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www.hellocanaryislands.com
Blog Islas Canarias OFFICIAL CANARY ISLANDS
TOURISM BLOG
www.hellocanaryislands.com

La Palma: A Heaven for Stargazing


Highlights
How to Enjoy Carnival on Tenerife
Deserted beach and abandoned salt pans in Lanzarote
La Palma: A Heaven for Stargazing
Experience participating in Transgrancanaria
A Road Trip Around the North of Fuerteventura
A Journey to the end of the World, or to Punta de Orchilla
Diversity on the rocks: Hundreds of unique species
La Gomera, the romantic getaway
Following a Tapas Route on Tenerife
Enjoy a trek to the highest point in Lanzarote
Fiesta de la Cruz on La Palma
Gran Canaria’s Other Rock: Sacred Roque Bentayga
A day in the outback of Fuerteventura
Walking to the Beautiful Valley on La Gomera
"Fototrek” an amazing annual photographic adventure in El Hierro
An incredible Whale & Dolphin watching experience in Tenerife
The secret white sand beaches of Lanzarote
On the sunny side: Los Llanos de Aridane
Exploring South Fuerteventura by Car
The Best Bit of Las Canteras Beach is Underwater
La Gomera, lush and beautiful
Paragliding above the valley of El Hierro. What an experience!
Three ways to enjoy Teide in Tenerife
Tasting Lanzarote: Cosecha 2015
La Palma, a taste of the tropics
Jardín Canario Viera y Clavijo, one of the highlights of Gran Canaria
From a Magic Spring to a Secret Lake, Five Curiosities on La Gomera
Jinama and Charco Azul
Amazing boat excursion to the Archipiélago Chinijo marine reserve
Lanzarote sunrises
La Palma: a Treasure Trove of landscapes in One Island
Viewpoint Mirador de la Peña, the smallest hotel of the world and the giant lizard
A Hike Around Gran Canaria's Volcanic Hotspot
Fuerteventura, Strong Wind
La Gomera: A day visiting dolphins and whales
Lanzarote fishing: Fresh fish for lunch
Exploring the Historic Centre of La Laguna
“Ruta de la Tapa” in Valverde
Driving the Las Mimbreras road
Discover the Beautiful North of Lanzarote by Car
Excursion to the Isla de Lobos
La Gomera – a rural tourism paradise
Festival of La Bajada de la Virgen de los Reyes
A morning in Santa Cruz de La Palma
The water route, Valverde and the Bonanza rock
Exploring the San Juan Volcano
Vegueta: Time Travel In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Old Town
Why You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Trekking Masca in Tenerife
Experience Tinajo: Rural traditions and breathtaking natural beauty
A lovely stroll around Villa de Valverde
A Spring Tour Of Gran Canaria
Through the back roads of El Paso
Relaxation and wellbeing, enjoying Lanzarote´s natural treasures
A trip along the coast of El Golfo, El Hierro
Exploring the Highs and Lows of Puerto de Mogán
Why You Will Absolutely Love Exploring Amazing La Graciosa
The Wild North of La Palma
Tenerife, best locations and the British favourite hotspots
Enjoy the best of Lanzarote at Noches de Jameos
Relish the thrill and views of El Faro La Entallada, in Fuerteventura
Menceyes and our Lady of Candelaria, in Tenerife
The Wine Run Lanzarote: food, wine and scenery
Experience the beauty of the pink caves of Puertito de Los Molinos
A Saturday in the beautiful village of Haría, Lanzarote
A must do in Fuerteventura – Picnic in the dunes of Corralejo
Playa San Juan in Tenerife, a charming place
A walk along the El Golfo ridge, El Hierro
The five best places to eat in Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura
A cup of coffee at Casa José Saramago, Lanzarote
Why Forestal Park is One of the Best Experiences in Tenerife
San Sebastián, the high part of Santa Cruz de La Palma
Sunset On The Rocks At Puerto de Mogán in Gran Canaria
A walk from San Andrés to Hoya del Morcillo, El Hierro
Enjoyment for the active traveller – Climb the Volcanic Mount Roja
Teguise: immerse yourself in Lanzarote’s history
How to Enjoy a Stunning Walk in Tenerife from Playa San Juan to Los Gigantes
Tazacorte, in La Palma: more than just a sun trap
Art, Architecture and Frogs in Gran Canaria's Garden City
Carnival time on El Hierro
One of the best family days out in Fuerteventura
