A dreaming view from Heavens


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A panoramic view from Roque de Los Muchachos on the Canary island of La Palma, where stands a huge complex with 15 telescopes, some of the largest telescopes in the world – many of them visible in the background – from 19 nations, that are using the best night sky in Europe to explore the cosmos.

In the foreground – both edges of the image – stands the MAGIC telescope I and II (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes). MAGIC-II is located at a distance of 85 m from the first MAGIC telescope (at right). The stereo operation of both telescopes has increased the sensitivity of the observatory by a factor of ~3. MAGIC-II (at left) is a copy of the original MAGIC-I but it has a more homogeneous camera with more pixels, and a refurbished readout. In 2012, in a major upgrading operation mostly concerning MAGIC-I, the two telescopes were made technically identical. MAGIC is not only huge (it was the largest telescope mirror in the world, with 17 meters in diameter, before the construction of H.E.S.S.) but also pioneers a number of technical developments that had never been applied to Cherenkov telescopes before. The mirror is extremely light and can be moved to any position in the sky in less than thirty seconds. It is made up of 270 individual mirror panels that can be independently focussed using an active mirror control system equipped with lasers.

Between the both giant Cherenkov Telescopes, stands the mountain top of the Roque de los Muchachos, where is placed from right to left, telescopes like Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), with a 10,4 meters primary mirror reflecting telescope (first silhouette), Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG), that is a 3.6m alt-azimuth telescope with a Ritchey-Chretien optical configuration, Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) a modern 2.6-m optical/IR telescope, Dutch Open Telescope (DOT) an innovative optical telescope with a primary mirror of 45 cm diameter, for high-resolution imaging of the solar atmosphere, Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope (SST) is the largest solar telescope in Europe and number one in the world when it comes to high spatial resolution, and finally the great William Herschel Telescope (WHT), the largest optical telescope of its kind in Europe, with a primary mirror of 4.2 meters in diameter, is one of the most scientifically productive telescopes in the world.

Between the William Herschel Telescope and the MAGIC (at left) the sky shows the Pleiades star cluster M45, and a bit above, semi hidden behind the antenna we can find the deep sky object California nebula NGC1499. From left to right edge, the sky shows the presence of a strong green airglow of oxygen atoms (90-100 km high), and shining in the center image as an orange bands – normally from oxygen atoms at 150-300km high where the atmosphere is so sparse and collisions so infrequent that the atoms have time to radiate ‘forbidden’ light.  Finally, against the MAGIC I (in the right corner of the picture), lies our own Galaxy, the Milky Way.

|   Canon 60Da – ISO2500; 24mm at f/2; Exp. 15 secs. Mosaic of 19 images taken in 01/10/2013 at 00:04

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