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IMC 2012 Excursion

IMC 2012 Excursion to the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos

This excursion took place during the Saturday afternoon and included visits to the CILBO meteor camera, the William Herschel Telescope and the 10.4 meter Gran Telescopio Canarias. The telescopes of the observatory are located high on La Palma (close to 8000 feet above sea level) and thus usually well above the cloud layer.

The CILBO camera system is one of the smallest at the observatory. Along with its partner, located on Tenerife, it is used for meteor triangulation. The aim is to study meteor orbits and also the composition of the particles themselves. At the time of the visit, however, it was out of action due to a fault having caused it to point too close to the Moon. More information about the CILBO cameras can be found at

The above image shows the "observatory". Below we see the camera itself.

The two MAGIC telescopes featured in a recent Horizon programme on BBC2. They study the universe in gamma rays by monitoring the Cherenkov radiation produced when gamma rays interact with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. This interaction produces a cascade of secondary particles which then emit radiation that can be detected at visual wavelengths.

More information about the MAGIC telescopes can be found at

The 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope has been operating on La Palma since 1987 and continues to be used for a wide variety of astronomical observations in the optical and infrared.

More information about this telescope can be found at

The 10.4 metre Gran Telescopio Canarias has a mirror made up of 36 smaller hexagonal segments and is currently the world’s largest optical-infrared telescope.

More information about the "GranTeCan" can be found at

Many more telescopes are located at the observatory, including the Isaac Newton Telescope, the Galileo Telescope and the Liverpool Telescope. The two unusual looking telescope "domes" below are the Swedish Solar Telescope and the Dutch Open (solar) Telescope.

The visit concluded with a trip to the highest point to allow participants to look down into the caldera. Below we see the SPA's Paul Sutherland returning from one of the viewpoints.

Added by:  Tracie Heywood