Journey to another planet at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
From the sea to the sky, a circular drive in South Tenerife
A journey through La Palma’s plant world
Los Carneros de Tigaday, El Hierro
Relaxing Weekend staying in the picture perfect beaches of El Cotillo – Fuerteventura
Lanzarote’s southwest coastline: where ocean meets lava
How to Enjoy North Tenerife and Wine Tasting in One Amazing Trip
A trip around La Palma’s south coast
The Quiet South Gran Canaria Beach With Two Names
What to explore, How to get there and where to stay in San Sebastian the capital of La Gomera.
Relax by the sea in El Tamaduste
The best olive oil in Fuerteventura – Verde Aurora Bio Farm
Hiking in La Geria: a bird’s eye view of the volcanoes
How to Enjoy a Unique Excursion Around Stunning Santa Cruz
El Tablado, La Palma’s remotest settlement
Swimming And Snorkelling At El Puertillo in North Gran Canaria
Enjoy a morning at the local produce Market in San Sebastián de La Gomera
A tour around El Hierro’s “Mirador’s”
Betancuria, the ancient capital in the mountains of Fuerteventura
How to Enjoy an Easy Adventure from Puerto del Carmen to Puerto Calero
A walk across Llano de Las Cuevas in La Palma
How to Enjoy a Superb Luxury Sailing Trip in Tenerife
From Jungle To Desert at Maspalomas In South Gran Canaria
The sweetness of La Gomera and the Canary Islands – Palm Syrup
Cycling on El Hierro is a great way to see the Island
Isla de Lobos, a natural Paradise
Volcanoes, wine and British history in Lanzarote
The mini-Volcano Route, La Palma
How To Try And Do Tenerife From Top To Bottom In Three Days
Playa Santiago – A glorious mesh of sleepy fishing village and luxury hotel complex
A Day at the Canaribbean In Gran Canaria
Hermigua, the beautiful tropical valley of La Gomera with a Gofio Museum
How to Enjoy Authentic Lanzarote at the Lovely El Charco de San Ginés
La Gomera’s longest beach in the Valley of the great king – Valle Gran Rey
The Charm of Vallehermoso – The Beautiful Valley in La Gomera
How to Discover La Gomera With an Amazing Jeep Safari Adventure
Calle Cano: A Las Palmas Street Where Old And New Blend Together
Related
articles
Deserted beach and abandoned salt pans in Lanzarote
Experience participating in Transgrancanaria
A Journey to the end of the World, or to Punta de Orchilla
Diversity on the rocks: Hundreds of unique species
La Gomera, the romantic getaway
Enjoy a trek to the highest point in Lanzarote
Gran Canaria’s Other Rock: Sacred Roque Bentayga
A day in the outback of Fuerteventura
Walking to the Beautiful Valley on La Gomera
"Fototrek” an amazing annual photographic adventure in El Hierro
La Gomera, lush and beautiful
Paragliding above the valley of El Hierro. What an experience!
Three ways to enjoy Teide in Tenerife
Jardín Canario Viera y Clavijo, one of the highlights of Gran Canaria
From a Magic Spring to a Secret Lake, Five Curiosities on La Gomera
Jinama and Charco Azul
La Palma: a Treasure Trove of landscapes in One Island
A Hike Around Gran Canaria's Volcanic Hotspot
Fuerteventura, Strong Wind
Outdoor Living Lanzarote
The water route, Valverde and the Bonanza rock
Exploring the San Juan Volcano
Why You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Trekking Masca in Tenerife
Experience Tinajo: Rural traditions and breathtaking natural beauty
A Spring Tour Of Gran Canaria
A walk along the El Golfo ridge, El Hierro
Why Forestal Park is One of the Best Experiences in Tenerife
A walk from San Andrés to Hoya del Morcillo, El Hierro
Enjoyment for the active traveller – Climb the Volcanic Mount Roja
Journey to another planet at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
A journey through La Palma’s plant world
Hiking in La Geria: a bird’s eye view of the volcanoes
A walk across Llano de Las Cuevas in La Palma
Cycling on El Hierro is a great way to see the Island
Volcanoes, wine and British history in Lanzarote
The mini-Volcano Route, La Palma
www.hellocanaryislands.com
Previous article
21 Mar 2016

La Palma is the best place for stargazing in Europe. Just ask the professionals: they've brought their biggest telescopes here.

