The huge telescopes on the peak of Roque de los Muchachos belong to the island’s astronomical observatory, one of the world’s best places to study the night sky and in 2012 deemed the world's first Unesco-certified Starlight Reserve. The mammoth Grantecan (Gran Telescopio Canarias; GTC) at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos boasts one of the world’s largest telescopes and the largest single-aperture optical telescope on the planet. The observatory can be visited by booking a tour.
Guides who are authorised to conduct visits to the observatory can be found through Cielos-La Palma (www.cielos-lapalma.es).
The observatory allows scientists to study the formation and evolution of the galaxies throughout the history of the universe as well as investigate the stars and observe the rings of spatial material that give birth to new planets. Far from urban centres and city lights, La Palma is an ideal place to stargaze. More than 75% of the nights here on El Roque are clear, a statistic that’s hard to beat.
La Palma’s observatory is linked with the Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife, and together they form the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC).