I’ve started the long task of curating all the pictures I took in 2019 (7229 according to Lightroom!) and will post the ones I like the most over the coming weeks.
I’ll start off with this one though, not because it’s a favourite but because of the intriguing melted rock (lava bomb possibly) in the foreground. It stands on its own and is over 2m high. I tried to image it with the Milky Way but the air to the south west was full of dust from the Sahara and the Milky Way didn’t come out well. Definitely one I’d like to go back to next year when the sky is better as I think there’s an interesting composition to be captured here.
People often ask why we return to the UK in Winter when most people are heading for the warmth of Tenerife. Apart from spending a traditional Christmas at home with family, the answer is that Winter is the time for astronomy in the UK and to be honest, it gets very cold and windy up on Teide in winter, even colder than the NE of England!
I first got interested in running stargazing events thanks to experience and training I was given by the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park partnership and I like to return the favour by supporting the Northumberland National Park with their Dark Skies Programme as a volunteer in the Winter and as you can see from the picture, the skies can be just as good!
We had a couple of bookings this year that had been given as gifts and we thought “what a great idea!”
So here’s an incentive to giving a loved one an out-of-this-world treat this Christmas. All bookings received before Christmas will receive a 15% discount on our list prices and we’ll even design a bespoke Stargazing Experience voucher for you to wrap up for the big day.
I finally found the time to update our customer reviews. Once again we have been blessed to meet some lovely people doing this and made lots of new friends. There´s something about being in the mountains under a glorious starry sky that brings people together and it´s one of the main reasons we love doing this so much. Check out what people have said in the Testimonials tab and honestly, we do publish every review, not just the good ones!
We´re approaching the end of our season here in Tenerife and what a year it has been. We´ve shown many more people the special skies here than last year and have received many, lovely and often touching testimonials. Bookings for 2020 are now open on our website with 9 dates per month available for advanced bookings – we avoid the weeks with the brightest Moon so that everyone gets a chance to see the amazing Milky Way here but we are always up for a Moon watch night too so get in touch if that´s what you´re interested in. As usual, our trips remain private and bespoke and we welcome input from guests who want something extra special or different. We´ve had bookings this year for Christmas and birthday gifts, couples celebrating anniversaries, honeymooners and even a proposal of marriage, which was just a bit special!
Our experience is a very personal one with the most time under the stars of any experience available here and we take you to our secret, dark sky spots away from the tour coaches and headlights where you will experience unspoiled views of the night sky and enjoy the absolute serenity of the mountains. Check out our reviews here, on TripAdvisor and Facebook to see what previous guests have thought of us.
Finally a big thank you to all of guests this year who booked with us, we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting you all and sharing the beauty of the Tenerife night. Clear skies and keep looking up!
For our last two bookings we have trialled a more advanced telescope than our normal one with great results. Our 200mm Newtonian always had excellent optics but as with all scopes of this design such as dobsonians, they do not take kindly to being transported and are rarely at their best after a ride up the mountain. We have had a more advanced Shmidt Cassegrain type of telescope for a while but have reserved this solely for special occasions as it is a much more expensive piece of kit and we were wary of being able to transport it safely. The model is a Celestron C9.25, sometimes known as a planet-killer because of its ability to show planets in high detail and the last two trips showed this to be true with Saturn and Jupiter looking fantastic and showing lots of detail. Shmidt Cassegrain telescopes are high-end telescopes, they offer stunning, high magnification and high contrast views. This evening we were able to make out the dust lanes of the Andromeda Galaxy and the central White Dwarf remnant of the Ring Nebula, not bad at all. Happy skies!
When we’re not taking people up the mountain I sometimes get the opportunity to do some deep sky imaging and recently I had a go at two of the best, The Eagle Nebula made famous by Hubble’s close up of the pillars of creation where stars are being born and The Helix Nebula, also known as “The eye of God”. They’re both too faint to see well in anything but a very large telescope and it takes long exposures with a camera to bring out the amazing colours. We’ve noticed that it’s been much busier up the mountain this year as astro-tourism grows in popularity, fortunately we have access to some secluded spots where we can get away from the headlights, head torches and flashlights that are blighting the main viewing areas in Las Canadas, otherwise it would be a lot harder to get such pictures.
There’s a bit of a heatwave on the south coast at the moment and that has transferred up the mountain too. At 1800m (nearly 500m higher than Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain) it was 25c. At 1am!
The sky low down is dusty and hazy and sunset was subdued compared to normal but when the stars came out it was amazing as usual. The Milky Way was so obvious it needed no introduction and young Luke was first to see it and dad Marcus got his first pictures of it.
Jupiter and Saturn looked magnificent in their respective constellations of Scorpio and Sagittarius and Luke’s brother Ellis got some great pictures of them with his dad’s mobile phone through our telescope. A budding astro photographer without a doubt.
