All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Sky Watching in Spain
18 January 2017

 

“Star Tourism” is becoming increasingly popular. If you have never considered this type of tourism and like the idea of gazing and interpreting the firmament, a great place to do so is Spain. Spain has some of the best vantage points in the world to marvel at the sky at night, so why not combine your passion for astronomy with an unforgettable trip to the Spanish countryside.

Spain's clear skies have preserved their natural darkness owing to the lack of light pollution. Indeed, at present the Canary Islands, along with Hawaii and Chile are the homes of the observatories where the telescopes of the future are to be installed. The good climate offers endless nights with clear skies. Additionally many of the areas from which the stars can be observed from are protected natural areas, such as nature reserves, that are sure to impress visitors.

There are country house lodges and small hotels in Spain that specialise in star gazing. These normally have planispheres or star charts, educational material and a telescope. There are also companies and associations that specialise in organising events for important moments such as eclipses and meteor showers. Indeed, Tenerife even hosts the Starmus Festival, which is aimed at astronomy, science and music enthusiasts and which has counted with people of the stature of Stephen Hawking as speakers.

There are several types of Starlight certifications (Starlight Reserves, Starlight Tourist Destinations, Stellar Parks, Starlight Hotels, etc.) that are granted to places that include sky watching as part of their natural heritage, thus ensuring a quality tourist experience. You can get more information at the website of the Starlight Foundation , created by the Canary Island Institute of Astrophysics (IAC).

 

 

Here are a selection of the Starlight areas in Spain : 

Sierra Sur District. (The Sierra Sur mountains in Jaén Andalusia, southern Spain). This is a landscape abounding in mountains and canyons where the air is clean and transparent. Different astronomy associations and the Andalusia Astronomy Observatory normally organise guided observation activities. There are even companies that provide private astronomy guide services at those country house lodges that have professional telescopes.

Andalusia Sierra Morena Mountains. There you will find a marvellous network of star gazing vantage points and accommodation. They also offer package holidays that include specialist guides, observation material, day and night activities, accommodation, 4x4 travel, etc.

El Montsec. This is a Starlight Tourist Destination located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Lleida (Catalonia). You could do no better in this area than pay a visit to its large astronomy park made up of the Universe Observation Centre (COU) and an Astronomy Observatory. Did you know that the well known “Montsec Eye” is to be found there, the 12-m dome which opens out to bring you “face to face” with the Montsec sky?

Tenerife. Both the Teide National Park along with other mountain peaks on Tenerife and the town of Granadilla de Abona hold Starlight certification. If star gazing is exciting in itself, watching them from a volcano at over 2,000 m above sea level is an incomparable experience. What better place to gaze at the moon than from a lunar-like landscape? The geographical situation of the Canary Islands offers visitors a chance to observe both the northern and southern hemispheres. You can sign up for a guided visit to see inside one of the most modern telescopes in the world or to take a photograph of the night sky.

La Palma. Known as the “beautiful island”, this is the most rugged of the Canary Islands and the one with the clearest skies. It is definitely an understatement to say that this is one of the best places on earth to observe the stars. All the towns on the island have astronomy vantage points. Its famous Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, standing some 2,400 m above sea level is one of the most complex telescopes, and indeed one of the most complete, in the world. You can visit it, but only by prior arrangement. La Palma has several hotels and country house lodges with observation instruments. There you will find sundials and even restaurants that offer “galaxies” and “constellations” among their dishes.

 

 

Gredos Norte. This is in the south of the province of Ávila (in Castile-León, inland Spain). It has a network of star watching vantage points that are equipped with information panels, car parks, etc. The Astronomy and Astrophotography Congress is held there every year.

Biosphere Reserve of the Valleys of Leza, Jubera, Cidacos and Alhama. We are talking about the beautiful countryside of La Rioja (northern part of inland Spain). Several activities have been organised there in recent years such as talks about the sounds of nature, tours to spot nocturnal birds, explanations on the link between the Celtiberian culture and the stars, bathing under the stars in thermal springs, learning about the constellations, etc. La Rioja also has two star parks: the Laguna one in Cameros and other in Cervera del río Alhama.

One of the most popular times of the year to star gaze in Spain is during what is known as the “Tears of Saint Lawrence”. They refer to the Perseids meteor shower of shooting stars that usually takes place between the 11 and 13 August every year. Not every night is suitable for sky watching on account of moonlight and wind factors however the best nights are those just before and after a new moon.  



Like 1        Published at 13:26   Comments (2)

Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x