It's an hour's drive from Santa Cruz to the observatory at 2,400 m (7959ft). As you climb the twisty road, the palm trees and fields give way to laurel forest and then pines. You drive into fog and the forest becomes mysterious, until the grey turns silver and then - POP! - you're out into brilliant sunshine. A little higher and you're looking down on the clouds. Most days they look like cotton wool, as though they'd be delightful to jump on.

Vistas de Tenerife y La Gomera

The first time you see a professional observatory, the telescopes look surreal. The hillside is dotted with buildings, eleven of them crowned with domes. Gran Telescopio Canarias is bright silver, and as tall as a twelve-story tower block. It's the biggest telescope in the world for light your eyes can see. The MAGIC gamma-ray telescope is perhaps even more impressive because it hasn't got a dome at all. Its two huge mirrors, each 56 ft across, are open to the sky. The whole hillside looks like the set for a science fiction film.

This is an amazing place to watch the sunset. The sun sinks into the clouds or the sea below you, so that your own shadow on the ground is impossibly long. The shadow of the island streams away over the sea to the east. The colours are usually glorious, and those white and silver telescope domes reflect them all. If you're lucky, the last tiny segment of the sun will flash as green as a granny smith apple for half a second before it disappears. The Irish say that seeing the green flash makes you wise in love.

The glow in the sky fades and the first stars glimmer. You'll be sad when it's time to leave. Several of these telescopes could see a candle on the moon, and even hand-held torches are quite enough to ruin their observations. So half an hour after sunset, the night staff close the barrier on the road.

Telescopios del Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos

The Monument to Infinity

It's not a problem. All you have to do is drive ten minutes back towards Santa Cruz to the Monument to Infinity. This is a tall sculpture by César Manrique commissioned for the opening of the observatory, which symbolises the union of the earth and the cosmos. Once you're out of sight of the telescopes, lights don't matter. You can either stay by the car or hike for fifteen minutes up to the monument itself, and wait for the twilight to fade to black. Then you'll see the stars the way they looked before the industrial revolution, all the way back to the Neanderthals. There's no light pollution and no air pollution. If there's no moon, the sky is crammed with over three thousand stars. So many, that it becomes hard to see the constellations if you only know them from the UK's light-polluted skies.

They're also displaced. It's surprising to see the Pole Star so low down in the sky, until you remember that La Palma's much closer to the equator than the UK. For the same reason, you can see much farther south. From late August to April look for Orion, one of the most recognisable constellations. Below it is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (except for the sun). And below that is Canopus, almost as bright. You can never see Canopus from the UK, but you can here! It was sacred to the Awara, the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of La Palma. They believed it protected them from drought because Canopus is visible for the months when it rains.

Stargazing with Binoculars

Bring binoculars if you can. There are special binoculars for astronomy, but even the ones birdwatchers use will give you a better view than Galileo ever had. His largest telescope was 3.5 cm in diameter, which is the same light-collecting area as 8x25 binoculars, but the modern lenses are much, much better.

Estrella Canopus

If Venus is blazing in the west, take a look. It might be a crescent, because Venus waxes and wanes like the moon. This was one of the discoveries that got Galileo into so much trouble with the church. Mercury does the same, although that's harder to see. If you can find Jupiter, binoculars will show you at least three small bright dots in line with it, usually four. These are Jupiter's big moons and they got Galileo into trouble too. Io is covered in volcanoes like the one you're standing on. Europa, Ganymede and Callisto have oceans under a thick layer of ice, and perhaps there's life in those oceans.

If the moon is up, scan the craters through binoculars. You'll get the best view near the terminator, the line that divides the sunlit and unlit parts, where the crater walls cast long shadows.

The Monument to Infinity stands at 6,500 ft above sea level and sometimes it's so cold that by eleven o'clock, exposed skin tingles. Luckily there's a whole network of places for stargazing on La Palma, called astronomical viewpoints (miradores astronómicos). All the others are at lower altitude and therefore warmer. Each one has parking space, level ground to set up telescopes, a signpost pointing at the pole star (complete with the distance in light years or kilometres) and information panels. No matter which way the wind blows, it's a rare night when none of them are clear.

