Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain
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Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, also known in Spanish as Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos (ORM), is one of the best astronomical observatories in the world. It is situated on the island of La Palma, which belongs to the Canary archipelago. This observatory is the member of European Northern observatory and possesses the largest single-aperture optical telescope in the world!
The most prominent feature of Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory is that it occupies the mountain peak almost on the verge of Caldera de Taburiente National Park, that is, on the height of 2,396 metres above the sea level. The outstanding condition of the skies in this area, only mildly affected by pollution, makes the location perfect for stargazing and investigating. In fact, it is the best location, following up the Hawaiian Mauna Kea Observatory.
If you climb to the peak of the mountain, you will definitely notice other neighboring islands, on the cloudy, you may as well see the fleets of clouds gathering up above. And the most exciting and surreal experience awaits you, of course, at night, when the stars seem so close to the surface of the Earth as they possibly can be. Observing billions of stars, one movement of the head away from you, on the top of the mountain - what else can be better?
As for the historical background of the observatory, it was established back in 1984. At the time, the crew had only one telescope in-store, the huge Newton Telescope from Sussex. Essentially, the observatory, so to say, formed around the telescope after it had been erected at the mountain. The states of the United Kingdom and Sweden, Spain, Denmark have put equal and immense effort into maintaining the facility. Hence, nowadays, however, Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory is home for seventeen powerful telescopes which have been collected over the course of time. The glorious group includes the gigantic single-aperture Gran Telescopio Canarias one and also the largest European solar telescope, The Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope SST. All of that makes the observatory ideal not only for night-time investigations but the subject of interest for Solar Physics and High Energy Astrophysics.
Regular guides and tours are held in the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, where the visitors under the supervision of the professionals can try out each of the telescopes in the facility. However, be sure to check with the limited time periods when you can access the observatory and take warm clothes to deal with freezing night temperatures!
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