Later in the night we watched the waning Moon rise majestically over a tree-topped ridge bathing the landscape in a cool white glow and casting shadows amongst the trees. We fitted Marcus’s camera to the telescope and got some shots to remember.
We had a glorious night on the mountain last night with guests John, Charlie and Billy. The air was steady and as clear as I’ve seen it. After a stunning sunset accompanied by a one-day-old crescent Moon, we turned our attention to the stars and watched as more and more came out and the Milky Way appeared. We counted 32 shooting stars and doubtless missed more but the highlight for me was Saturn. Under steady skies we were able to see its rings clearly and the Cassini Division was sharp and clear. Cloud bands were visible on the planet’s surface and we could also see Saturn’s five brightest moons – Titan, Rhea, Dione, Enceladus and Tethys. Titan, the giant moon is always an easy spot but to see the other 4 was a bonus, right down to Enceladus which is only 500km in diameter, at a distance of roughly 700 million miles, that’s pretty impressive! Saturn remains well positioned for observing for a few months yet.
There are a couple of decent meteor showers underway and this next week is a great time to see them. A couple of nights ago we saw more than 20 in a couple of hours with two or three memorable ones. As the Moon is not favourable for the peak of the Perseids on the 13th / 14th August, now is the time to catch some!
We have received a lot of bookings of late and now find ourselves almost fully booked for the rest of year. If you’re still hoping to come with us we’d advise you book up asap as there are only a few dates left!
We got back to Tenerife yesterday and straight back up the mountain with guests Hilary and David for sunset and the partial eclipse of the Moon, the last eclipse for two years. It was a lovely evening and even the International Space Station made a flyby over the Moon and Saturn’s rings were also on view.
One of the impressive southern targets we’ve been showing guests recently is Omega Centauri, a huge globular cluster of around 10 million stars. Astronomers believe there is a large black hole at the centre suggesting this it may have its origins as a galaxy rather than a globular cluster. Easily visible to the naked eye and comparable in size to a full Moon, it’s great in binoculars and even better through our large telescope. Here’s a picture we took last night while on the mountain with our deep sky imaging rig.
While prices everywhere sky rocket to take advantage of families on school holiday breaks, 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 that will be educational as well. This coming half-term coincides with a favourable Moon and lots of exciting things to see in the sky.
“Simon provided us with an exceptional stargazing evening during our recent stay in Tenerife. Simon was an extremely welcoming host who took care of all our needs, including specific dietary requirements.
During our time stargazing, Simon’s passion and expertise for the night sky shone through as we made a series of observations via the naked eye, binoculars and telescope.
We would wholeheartedly recommend Dark Skies Tenerife to anyone seeking a personalised stargazing adventure”
We had lovely conditions on Monday evening with guests Benjamin and Bridget, a very mild 16c with barely a breath of wind. After a beautiful sunset we watched the stars come out and spotted Mars glowing orange to the south west. There were many satellites whizzing overhead and some flashing space junk too. After looking at the Moon through binoculars we turned our attention to the two largest globular clusters the sky has to offer. First we looked at M13, the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. The largest of the northern hemisphere clusters, on a less moonlit night you can make this out with the naked eye. Through the binoculars it’s an indistinct smudge of light but through the telescope it’s possible to resolve some of the outer stars and really see that it’s a ball of stars in space. Then we looked at Omega Centauri, the largest globular of them all and despite being a southern hemisphere object, something that is visible from Tenerife at this time of year. In fact, it’s so large that even with a 66% Moon, I could make it out with the naked eye. Omega Centauri contains as many as 10 million stars and through the telescope looks like a huge football of stars. One not to be missed. We then turned the telescope to the Moon and spent time looking at mountains casting shadows over the surface and into craters. We also looked at the general area where Apollo 11 landed 50 years ago this July. Benjamin and Bridget took a great picture of the Moon through the telescope with just a smartphone which is shown here. As Scorpio climbed in the east, Jupiter finally came into view. Through the binoculars we could make out three of the Galilean Moons but in the telescope we could make out all four, plus the horizontal cloud bands and also the Great Red Spot, a great end to a great night.
We’re up the mountain later for some serious stargazing, astronomy and photography with some guests from the north of the island. It’s cloudy where they are but once we drive up through the mar de nubes this is what awaits!
Alex, Sarah and Oliver getting to grips with shooting the Milky Way as it rose over Gran Canaria last night. Conditions were very nice again and the orange light pollution from Gran Canaria makes an interesting colour contrast to the arc of the Milky Way above. There’s also a hint of green air glow too.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. We do not share information with any third parties for the purposes of marketing or for the storage of personal data.