I've often been asked what its like to work in an observatory? The following photo sections will hopefully answer that question. Although I've seen websites for various observatories around the world; some even with virtual tours, I think that my pages may be the first showing some of the activities which go on during the daytime when the astronomers are still asleep!
As a lad in the 1950's, interested in astronomy and who always had a desire to work for the RGO one day, coming to La Palma was like a dream come true. Certainly the best job I ever had. Although I still feel remorse that the RGO was closed in 1998, its nice to know that a good part of it still exists 8000ft (2,300 metres) perched on the edge of an extinct volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands. We always used to joke that La Palma was The Sharp End of the RGO and in many respects that tradition lives on.
After working a bit over 16 years with the RGO/ING, I have met many great people, some who sadly are no longer here. Memories like having a few beers with Bill Martin down in the residencia after he spent a day in the INT library struggling to sort out the observing schedules to fit around the personal preferences of the applicants. Asking Michael Penston why he wore different coloured socks when observing (he never did tell me why) and the time Brendan Byrne from Armagh Observatory wasn't the least bit concerned that his entire observing run on the JKT was snowed out! Since writing this page, I was saddened to hear Roy Wallis (Wol) had passed on in 2007. A great character and without doubt, sorely missed by all who knew him. Good memories.
I would also like to thank ex-RGO astronomers; Bob Argyle and Derek Jones for passing the time with me (usually when the wind was howling around the domes and the rain lashing against the shutters!) and telling me their tales of what it was like to observe back at Herstmonceux. Sometimes amusing stories like being stuck in the INT's prime focus cage when the telescope refused to move, being left high in Dome E when the rising floor jammed or the problems with the heated flying suits used for observing that would sometimes go into 'smoke mode'... !
Last but not least... My thanks go to Paul Murdin for sorting out an administrative 'cock-up' back in 1985 after my successful job interview. If it was not through his help, I doubt if would be writing these web pages today.
For the benefit of the present ING staff and certainly for any ex-RGO/ING members who come across this website, I've included the names of those in the photos who I recognise. As many of my photos were taken in the late 1980's, don't be surprised if you see your younger self. I have broken these pages down into the following sections and given dates where noted:
THE ING TELESCOPES
- The 4.2 metre William Herschel telescope (WHT)
- The 2.5 metre Isaac Newton telescope (INT)
- The 1 metre Jacobus Kapteyn telescope (JKT) Updated June 2016
WORK ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS