Above the clouds of the trade winds

Who doesn’t know them, the “islands of eternal spring”! Seven in number, the Canary Islands are known above all for their tourism and scenic beauty. At about 28 degrees northern latitude, they lie off the southern coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tenerife is the largest of them and also the highest, with the Pico del Teide (3718 metres), the highest mountain in Spain. Less well known is the fact that Tenerife and its neighbour island La Palma are excellent places for exploring our cosmos by day and by night. At the edge of the Teide National Park, at an altitude of 2400 metres, lies the Observatorio del Teide.

It is one of the best places in the world for astronomical research. The trade winds from the northeast create a “sea of clouds” at about 1500 metres above sea level, which shields the regions above and brings with it dry and clear air at altitude. These excellent conditions led to the founding of the observatory on Izaña in the 1980s. Today, in addition to Spain with the Institute of Astrophysics, numerous other nations operate telescopes for scientific research purposes on Tenerife.

On 28 October 2021 it was that time again and I landed on Tenerife for a week of work (and a bit of holiday). I have been travelling to Tenerife for astronomy for over 25 years. It started with astronomical observations for my diploma thesis at the Observatorio del Teide and continued with numerous astronomical/astrophotographic workshops until today.  Then, a few years ago, I started a collaboration with the IAC in the field of science communication, followed by a publication in 2018 for the 10th anniversary of GRANTECAN (Gran Telescopio Canarias). The current trip is in preparation for another project together with the IAC and the observatories on Tenerife and La Palma. Enclosed are a few impressions of Tenerife, as I love it.

Instituto Astrofísica de Canarias: