Thursday, September 15, 2011

A busy day at the Roque

Putting the Galileo's mirror onto the carrying case, which is on the lorry.

 I didn't have any guiding work yesterday, but I drove up the mountain anyway.  I wanted to get photos of people moving the main mirror from the Galileo to the Herschel telescope for realuminizing.  They only do this once every three years, so I was keen not to miss it.  That mirror weighs about 6 tonnes, and if they break it, it's much worse than even years bad luck - they'll close the telescope and everyone will be out of a job.  You'll appreciate that people were somewhat nervous, and I was careful to keep out of the way.

The Galileo's mirror arriving at the William Herschel Telescope.

And there's more.  At the same time, people were working on top of the huge dome of GranTeCan, just down the hill from the Galileo.  I stayed well back, partly because that gave a better angle for photos, but also because a nut falling from up there would be fast enough to be dangerous by the time it hit the ground.  The guys up there obviously aren't scared of heights.

People working each side of the massive GTC dome

And when all that was over, for once I was up there with old clothes and no deadline, so I finally got a close look at a monument that I've driven past for twenty years. It's well above the road, with no path to it, so I had to scramble over and around the codeso bushes for 25 minutes to reach it.  It was all a bit more intrepid than I'd bargained for.

The Union of the Earth and Cosmos from the road

It's was made by Cesar Manrique to celebrate the opening of the observatory, and it's supposed to symbolise the union of the Earth and Cosmos.  But honestly, most people find themselves thinking of something else.

Well I've been there, done that, and I don't think I'll bother again, but I'm glad I did it once.

Monument to the Union of the Earth and Cosmos up close.

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