Astrophysics in the Canaries began here at this Observatory. Located in Izaña (Tenerife) at 2390 metres above sea level, the site marks the point at which the municipal boundaries of La Orotava, Fasnia, and Güímar meet. The first telescope on the site was set up by the University of Bordeaux in 1964 and was used to carry out pioneering studies of the zodiacal light (light scattered by diffuse interplanetary matter).
The Observatory’s geographical location (midway between the solar observatories of the east and west), combined with the excellent quality of the sky for astronomy, led to Teide Observatory being dedicated mainly to the study of the sun. As a consquence, the site hosts the best European solar telescopes, such as the 1.5-metre diameter GREGOR and possibly the future European Solar Telescope (EST), which, with its 4-metre diameter mirror, will be the largest European telescope dedicated to such studies. In 1979, this Observatory became the birthplace of helioseismology (a technique that provides us with an insight into the interior of our star through the study of its internal and surface vibrations).Teide Observatory also hosts other kinds of excellent professional instruments, including standard nocturnal telescopes, robotic and remotely operated telescopes, and experiments to measure the cosmic microwave background radiation. With their help the most important comets in recent years have been monitored, including the collision of Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter, and the compilation of large-scale maps of the Galactic centre.
Izaña - Tenerife
Important discoveries have also been made, such as the first-ever detection of a brown dwarf (Teide 1), exoplanet transits, and confirmation of the presence of microwave background anisotropies (‘cosmosomas’). In the near future traces of the birth of the Universe, in the form of gravitational waves generated a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, could be detected.
The Teide Observatory Residence, which has been in operation since January 1990, aims to provide all scientific and technical staff with the essential services required by an observatory. It consists of a number of features (diurnal and nocturnal dormitories, kitchen and dining room, reception, lounges and recreation rooms, garages, electrical transformer, power generator, and solar panel array).
Among the outreach tasks undertaken by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias to ensure that astronomical knowledge reaches the public at large, school and group visits to the Observatory are organized. For this purpose Teide Observatory has converted an empty telescope dome into an outreach centre. The centre can seat up to forty people and is used to explain to pupils how an observatory is organized, how telescopes work, and the importance of astronomy to mankind.
The Teide Observatory has the following infrastructures
Residence with 14 double rooms
Three four-wheel drive vehicles allocated to the OT administration
A heliport for use in emergencies
Three transformer units (660 KVA)
System of radio links between base station and vehicles
Visitors’ centre: up to 43 people