Is­lands of astron­omy

Sky at Night Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Learn why Tener­ife, La Palma and La Gomera have be­come a Mecca for dark sky seek­ers.

The pitch-black skies of the Ca­nary Is­lands of­fer some of the best views of the cos­mos avail­able on Earth, and the Span­ish archipelago is open­ing its arms to astro tourists, says Inka Piegsa

T hanks to their warm cli­mate, the Ca­nary Is­lands are best known as a year-round hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. Yet the group of seven is­lands, lo­cated in the At­lantic Ocean off the north­west coast of Africa, of­fers a less well known but equally tempt­ing at­trac­tion: some of the dark­est, clear­est night skies in the world.

This nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non has drawn pro­fes­sional as­tronomers to the Ca­nary Is­lands to ob­serve the stars in con­di­tions not found any­where else. Ob­ser­va­to­ries and spe­cialised tele­scopes have been in­stalled on the high peaks of the is­lands of La Palma, Tener­ife and La Gomera.

But it’s not only pro­fes­sional as­tronomers who come to the Ca­naries. Re­cently a new form of leisure travel – astro tourism – has taken hold, and now am­a­teur as­tronomers are trav­el­ling to the Ca­naries in ever greater num­bers. Events, fa­cil­i­ties and tours have sprung up to cater for their needs. So, if you’re tempted to take ad­van­tage of the Is­lands’ dark skies, here’s a guide to the best places to go to marvel at the over­head views…

An im­pres­sive panorama of star trails over Teide vol­cano in Teide Na­tional Park on Tener­ife

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