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Summer Holidays deal – kids go free!

So while Easter has only just gone, it’s time to start thinking about the Summer holidays and while prices everywhere sky rocket to take advantage of families ours don’t, in fact we are offering all children under the age of 16 go free! Treat your kids to a special experience they’ll never forget and something that will be educational too.

First review for our new Photography Experience

“Our best night in Tenerife.

Our photography experience with Dark Skies was fantastic. From initial contact it was clear that Simon wanted to offer a tour that was exactly what we wanted – asking us questions around the type of photography we wanted to do. He picked us up from our hotel and drove to Tiede to photograph the night sky. Simon was very friendly and knowledgable about astrology and camera techniques. He has clearly met some interesting people and had lots of good stories to tell us on the way up and down the volcano. He let us use his equipment as we had not brought our own on holiday. Afterwards he was very prompt to share the photos we took. Thank you very much for a very memorable evening.” – Tripadvisor

Taking pictures on the mountain
Taking pictures on the mountain

Another good night on the mountain

A good night with guests last night where after a windy but fabulous sunset we travelled to one of the few spots that are sheltered when the wind blows that hard and enjoyed a lovely night under the stars.

The Orion Nebula (Messier 42) was visible to the naked eye, looked great in binoculars and fantastic close up in the telescope with our new high-end eyepiece. You could clearly see the central stars of The Trapezium and details of the gas and dust clouds. We’re getting towards the end of Orion season and Orion was already low in the sky but this stargazing location allows us to see it right down to the horizon and conditions were fair to us with it remaining clear until very low. To the right we were able to see the famous star cluster, The Pleiades or Seven Sisters (Subaru in Japanese) another excellent binocular target and overhead, the Beehive Cluster in Cancer was dazzling. The constellation of Auriga, The Charioteer offered its usual collection of small clusters that are great fun to surf with binoculars and we saw many, very bright satellites, one or two moving very quickly. After a slow start we spotted a few shooting stars maintaining our record of never having had a night without them!

Towards the end of the stargazing, Hercules was rising in the North and we watched the famous globular cluster Messier 13, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere, looking like a glowing football of stars. If you haven’t seen a glob before, they are quite fascinating to look at. Then, what a finale! As we were waiting in the hope of one last shooting star we were rewarded with a super-bright fireball almost directly overhead that we all saw and which lasted around 1.5 to maybe 2 seconds, a long time for a shooting star. This appeared to be quite low in the atmosphere with a very bright and greenish head and a very obvious trail left behind it, almost like a firework would do. We wouldn’t have been surprised to heard the sound of an impact but if this had made it to the earth it most likely fell in the sea, although La Gomera was in its line of direction!

On the way home we were rewarded in seeing the waning Moon rising over the crater walls of Las Canadas and stopped for a closer look with the binoculars. Just spectacular. A little further on and we could just see Jupiter rising on the horizon and stopped once more to look at that in the binoculars too. The giant planet showing clearly as a disc rather than a twinkly star. All in all a very good night of stargazing, bring on the next one! Clear skies everyone!

April full Moon

So while we had a very clear sky, it was very windy with high gusts and the planetary imaging we were hoping to do wasn’t possible. We did get this image of people waiting on the summit of Teide for sunset and a video of the full Moon setting behind. If you play it at HD you’ll be able to make out a couple of tiny climbers making their way up the ridge to where the main group is. You might also notice some torchlights flashing in the dark. It was a very cold one but to watch the Moon setting over El Teide as the sun began to rise was quite breathtaking and I’ll be watching every one I can from now on and judging by the number of people I saw, I’m not the only one impressed by it. While it is the stars that always get the “star” billing, we often forget how quite majestic the Moon can be especially when coupled with El Teide’s incredible landscapes. Clear skies everyone, hope you enjoy the video.

Milky Way movie

We shot this timelapse of the Milky Way as it rose in the east from a spot off the Esperanza road. It’s only accessible with a 4×4 and care but the view is fantastic. The lights of Gran Canaria can be seen in the left half of the frame and the glow to the right is from the Granadilla megaport and industrial area. Watch for the brightly lit cruise ship scooting by from right to left. Click on the image to access the movie.

Milky Way rising

Sunset and full Moon rise special

Our next sunset and full Moon rise special is on Friday 19th April when there will be the opportunity to watch the Sun go down on one side of the island and straight after watch a full Moon rise from the sea on the other side. There’ll be plenty of stars to see too and we’ll have our camera to make sure you get some special pics to take home. There aren’t many places where you can experience this and it is very special. Check out the pics below from the last one we did. More details here.

Milky Way!

We had a great night on the mountain in the early hours to catch the rise of the Milky Way and have many pictures to process when we find time. Here are a couple of quick edits showing just how stunning the Milky Way is from Tenerife’s clear skies. Back up tonight with more guests for some stargazing, no rest for the wicked! Clear skies and keep looking up!

