. Everyone seemed happy with that. And the lovely GTC staff moved the telescope for us, to the usual ooohs and ahhhs, which made them happier.

But I was rather glad to get back home to warmer rain.

Canary pine trees looking atmospheric in the mist , La Palma , Canary Islands
Canary pine trees looking atmospheric in the mist on the way home.

And the kings are coming tonight with presents for all good Spanish children (and coal/charcoal for the naughty ones). Given that Father Christmas was so very nice to me, I’m not expecting anything much, but you never know your luck, do you?

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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