Observatory La Palma


Astrophysics Observatory on the Roque de Los Muchachos – the Highest Peak on La Palma

One of the best equipped observatories worldwide is located on La Palma. Special climatic conditions – high location above the clouds, clear sight, no light pollution in the height of the Roque de Los Muchachos – provide a purer atmosphere and thus extraordinay clear, cloudless nights above La Palma, which are the best conditions for astronomical research.

The Astrophysics Oberservatory – Telescopes on La Palma

Roque de los Muchachos mit Sternwarte, Teleskop-Park Under the participation of international astrophysicists from 19 countries and ca. 60 institutions, since 1984 the Oberservatorio Astrofisico has been constructed – an observatory belonging to the biggest in the world. At the site of the European Northern Observatory, there are 15 telescopes, which are operated by reknown institutes and scientists, for basic research. Lately, there is also the most modern and biggest space reflecting telescope in Europe on La Palma. On the night of the 13th to the 14th Juli 2007, the “Gran TeCan” (Gran Telescopio Canarias, GTC) was festively opened for test operation in the presence of the Spanish Crown Prince Felipe. With this telescope, stars and galaxies are now observed in a test mode. In 2008, regular operation will commence. For the planned opening ceremony Brian May, forermly guitar player of the pop group “Queen” and former student of astrophysics on the Canaries, will contribute a composition. In the meantime after his career as pop musician, he has again taken up his studies of astronomy in Tenerife.

Telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos – a Selection

Imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescope - IACT am Roque de los MuchachosThe reflecting telescope MAGIC IACT (Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope) for gamma-radiation is the result of a cooperation between Germany, Italy and Spain. The telescope that has a diameter of 17 m and reflecting mirrors of 246m² started to operate in August 2004 at the Roque de los Muchachos.

Wilhelm Herrschel Teleskop La Palma, Roque de los MuchachosWilhelm Herschel Teleskop WHT Wilhelm Herschel Telescope WHT. The telescope which was until the opening of the GRANTECAN the biggest telescope on La Palma, is operated from Great Britain and still one of the most significant telescopes worldwide. It is used to observe planets, asteroids, comets, black holes and galaxies.

Observatorium Astrophysikum über den WolkenThe Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope SST is the biggest solar telescope in Europe and the second biggest in the world. Operated by the Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, it provides unique images of the sun and is aimed at clarifying questions about sunspots and magnetic fields of the sun.

Gran Telescopio CANARIAS GTC, La PalmaGran Telescopio CANARIAS GTC, opening in July 2007. The diameter of the primary mirror is almost 11 metres, that of the cupola is 33 metres, and the telescope itself was constructed on the initiative of the Astrophysics Institute of the Canaries, the Spanish and the Canarian government. Other involved countries are Mexico and the United States.

Open Doors at the Observatory Roque de los Muchachos

The observatory opens for only a few days in the year its gates for visitors. During guided tours, scientists provide you with insights in their research work. In the summer months July and August, sometimes even into the month of September, it is possible on 3-4 days after application and registration to visit the observatory. The dates are annually announced at the IAC (Instituto de Astrofisicas de Canarias) from May – in English and Spanish. The application can be undertaken by telephone, fax or e-mail. A further possibility is to inquire at the administration of the ORM (Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos) in Santa Cruz de La Palma. This inquiry is then referred to the corresponding telescope. Since the observatory is no planetarium, but an institution for basic research, generally only groups of visitors are admitted (students, school classes, hobbyist astronomers, groups from politics, economics, television, etc.). Individual visits are not possible.

Roque de los Muchachos

Together with the highest peak on the island, the Roque de los Muchachos (2426m), 12 further peaks of around 2000m constitute an imposing mountain range at the northern volcanic crater of the Caldera. At this height, you are already above the clouds and invited to a fantastic view onto the neighbouring islands of La Palma and – this is particularly impressive – on the peak of the Teide on Tenerife, 3718m. Standing on the edge of the crater of the Caldera, you see from different perspectives the impressive buildings of the Observatory La Palma, the telescope-park of the Astrophysics Observatory Roque Muchachos (ORM).

The Way directly to the Peak….

…of the Roque de los Muchachos can also be taken by car. The roads are in good condition and the route is precisely sign-posted. For the drive through numerous bends, you have to allow for around 1,5 to 2 hours, however, both from Santa Cruz de La Palma and from Los Llanos. Since on La Palma, it is not only the kilometres that count, but also the driving time.

Observatorio Roque de Los Muchachos – Collection of Observatories

Apartado de Correos 303
38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma
La Palma/Canary Islands

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