Diamonds in the sky…in Tenerife
For many visitors to Tenerife top of the holiday agenda is sun, relaxing loungers, pools and a lively nightlife. But while some may be tripping the light fantastic on the dance floor there is a whole new breed of tourists to the island who are enjoying a different sort of night-time activity.
Tenerife has been named as one of the world’s best locations for star-gazing thanks to its startlingly clear night sky and low level pollution.
Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been awarded the accolade of ‘Starlight Tourist Destination’ and ‘Starlight Reserve’ by the Starlight Foundation, which aims to preserve clear skies, and cites the island’s clear, dark skies, high altitude and proximity to the equator as being key factors.
Tenerife has been busy building on this sparkling addition to its tourist attractions since Dr Garik Israelian of the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC) dreamed up the Starmus Festival. The festival features astronomy talks, documentary screenings, astrophotography exhibitions and star parties – the first, in 2011, attracted Earth-bound stars like Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, plus astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell.
This year the second festival will take place from September 22nd to 27th and welcomes three more men who walked on the moon: Harrison Schmitt from Apollo 17, Charlie Duke of Apollo 16 and Edward Mitchell of Apollo 14
Tenerife is home to the Teide Observatory, one of the world’s most advanced astronomical observatories from which the entire northern hemisphere and part of the southern hemisphere can be viewed. The observatory has a visitor centre where visitors can learn more about its work, and free tours of the IAC can be booked through www.iac.es . And the MountTeide cable car has introduced a new experience which includes star gazing after sunset while enjoying dinner.
The President of the Tenerife Island Government, Carlos Alonso, said: “Astronomy is becoming a more and more popular activity in Tenerife and we are extremely happy that the TeideNational Park has achieved the ‘Starlight’ seal, recognising the excellent quality of the island’s skies, which keep attracting tourists and scientists from around the world.”
Visitors to CLC World’s three Tenerife resorts can take advantage of year-round good weather to add a post-sunset visit to Mount Teide to the list of ‘must do’ holiday activities.
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias