Wallpaper Wednesday

29 02 2012

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma.

Mountain observatories seem to be very popular with the visitors to this site. At 2396 m, the elevation of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma doesn’t come close to that of the Sphinx Observatory (3571 m), but it’s not too far behind the Pic du Midi de Bigorre Observatory (2877 m) and it far surpasses Lick Observatory (1329 m).

The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory comprises one half of the European Northern Observatory; the other half consists of the Teide Observatory on Tenerife (2390 m, if you’re curious). Both institutions are operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). The ENO represents more of Europe than you might guess (seriously, since when does the Canary Islands speak for an entire subcontinent?). Much of the instrumentation was provided by Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, and eight European countries signed up to be charter members of the International Scientific Committee (CCI) associated with the IAC. And by my count, the IAC has signed agreements of cooperation with seventeen other nations, including the United States. As at most major observatories in the world, observing time is determined through application, either directly to the Time Allocation Committee (CAT) or to the country that owns the instrument needed for the project.

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[Edited to correct the grammatical errors and tortured prose produced during a late night writing session.]