Roque de los Muchachos Observatory

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory

Overview of some of the telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory.
Organization IAC
Code 950
Location La Palma, Canary Islands, Atlantic Ocean (Island is part of Spain)
Coordinates 28°45′49″N 17°53′41″W / 28.7636°N 17.8947°W / 28.7636; -17.8947Coordinates: 28°45′49″N 17°53′41″W / 28.7636°N 17.8947°W / 28.7636; -17.8947
Altitude 2,396 metres (7,861 ft)[1]
Website {{URL||optional display text}}
MAGIC (telescope) 2 x 17 m gamma-ray imaging Cherenkov telescopes
Gran Telescopio Canarias 10.4 m reflecting telescope
William Herschel Telescope 4.2 m reflecting telescope
Telescopio Nazionale Galileo 3.58 m reflecting telescope
Nordic Optical Telescope 2.56 m reflecting telescope
Isaac Newton Telescope 2.5 m reflecting telescope
Liverpool Telescope 2.0 m robotic telescope (also reflecting)
Mercator Telescope 1.2 m reflecting telescope
Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope 1.0 m refracting vacuum solar telescope
Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope 1.0 m reflecting telescope
Dutch Open Telescope 0.45 m reflecting solar telescope
Carlsberg Meridian Telescope 0.18 m refracting telescope
SuperWASP 5 wide angle cameras with 0.11 m diameter lenses
HEGRA 17 Cherenkov telescopes, 3 m diameter now dismantled
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Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Spanish: Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, ORM) is an astronomical observatory located in the municipality of Garafía on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. The observatory site is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, based on nearby Tenerife. ORM is part of the European Northern Observatory.

The seeing statistics at ORM make it the second-best location for optical and infrared astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, after Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii. The site also has some of the most extensive astronomical facilities in the Northern Hemisphere; its fleet of telescopes includes the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world's largest single-aperture optical telescope as of July 2009.;[2] the William Herschel Telescope (second largest in Europe), and the adaptive optics corrected Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope, which provides the highest resolution solar imaging of any telescope.


The observatory began operation around 1984 with the Isaac Newton Telescope, which was moved to La Palma from the Royal Greenwich Observatory site at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, England. The move was troubled, and it is widely recognized that it would have been cheaper to build a new telescope on-site rather than to move an existing one.

The observatory was firstly staffed by representatives from Spain, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Other countries which became involved later include Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, and the United States.

The observatory was officially inaugurated on June 29, 1985, by the Spanish royal family and six European heads of state. Four helicopter pads were built at the observatory to allow the dignitaries to arrive in comfort. The observatory has expanded considerably over time, with the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope opened in 1987, the Nordic Optical Telescope in 1988 and several smaller solar or specialised telescopes; the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo opened in 1998 and the Gran Telescopio Canarias opened in 2006, with its full aperture in 2009.

A fire on the mountainside in 1997 damaged one of the gamma-ray telescopes, but subsequent fires in September 2005 and August 2009[3] did no serious damage to buildings or telescopes.

In 2016, the observatory was announced as the second-choice location for the Thirty Metre Telescope, in the event that the Mauna Kea site is not feasible.[4]

360 degrees panorama as taken on 2011 January 28

See also


  1. "Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos Website". Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  2. Klotz, Irene (2009-07-24). "New telescope is world's largest ... for now".
  3. "Fires rage across Canary island". BBC News. BBC. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  4. "STATEMENT REGARDING SELECTION OF ALTERNATE SITE FOR TMT". 31 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
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