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Another super review!

Charlotte and family, March 2019

“Without a doubt, the highlight of our Tenerife trip – Incredible experience with wonderful hosts!
We decided we wanted to find a stargazing tour which was more bespoke than the group tours after reading reviews about having to spend time picking others up from their hotels. I went onto the Trip Advisor Tenerife forum for recommendations and was told by a couple of people to contact Simon from Dark Skies and I’m so pleased we did!

From first point of contact, Simon was incredibly communicative, informative and friendly. He was on email regularly before going out and told me we could coordinate the tour to anywhere we would like to go but due to his extensive knowledge of the Teide area, he knows the best places to see the sunset and watch the stars – I would highly recommended conversing with him on this.

We were picked up by Simon & Margaret outside our apartment in Puerto De La Cruz and drove through La Orotava into the mountains and up to the peaks of Tenerife overlooking Mount Teide. At the first stop we spent a wonderful time watching the sunset, relaxing with delicious home cooked tapas, cava & red wine whilst overlooking the most spectacular views ever!

Simon is also a great photographer and has his own SLR camera, which meant we were also able to take some high resolution family & landscape photos, which we can now blow up and frame.

I can’t thank them enough for providing us with not only a highly professional service but wonderful whole personal experience. Simon & Margaret were very warm, fun company to have there and Simon’s knowledge is incredible! We also loved all the various facts they both gave us about the Volcano, Stargazing and on Tenerife history too.

Our next stop was to watch the stars at night and look at the moon through the telescope. We were the only people there and it was incredibly atmospheric looking up at the stars. Margaret was a wonderful host and made sure we were warm, provided with deserts and made sure we had plenty of hot drinks & blankets later in the evening.

Their fees are also very reasonable and near the same price as the group coach tours – without all the fuss of picking people up and having the share the telescope with lots of others!

This is a perfect tour for couples, families of all ages and individuals looking for a really special, and more personally tailored, trip to Teide and evening stargazing.”

We will definitely be doing another tour with them when next in Tenerife and look forward to seeing them again!

Zodiacal light, Teide with snow and the Milky Way

On a recent trip up the mountain we were lucky enough to see the ethereal Zodiacal Light reaching up to the Milky Way. Note the snow on Teide too, it was very cold and we were pleased for the blankets and hot drinks. This phenomenon is only visible from the darkest, clearest skies a couple of times of the year.

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Sunset and Super Moon rise report

What a fabulous night! Apart from welcoming back guests Stuart and Marie for their second experience, Tenerife offered up another special night. A stunning drive through Las Canadas during the “golden hour” before sunset showed off the lava formations and colours to their absolute best and every turn of the road brought another breathtaking sight into view. Stuart and Marie know the borders and highlands of Scotland well and we’re from Northumberland which also has some very beautiful and unspoiled landscapes but we all agreed that Las Canadas is something quite special. It’s just so different, so obviously volcanic and rugged and savage looking, yet it displays beautiful colours and majestic rock formations and the scale of it is breathtaking. When you look a little more closely though, there is vegetation thriving almost everywhere and soon the bee keepers will be moving the hives from lower altitudes into the crater to take advantage of the spring flowers that will soon colour the crater floor. Another of Tenerife’s surprises.

Then the sunset was excellent, with Teide dominating the skyline and the Sun sinking into a very busy sea of clouds with the two humps of the island of La Palma in the background looking on and then there were the oddly shaped clouds that amassed alongside Teide, looking like a weird flying pack of alien jellyfish. Plenty to talk about during the cava and a delicious picnic before we drove to a spot that overlooked the east coast and with the lights of the island of Gran Canaria visible in the dusk way below us, the most incredible Moon began to rise. At the beginning it was the colour of a blood orange as just a sliver was visible between the sea and a thin line of cloud but soon it was fully up and so big, bright and orange it looked more like the sunset we’d just witnessed on the other side of the island than the Moon rising. It was breathtakingly impressive and a definite “wow” moment. This was the last so called “super moon” of the year, when the Moon is closer in its orbit to Earth than normal, so it appears a bit larger and a bit brighter. This one certainly did that. As it appears so close the Spring Equinox (and the first to do this for thirty years), it gets the nickname of the “worm Moon” supposedly as earthworms can only start to surface from the ground once winter is over and the ground has thawed. No doubt an ancient name given when people were more connected to nature. As the Moon rose, it began to take shape, albeit malformed due to the clouds and thermals of the atmosphere low to the horizon and the features of the Moon were apparent in sharp contrast.

