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La Palma, Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are located off the west coast of Africa. Although most of the islands are holiday destinations, the island of La Palma is special. A huge extinct volcano rises 2,400 metres (nearly 8,000 feet) above the Atlantic ocean, providing one of the finest sites in the world to look up at the heavens with powerful modern telescopes.

La Palma Observatory
Panorama showing the observatory (left of image) on the top of La Palma © ING

The above photograph shows the very top of the volcano with the cloud layer below the summit. To the left of the picture you can see just a few of the telescopes on the mountain. A group of telescopes like this is called an astronomical observatory. In this case, it is the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory. There are actually around 20 astronomical telescopes on La Palma, and these are owned and operated by many different nations. However, we shall only look at the following three examples:

GranTeCan Telescope
Credit: GTC
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William Herschel Telescope
Credit: Nik Szymanek
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Liverpool Telescope - © ING
Credit: LJMU/ARI
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Please note that over the weekend of the 26-28th May 2017 we will be switching over to our brand new website - during this time there may be periods where the site is difficult to access, and users will be unable to request observations from the telescope. Please bear with us during this time. All should be back up and running by the 29th May 2017.