Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thrones and telescopes

The huge, once-every-five-years fiesta has started here. The main focus of the fiesta is that the statue of the Virgin Mary comes down from the village of Las Nieves down to the capital of Santa Cruz for a month.

The statue itself doesn't come down for another two weeks, but normally it sit on a silver throne, and on Sunday, they brought the throne down to Santa Cruz in procession.

Well, I say procession, but it's more like a mile-long party. According to the local authorities, 72,000 people turned out! More details, and photos, on the blog about La Palma.

On Monday morning I had a tour guiding job, showing people around Grantecan, the huge, new telescope. They have an insurance policy for the visits which strictly stipulates "No under 12's." I'd been warned by my boss, the IAC who run the site, and the telescope manager that I had to enforce this and check ID if I was in any doubt.

And there was a 9 year old who wants to be an astronomer when she grows up, crying with disappointment.

Oh ****! It brought back my pain and fury at not being allowed to watch the Apollo 11 landings on TV at school lunch hour. The TV room was packed with kids who, I was sure, only wanted to be there because we weren't normally allowed to watch TV then, so they only let the kids in the top year in. And I wanted to see it so much!

The duty person at the telescope was very sympathetic, but pointed out that he could lose his job too.

Oh thank goodness my husband works at the Italian telescope! I told that she'd have to stay outside, but promised I'd try to get her into another telscope afterwards. I knew my husband would be sympathetic, and thank goodness, he was able as well as willing. So after an hour's work I was paid for, we took her around the Galileo for free. I was pretty tired afterwards, but it was well worth it to see the way her face lit up.

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