Trip to the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.

Aug. 8, 2013

My wife Brenda and I took a day off from our rigorous hiking itinerary to drive up to the observatories on the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, 2400 metres above sea level. We we're lucky enough to tour the massive GranTeCan Telescope ... the largest optical telescope in the world. The GTC is just one of a fleet of 15 telescopes on the site ... all fascinating and dedicated to exploring the cosmos, optically or otherwise. Visits to the observatory are limited, an application must be submitted online well in advance ... and approval / admission is not guaranteed into any facility (refer to iac.es/eno.php?op1=2&lang=en). It is a very long drive from sea level at Santa Cruz, with winding, hairpin switchbacks. The road can be treacherous, is generally in bad shape and falling rocks are all to common ! No gas or water are available, oxygen levels are 25 % less and UV exposure is harsh.

Car video footage only starts at the 33 km marker, far above the forested area, and more than 1.5 hrs from Santa Cruz.

A great resource is "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe" by Sheila M. Crosby by Dragon Tree Publishing (I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in visiting or learning about the observatory at Roque de Los Muchachos).

No access is permitted from 8pm - 8am to protect the facilities from light pollution. My wife and I, as well as myself solo on a second night, camped out discreetly on an adjacent peak, and only with red headlamp illumination in order to shoot Milky Way timelapse sequences (see vimeo.com/74459969). Note that wild camping is not permitted on the island, especially near the observatory. Do so at your own risk. It can get very cold and windy on the summit even during summer months. The only way to experience the night sky in as close proximity to the observatory is to hike.

Special thanks to the staff and guides at the GTC and IAC for the tour.

Filmed using the GoPro Hero 3 HD camera
Delkin suction mount used to secure the GoPro Hero 3 camera to the front hood of the car

Music: "Lost in Las Vegas" by Two Steps From Hell

Watch our other hiking / timelapse videos of La Palma here: vimeo.com/album/2498182

I can be reached at r_hoff2002@hotmail.com

j vimeo.com/73063516

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