The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) are collaborating in Astrofest La Palma 2018, a big festival of events organized by the Department of Tourism of the Island Cabildo of La Palma, whose aim is to highlight the quality of the sky on the “beautiful island”.
La Palma has gone all out to celebrate this festival whose objective is to publicize the outstanding sky quality of the Island. From nightime runs to the projection of films related to the stars, the Astrofest 2018 will be a big offer of culture, sport, and outreach, which will carry on until May 26th.
The most striking activity in the programme will be the “lights out” of one hour, with the slogan “Switch off the light, Switch on the stars”. This will take place tomorrow, 20th April, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Declaration of La Palma. This declaration is in defence of a dark, clean night sky, as well as the popularization of Astronomy, and it gave rise to the Starlight Foundation two years later. Antonia María Varela, senior engineer of the Sky Quality Team and representative of the Starlight Foundation at the IAC defines this event as “a festival for society, and a scientific opportunity for observations”. She adds that “The participation of society in this type of activities is essential”.
The TMT consortium, in collaboration with the IAC, has also wanted to join in, via the installation of a cube of side 2.5m in the Plaza de España of Santa Cruz de La Palma. It will remain there from tomorrow until April 28th, and anyone who wants to do so can complete the sentence on the upper part of the cube “When I ask a star for a wish, I wish for…..”.
In addition the IAC and the GTC will be collaborating in Astrofest 2018 with other activities. The first of these will be on April 23rd, when the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) will have a showing in its building of the film “The Laws of Thermodynamics” by Mateo Gil. In addition, Cristina Ramos and José Acosta, researchers at the IAC, and natives of La Palma, will give talks on April 27th and May 11th respectively.
On May 4th the IAC will again be present at the III International Seminar of Astrotourism, with a lecture by the Administrator of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM), Juan Carlos Pérez Arencibia. In the talk he will deal with opportunities for science-related tourism on the Island of La Palma, and specifically with the role of visits to the observatory, which is situated in the municipality of Garafía. In addition, one of the days dedicated to the Astromaster of photography will be held in the installations of the ORM, and the GTC will, on May 9th, be host to the presentation of the night-time race Transvulcania 2018, which will take place on May 14th.