Tacande Observatory, La Palma

These web pages are still in their infancy and much material is yet to appear. Patience, young grasshopper.

Welcome to Tacande Observatory web site. Here you may find material about my observatory and what it is used for. I am Paul Leyland and can be contacted as pcl@brnikat.com. By and large I dislike bloated, flashy pages so most everything you will see here is plain text and, where appropriate, static images. The map below is the notable exception! Please note that Google Maps still has the old information about the observatory and I need to get it updated.

Tacande Observatory was owned by Joan Genebriera until the summer of 2018. That spring he had placed a small for-sale advertisement in Astronomy Now, a magazine I hadn't read for over 20 years. By pure chance I saw his advert and eventually bought the observatory.

observatory

The geographical co-ordinates are 28°38'30" N 17°52'04" W and the altitude is 760m above sea level. The Minor Planet Center observatory code for Tacande Observatory is J22.

La Palma is famous for the quality of its night skies and some of the world's best astronomical observatories are sited at the top of the island at El Roque de los Muchachos, only 11km due north of Tacande. Because Tacande is at an altitude which is about 1500m lower than El Roque, the sky conditions aren't quite as good but they are still first-class and are markedly better than will be found in the vast majority of Europe. Each year has around 280 clear nights, with perhaps another 40 or so which permit some observation through gaps in cloud cover. On clear moonless nights the naked-eye limiting magnitude can be significantly below 6.5, though this depends on one's eyesight of course. The sky-brightness is typically 21.4 magnitudes per square-arcsecond, again assuming clear moonless nights. The seeing can vary greatly. It is usually about 2 to 3 arcseconds FWHM at night and 1-2 arcseconds in the daytime, but turbulence created by high winds has been known to worsen the seeing to over 15 arcseconds!

In principle, the observatory's latitude should permit the observation of anything with declinations north of -62° but that's not possible because it assumes a level southern horizon. The photo above shows the view facing very nearly due south; the horizon is certainly not flat! If the mountains were the only constraint, anything north of around -52° or so would be visible for at least some of the year. The telescopes inside the dome, however, are restricted to the range -47.5° to +77° by the design of their equatorial fork mount.

The equipment at the observatory is used for a range of projects, some of them of genuine scientific interest, some of them just for fun. A range of software is in use, some of it written by me. The main telescope control system is (at present) Windows-based but most of the subsequent data processing runs under Linux.

Astronomy is a big field and no one person can't hope to cover all of it, even were it restricted only to objects which are visible from Tacande. Some pages give a flavour of what I have found interesting and/or useful so far.