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Astronomical Observations at La Palma

So far I have twice visited the island of La Palma on an observation trip. I have made astronomical observations with NOT (Nordic Optical Telescope) at Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos. On these pages I shall tell you about these trips and my observations. The following report of my travels is based on an article I wrote to the PYRY-magazine (2/1998) of the Entrepreneurs' Association of Pori.


The Tuorla Observatory of the University of Turku has its own 1 metre (40.5 inches; diameter of mirror) telescope, that is used for making observations--whenever weather is clear, or seldomly. More important observations are made with the La Palma NOT telescope (mirror 2.56 m or 101 in.) or, in the case of radio observations, with the SEST radio telescope (diameter of antenna = 15 m or 50 ft.) at European Southern Observatory ESO in Chile. Observation trips are time consuming and are often left for students and especially graduate students to do. That is how I got my observation assignments.

When I was about to begin with my master's thesis research, my professor, Mauri Valtonen, asked me if I would like to go to an observation trip to Chile as a representative of Tuorla Observatory (it was a co-operation with a Canadian observatory). I was only happy to go so in September 1996 I spent nine days in Chile, of which five in Santiago de Chile and four in ESO La Silla observatory. I shall tell more about this on a web page to be released later.

I separated this story in various pages as the whole text blew up to quite a large size and perhaps uncomfortable to read as just one page. The pages are listed below with their photos (so that you can estimate the loading times). You can go from one page to another using this page. You can easily return here via links in the end of separate pages or clicking the 'back' key of your browser. I hope you enjoy reading these pages.

Introduction (1 photo, 35 kb)
First trip (January 1998) (4 photos, tot. 92 kb)
Second trip (February 1998) (5 photos, tot. 180 kb)

Astronomical terminology

All the photos on these pages I took on my second trip to La Palma on 26 Feb - 5 Mar 1998. In the following there are a few maps I fetched from other www pages about the Canary Islands.

Location of Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean near the African coast.

The Canary Islands
There are seven volcanic main islands in the Canary Islands. La Palma is in the north-western corner of the islands. The islands are the most verdant in the west whereas the easternmost islands Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are almost desert themselves like the Sahara only a few hundred kilometres to the east of them. The westernmost islands La Palma and El Hierro are covered with plenty of vegetation.

La Palma
A satellite image of La Palma. The island is about 40 km (25 miles) wide and about 60 km (40 miles) long. I marked the location of the Observatory, the capitol Santa Cruz de la Palma, la Caldera de Taburiente, and the town of Fuencaliente on the map.

Links to sites mentioned on these pages:

Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT),
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC),
Observatorio del Roque de los Muchahos (ORM),
European Southern Observatory (ESO),
Tuorla Observatory.

N.B. I am happy to receive all and any comments to the email address below. I may add new information to the pages as you pose your intriguing questions to me, so please check the new pages appearing here every now and then.

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