Planet Birth

Planets forming around a star
November 7, 2014

  The Alma radio telescope took this amazing picture of planets forming around the sun-like star, HL Tau. This is a baby star, less than a million years old, which is 450 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. And the disc of dust and gas around the star is already forming planets and asteroids – that’s what makes the dark rings in the brighter dust. It’s the first…


SuperWASP, the Planet-Hunter

Superwasp open for business, Roque de Los Muchachos
April 4, 2014

Most of the telescopes at the observatory here look spectacular even from the outside. SuperWASP looks like a big garden shed. It’s the white thing at bottom left. Even when it opens up, it still doesn’t look like a professional telescope. To me, it looks more like a small missile launcher. The equipment isn’t that spectacular either. As modern telescopes go, it was built for peanuts. It has eight cameras,…


Happy Birthday to Gran Telescopio Canarias

GTC at sunset, Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma
July 25, 2012

Gran Telescopio Canarias (Big Canarian Telescope) also known as GranTeCan or GTC was inaugurated on July 24th 2009. It’s the largest optical an infrared telescope in the world, with a segmented main mirror 10.4 m acros which gathers as much light as four million human eyes. The top of the dome is 41 m above the ground. GTC is owned 5% by the university of Mexico, 5% by the university…


Internet feeds of the Venus transit

If you live somewhere where you can see part or all of the transit, -I hope the clouds stay away for you.  REMEMBER NOT TO LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. If you’re on the wrong part of the planet (like me) or unlucky with the weather, here’s some places to watch it live on the Internet for free. will be broadcasting ten feeds of the Venus transit live from…

June 5, 2012

A birthday present for the William Herschel Telescope

The William Herschel Telescope at sunset, Roque de los Muchachos observatory
June 1, 2012

  The William Herschel Telescope is 25 years old today – first light was the 1st June 1987. For many years the Herschel was the biggest optical and infrared telescope in Europe, until Gran Telescopio Canarias opened in 2009. It’s main mirror is 4.2 m or 165? across which was huge when it opened, although that’s medium-sized these days. The telescope has so many different instruments that it’s been compared…