His Majesty the King, accompanied by the President of the Government of the Canaries, Paulino Rivero, and the Minister of Public Works, Ana Pastor, among other authorities and personnel of the Institute of Astrophysics, presided over the ceremonies at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, last Saturday, June 27th. The ceremony, attended by 200 invited guests, was covered very widely by the media.
The programme started with the inauguration of the telescopes newly installed at the Teide Observatory: the QUIJOTE experiment, and the robotic telescopes LCOGT, MASTER, QES, SLOOH/OTA, MAGEC, and AMOS-CI (for more information see the the press release). The King unveiled the plaques for each of these telescopes, and listened to the explanations of the scientists in charge. The Director of the IAC, Rafael Rebolo, explained to him personally the working and the scientific objectives of the two telescopes belonging to the QUIJOTE experiment.
After that, in a marquee specially prepared for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Canary Observatories, a video produced in collaboration with TVE was shown to all those attending. Rafael Rebolo, as Director of the IAC gave the first speech, followed by Francisco Sánchez, the Founding Director of the IAC. Subsequently, speeches were delivered by Carlos, Alonso, the President of the Tenerife Island Council (Cabildo), Carmen Vela del Olmo, the Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation of the Ministry of Economics and Competitivity (MINECO), Ana Pastor, the Minister of Public Works, and Paulino Rivero, the President of the Government of the Canaries.
All of them praised the work carried out at the IAC and the Canary Island Observatories during these past 30 years, and the support which they have always received from the Crown. Finally His Majesty the King, in his speech, pointed out that the celebration of this anniversary, and the inauguration of the new installations, were possible thanks to “the scientific vocation of our country, the extraordinary quality of the skies over the Canaries, and international collaborations which are always fruitful”. He congratulated the IAC and the Observatories for the three decades of productive work, and expressed his wish for every success in the future challenges, represented by the attempt to bring the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and the European Solar Telescope (EST) to the Islands. He also took the opportunity, during his speech, to express his condolences for the victims of the recent attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, Somalia, and France.
Afterwards Don Felipe travelled to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Island of La Palma, where he carried out observations with the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) the largest telescope in the world.
The King observes with the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS
He also visits the MAGIC telescopes and takes an interest in the Cherenkov Telescope Array which may be installed at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory
His Majesty the King, after the ceremony at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, the inauguration of new telescopes and the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Canary Observatories, travelled to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, on the Island of La Palma, where he participated in a night’s observations with the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) the biggest telescope in the world. He was accompanied by the Minister of Public Works, Ana Pastor, the delegate of the Government in the Canary Islands, María del Carmen Hernández Benito, the Director General of the Canary Agency for Research, Innovation, and the Information Society (ACIISI) of the Government of the Canaries, Juan Ruiz Alzola, and personnel of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries (IAC), among them the Director, Rafael Rebolo, and the Founding Director of the IAC, Francisco Sánchez.
Don Felipe was received at the Observatory by the President of the Island Council (Cabildo) of La Palma, Anselmo Pestana, and the Mayor of Garafía, Martín Taño, as well as by the Directors of the various European telescopes in the Observatory.
From interacting galaxies to a black hole
After a brief explanation of the history of the GTC by its Director, Pedro Álvarez, his Majesty the King took part in a programme of observations directed by the Head of Astronomy of the telescope, Antonio Cabrera, and with the support of operators and engineers of the GTC. As well as the authorities mentioned above, the Subdirector of the IAC, Carlos Martínez Roger also took part, and in addition, the Research Coordinator of the IAC, Enric Pallé, the administrator of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, Juan Carlos Pérez Arencibia, and the President of the Time Allocation Committee for the Canary Island telescopes and researcher at the IAC, Romano Corradi.
The scientific programme included observations of galaxies in interaction, of a cluster of galaxies detected by the Planck satellite, of the nucleus of comet Lovejoy, and of planetary nebulae, as well as spectroscopic observations of the binary system V404 in the constellation of Cygnus, whose black hole is at the moment in an eruptive phase, as was announced recently in the EWASS 2015 astronomical conference celebrated in Tenerife.
The following morning the King, Don Felipe, made an unscheduled visit to the installations of MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes) where he was given explanations about the gamma-ray astronomy performed with these telescopes. He was also informed about the possible siting of the northern section of the CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. He showed interest in the details of the large telescope, of 23 metre diameter, of this array, the LST1, whose first stone will be laid at the Observatory next October. The King also showed interest in the 100xCiencia conference, which will bring together all the Severo Ochoa Centres of Excellence and key communications media in the Island of La Palma, also next October.