Star Spotting in Tenerife

As soon as they arrive at the airport, most holidaymakers head for their resorts on Tenerife’s southern coastline for a one or two-week run of sun, sea and sun-lounger.

Away from the popular resorts, an easy drive inland, there’s a magical place where you can spot the stars (not the celebrity kind) bang in the middle of the island and it’s a great excursion if you’re into stars and planets.

Tenerife’s famous Mount Teide National Park, home to the volcano, is also where you’ll find Europe’s largest solar observatory. Drive up there and the views are breathtaking – when it’s clear you can see all the way to Tenerife’s sister islands Gran Canaria and La Palma.

Teide Astro (www.teideastro.com) offers star-watching tours from just over £60 per person, including dinner, while Mount Teide Observatory (www.iac.es) organises tours from springtime onwards, starting in April, through December.

While most of us have heard of Tenerife’s colourful February carnival, we probably missed the island’s Starmus astronomy festival which took place last week. It’s a celebration of fifty years of men on the moon and celebrity stargazer himself, Queen guitarist Brian May, performed in concert.

But if you missed that, there’s a spectacular show of stars to come…

On August 12 and 13 we can expect star studded display by “The Perseids” when star spotters everywhere, not just the Canaries, will be able look up and see around fifty shooting stars an hour. Unfortunately 2011’s Perseids (an annual event) comes right at the same time as a full moon, so it’s best to watch the sky in the early hours, around 2am, when the “show” should gather momentum.

For upcoming meteor shower dates, go to:
http://www.meteorwatch.org/2011/01/04/meteor-showers-for-2011-2012-ones-to-watch/

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