Stargazing Safaris

It's even better to go stargazing with professionals. There are three firms on La Palma which take out small groups with good amateur telescopes to rave reviews on TripAdvisor. It's not just the telescopes – they're experts who know the best viewpoint to observe whatever the weather, the best things to look at at any time of the year, and how to explain what you're looking at. A 20 cm to 30 cm telescope won't give you a view of Saturn like NASA's photos, but there's something very special about seeing the rings for yourself. On a good night you might be able to see Jupiter's famous Red Spot, a hurricane twice the size of the Earth which has been raging for at least 350 years. Keen amateurs can also rent a telescope locally, up to 18”/ 43 cm, which is much easier than bringing your own. Although the professional nightscape photographers of The World At Night bring their own kit to take amazing photos here. They love La Palma's night sky and so will you!

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Highlights
How to Enjoy Carnival on Tenerife
Deserted beach and abandoned salt pans in Lanzarote
La Palma: A Heaven for Stargazing
Experience participating in Transgrancanaria
A Road Trip Around the North of Fuerteventura
A Journey to the end of the World, or to Punta de Orchilla
Diversity on the rocks: Hundreds of unique species
La Gomera, the romantic getaway
Following a Tapas Route on Tenerife
Enjoy a trek to the highest point in Lanzarote
Fiesta de la Cruz on La Palma
Gran Canaria’s Other Rock: Sacred Roque Bentayga
A day in the outback of Fuerteventura
Walking to the Beautiful Valley on La Gomera
"Fototrek” an amazing annual photographic adventure in El Hierro
An incredible Whale & Dolphin watching experience in Tenerife
The secret white sand beaches of Lanzarote
On the sunny side: Los Llanos de Aridane
Exploring South Fuerteventura by Car
The Best Bit of Las Canteras Beach is Underwater
La Gomera, lush and beautiful
Paragliding above the valley of El Hierro. What an experience!
Three ways to enjoy Teide in Tenerife
Tasting Lanzarote: Cosecha 2015
La Palma, a taste of the tropics
Jardín Canario Viera y Clavijo, one of the highlights of Gran Canaria
From a Magic Spring to a Secret Lake, Five Curiosities on La Gomera
Jinama and Charco Azul
Amazing boat excursion to the Archipiélago Chinijo marine reserve
Lanzarote sunrises
La Palma: a Treasure Trove of landscapes in One Island
Viewpoint Mirador de la Peña, the smallest hotel of the world and the giant lizard
A Hike Around Gran Canaria's Volcanic Hotspot
Fuerteventura, Strong Wind
La Gomera: A day visiting dolphins and whales
Lanzarote fishing: Fresh fish for lunch
Exploring the Historic Centre of La Laguna
“Ruta de la Tapa” in Valverde
Driving the Las Mimbreras road
Discover the Beautiful North of Lanzarote by Car
Excursion to the Isla de Lobos
La Gomera – a rural tourism paradise
Festival of La Bajada de la Virgen de los Reyes
A morning in Santa Cruz de La Palma
The water route, Valverde and the Bonanza rock
Exploring the San Juan Volcano
Vegueta: Time Travel In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Old Town
Why You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Trekking Masca in Tenerife
Experience Tinajo: Rural traditions and breathtaking natural beauty
A lovely stroll around Villa de Valverde
A Spring Tour Of Gran Canaria
Through the back roads of El Paso
Relaxation and wellbeing, enjoying Lanzarote´s natural treasures
A trip along the coast of El Golfo, El Hierro
Exploring the Highs and Lows of Puerto de Mogán
Why You Will Absolutely Love Exploring Amazing La Graciosa
The Wild North of La Palma
Tenerife, best locations and the British favourite hotspots
Enjoy the best of Lanzarote at Noches de Jameos
Relish the thrill and views of El Faro La Entallada, in Fuerteventura
Menceyes and our Lady of Candelaria, in Tenerife
The Wine Run Lanzarote: food, wine and scenery
Experience the beauty of the pink caves of Puertito de Los Molinos
A Saturday in the beautiful village of Haría, Lanzarote
A must do in Fuerteventura – Picnic in the dunes of Corralejo
Playa San Juan in Tenerife, a charming place
A walk along the El Golfo ridge, El Hierro
The five best places to eat in Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura
A cup of coffee at Casa José Saramago, Lanzarote
Why Forestal Park is One of the Best Experiences in Tenerife
San Sebastián, the high part of Santa Cruz de La Palma
