THE CANARIES, ISLANDS OF ASTRONOMY
Islands of astronomy
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