GRANTECAN opens its doors to its observing nights

Cover of Credit: Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC).

In spite of the great interest which many people feel for the science of Astronomy, citizens in general do not have direct access to large telescopes such as the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GRANTECAN) in which they can see and understand the work carried out at a front-line astronomical installation. This is due to the geographically remote sitigin of the telescope, the fact that night-time access to the observatory is restricted to technicians and scientists, and the impossibility of dedicating nocturnal observing time on telescopes as valuable and expensive as GRANTECAN to specific programmes of diffusion and outreach.

To break these barriers GRANTECAN today is inaugurating the website which will allow people to be present in real time to the night-time work on the telescope. In the web page, which is within the project “ Open doors to the largest telescope in the world” basic information in real time will be given about the scientific programmes which are being carried out, the instruments used, and he meteorological conditions during the observations. All of this will be accompanied by images from the high sensitivity cameras installed on the telescope and its surroundings, which will allow people to see it during the day and at night, to appreciate the extraordinary quality of the La Palma night sky and see details of the area on the sky to which GRANTECAN is pointing at any time.

In addition, every Saturday from March 9th until the end of June, from around sunset until midnight, a series of broadcasts live from the telescope will be made, via the same website and the YouTube channel of GRANTECAN. Elena Nordio, astrophysicist and Starlight guide will explain continually what is happening at the telescope and will answer questions put to her by people who are using the chat on YouTube. “We are working so that a major part of these broadcasts deal with specific topics, with the presence of an invited guest” explains Romano Corradi, the director of GRANTECAN. “ We also foresee connecting specifically to groups with a special interest in astronomy in museums, planetariums, amateur associations, schools, and universities. We invite all those interested to get in touch with GRANTECAN”.

The programme, developed in collaboration with the FECYT, of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, is an invitation to all citizens, and especially to all those interested in Astronomy, to sit down beside the scientists who are stuyding the Universe, learning and sharing their experience while they observe the sky with a large telescope.

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