Whilst we also gazed at the constellations, the fabulous Orion Nebula and The Pleiades through binoculars and telescope, saw a meteor and some satellites, the star of the show was undoubtedly the Moon. Once fully risen and steady in the sky, we zoomed in on it with the telescope (using a very strong polarising filter to avoid risk of eye damage) and saw craters close up and in high relief but nothing surpassed those minutes watching the Moon rise up from the sea. I’ve seen the Moon rise many times and if I never see it again, I don’t care because I’m happy to have seen this one and won’t ever forget it.

 

Stunning new locations for stargazing

I spent an enjoyable day yesterday on the mountain hunting out new spots for stargazing with our guests. Found three absolute crackers with wonderful scenery and best of all they are well away from the main roads, headlights and places where the other tour companies go. Off-road locations aren’t sign posted and are generally only accessible with a 4×4 with good ground clearance. They’re often not for the faint hearted but the reward when you find one is usually spectacular. Super-thrilled to have found these and can’t wait to take some guests there. Check out this amazing backdrop to one of the spots.

We love taking people stargazing and we love that they love it too!

March 2019 – had a fantastic tour experience with Dark Skies Tenerife. From word go they were professional and responsive to my pre-holiday emails. I wanted to find a private tour that would be flexible with my timings as we have young children. Simon and Margaret were so helpful in accommodating my requests. The trip itself was amazing. We stopped at a lovely viewpoint with Teide and other volcanos to enjoy a wonderfully prepared tapas picnic with cava whilst watching the sunset. When ready we continued on up the mountain to a high remote spot for our stargazing experience. Here we were treated to some knowledgeable insight into the sky above us. Simon used his laser pointer to describe the various constellations and nebulas and we also benefited from being able to get close up views with an incredibly powerful telescope. The commentary and insight provided us with a really good understanding of the night sky and was exteremely enjoyable. Simon was knowledgable and entertaining and the hours zipped by. I would highly recommend this tour. Particularly good if you don’t want to be bothered with driving round lots of hotels for pick ups and want a tour that is both informative and entertaining. Thank you Simon and Margaret. Liz

Photo gallery

We just added a photo gallery to our site to showcase our best images. If you want to learn how to take great pictures like these, get in touch.

Check out our pics here

Milky Way season photography trips

The Dark Skies Tenerife Photography experience – take the opportunity to image the Milky Way under some of the best skies in the world! We will pick you up at your hotel, take you to the El Teide National Park for 2 hours of nightscape photography in several locations and then bring you back to your hotel. Overall duration will be around 4 hours. We provide a full frame DSLR with several lens options, remote trigger, a couple of tripods and a star tracking mount. You can of course bring your own equipment. Full instruction is available to ensure you get those wow shots and we can even post-process them for you.

Cost is £100pp. Max group size will be 4. Hot and cold drinks included.

Discounts are available for groups and repeat bookings, please enquire.

A look ahead to March skies

The month ahead with thanks to Dave Eagle:

March sky guide

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What’s up this week?

The week ahead courtesy of BBC Sky at Night. Happy stargazing!

http://e.skyatnightmagazine.com/q/1filIDOhWNdHBUVBDnwHHln/wv

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Sunset and Moon rise special

We’re really looking forward to these trips where we will watch while the sun sets and the full Moon rises at almost the same time! It promises to be spectacular and an opportunity for some great photos. We’ll study the Moon up close in our telescope and check out where Apollo 11 landed 50 years ago! Dates in March and June have already gone. Happy stargazing!

More details here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sunset-and-full-moonrise-special-tour-tickets-54277129355

El Teide casts a shadow at sunset
Full moon

Monkey’s Head anyone?

It’s funny the things you come across when gazing out into the Universe. This nebula in the constellation of Orion is aptly called the Monkey’s Head. I took this in 2018 and will be hoping to have another go at it next month. Happy stargazing!

A Monkey’s head floating in space

Tenerife holidaymakers missing out?

According to a recent Government study into tourism on Tenerife, fewer than 2.6% of holidaymakers experience a stargazing excursion. So many people are missing out on a truly remarkable experience and the Government are committed to do more to promote stargazing. They also plan to improve the facilities in the National Park and to better regulate excursion operators, something we would certainly welcome. However, part of the attraction of stargazing in the National Park is the opportunity to go somewhere very dark and secluded where you can see the night sky at its best, so any strategy to increase visitor numbers needs to include the need to control light pollution and prevent damage to this unique environment.

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In the dark

So many stars!

The Orion constellation is prominent in our winter skies and an area of the sky that is chock full of colourful nebulae, galaxies, clusters and stars. Nebulae with such colourful names as The Cosmic Bat, Horsehead, The Running Man, Casper the Friendly Ghost and the Witchhead. This picture we took earlier this week with a standard DSLR camera shows what’s hiding from the naked eye but which can be seen on one of our excursions through our telescope or by using a camera. Happy stargazing!

Click here for the high-res version and make sure you zoom in! https://flic.kr/p/2eAfTfg