Sunset On The Rocks At Puerto de Mogán in Gran Canaria
A walk from San Andrés to Hoya del Morcillo, El Hierro
Enjoyment for the active traveller – Climb the Volcanic Mount Roja
Teguise: immerse yourself in Lanzarote’s history
How to Enjoy a Stunning Walk in Tenerife from Playa San Juan to Los Gigantes
Tazacorte, in La Palma: more than just a sun trap
Art, Architecture and Frogs in Gran Canaria's Garden City
Carnival time on El Hierro
One of the best family days out in Fuerteventura
Journey to another planet at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
From the sea to the sky, a circular drive in South Tenerife
A journey through La Palma’s plant world
Los Carneros de Tigaday, El Hierro
Relaxing Weekend staying in the picture perfect beaches of El Cotillo – Fuerteventura
Lanzarote’s southwest coastline: where ocean meets lava
How to Enjoy North Tenerife and Wine Tasting in One Amazing Trip
A trip around La Palma’s south coast
The Quiet South Gran Canaria Beach With Two Names
What to explore, How to get there and where to stay in San Sebastian the capital of La Gomera.
Relax by the sea in El Tamaduste
The best olive oil in Fuerteventura – Verde Aurora Bio Farm
Hiking in La Geria: a bird’s eye view of the volcanoes
How to Enjoy a Unique Excursion Around Stunning Santa Cruz
El Tablado, La Palma’s remotest settlement
Swimming And Snorkelling At El Puertillo in North Gran Canaria
Enjoy a morning at the local produce Market in San Sebastián de La Gomera
A tour around El Hierro’s “Mirador’s”
Betancuria, the ancient capital in the mountains of Fuerteventura
How to Enjoy an Easy Adventure from Puerto del Carmen to Puerto Calero
A walk across Llano de Las Cuevas in La Palma
How to Enjoy a Superb Luxury Sailing Trip in Tenerife
From Jungle To Desert at Maspalomas In South Gran Canaria
The sweetness of La Gomera and the Canary Islands – Palm Syrup
Cycling on El Hierro is a great way to see the Island
Isla de Lobos, a natural Paradise
Volcanoes, wine and British history in Lanzarote
The mini-Volcano Route, La Palma
How To Try And Do Tenerife From Top To Bottom In Three Days
Playa Santiago – A glorious mesh of sleepy fishing village and luxury hotel complex
A Day at the Canaribbean In Gran Canaria
Hermigua, the beautiful tropical valley of La Gomera with a Gofio Museum
How to Enjoy Authentic Lanzarote at the Lovely El Charco de San Ginés
La Gomera’s longest beach in the Valley of the great king – Valle Gran Rey
The Charm of Vallehermoso – The Beautiful Valley in La Gomera
How to Discover La Gomera With an Amazing Jeep Safari Adventure
Calle Cano: A Las Palmas Street Where Old And New Blend Together
Related
articles
Deserted beach and abandoned salt pans in Lanzarote
Experience participating in Transgrancanaria
A Journey to the end of the World, or to Punta de Orchilla
Diversity on the rocks: Hundreds of unique species
La Gomera, the romantic getaway
Enjoy a trek to the highest point in Lanzarote
Gran Canaria’s Other Rock: Sacred Roque Bentayga
A day in the outback of Fuerteventura
Walking to the Beautiful Valley on La Gomera
"Fototrek” an amazing annual photographic adventure in El Hierro
La Gomera, lush and beautiful
Paragliding above the valley of El Hierro. What an experience!
Three ways to enjoy Teide in Tenerife
Jardín Canario Viera y Clavijo, one of the highlights of Gran Canaria
From a Magic Spring to a Secret Lake, Five Curiosities on La Gomera
Jinama and Charco Azul
La Palma: a Treasure Trove of landscapes in One Island
A Hike Around Gran Canaria's Volcanic Hotspot
Fuerteventura, Strong Wind
Outdoor Living Lanzarote
The water route, Valverde and the Bonanza rock
Exploring the San Juan Volcano
Why You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Trekking Masca in Tenerife
Experience Tinajo: Rural traditions and breathtaking natural beauty
A Spring Tour Of Gran Canaria
A walk along the El Golfo ridge, El Hierro
Why Forestal Park is One of the Best Experiences in Tenerife
A walk from San Andrés to Hoya del Morcillo, El Hierro
Enjoyment for the active traveller – Climb the Volcanic Mount Roja
Journey to another planet at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
A journey through La Palma’s plant world
Hiking in La Geria: a bird’s eye view of the volcanoes
A walk across Llano de Las Cuevas in La Palma
Cycling on El Hierro is a great way to see the Island
Volcanoes, wine and British history in Lanzarote
The mini-Volcano Route, La Palma
www.hellocanaryislands.com