TJS had spotted a possible educational outing in Tenerife. The Funsters headed off by bus to spend a day on (or rather not on) the windy beach and me and the other sherpa headed back up to the high mountains. Before the planned activity we had time for a short walk before lunch
The guidebook mentioned a short walk that could be fitted in while waiting for a bus. It suited both my infirm knee and our limited time but up here even the shortest walk delivers.
It was a round of an old volcanic cone called Alto de Guamasa and it was sensational. Its perched high above the steep forested northern slopes and the views were awesome. A snowy El Teide on one side
This short was to shown people back home there was enough snow to ski on (many people were sledging on body boards!)
On the other side were spectacular views down to the north coast
The scenery was ever changing as the path completely circled the cone. Bare lava slopes of various hues, forests and El Teide always dominating
Only took an hour but another classic walk
After a brief lunch we were off to our main destination. TJS is planning on doing Astrophysics at University and when he saw that they did organised tours of the Observatory up here, well, he was rather keen
Its perched up at just shy of 2400 metres which probably explains why he looks so cold, seeing as it was just that, very cold in fact.
It has a whole range of telescopes and technology. Its primary function is as a solar observatory (the three big towers above) one of the top 3 in the world (the others are in Hawaii and Chile)
The best location for such things are oceanic islands with high mountains. When observing the sun the main challenge is local ambient heat. The ocean acts as some kind of thermal barrier that minimises the effect of localised and of course being high up in clear atmosphere helps a lot. Even the plants that grow up here help
Photo below shows a whole host of other technology (Gran Canaria in the background), one of which is a microwave telescope looking for the origins of the universe and the big bang and part managed by Manchester University where TJS hopes he might one day end up
Here we got look at the Electromagnetic image of the sun. There were no sunspots to see but you could see solar flares which was impressive
Of course from up here the views of the island were also damned fine
The two guys who did the tour were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good humoured. I would have liked to have seen inside one of the solar telescopes but we did get to see one of their older reflective telescopes up close. They also did an audio visual presentation that was way better than any planetarium show I’ve ever seen
Needless to say TJS was in his element. Much of what was said went over my head a bit but like TJS I could see it would be damned fine place to work. Much better than being a Project Manager for an Mobile Phone company
On the way down we had to wait in traffic but in a spot where the views back to El Teide and the Roques de Garcia was superb in the late afternoon light. Two identical pictures, one taken with my phone one with my DSLR. Pretty hard to tell the difference!
Superb day out, something completely different and educational that I hope has inspired TJS still further to continue his hard work at college. Hopefully I can come visit when he works here!