Autumn night in the Caldera at 7000ft.

I had a group of students in Tenerife learning Spanish a mix of English and Germans and the school asked me to do a brief summary of the highlights of the night so she could translate it in to Spanish to give to the students to follow the tour which I would have done in English and Spanish with a little bit of German to help out with the translation

“We will leave Adeje at around 5 o’clock and we drive up through the Tf1 and exit at the junction to Chio from there we will drive up through the pine forests and if the weather is warm and clear we may stop to admire the view of Mount Teide from around the Mount Chinyero area where the last volcanic eruption took place in 1909.

We arrive at la mirador del las Narices del Teide this is where the eruption of 1798 took place you can see clearly the black lava that covers an area of 5 Km2. Here we will watch the sunset hopefully if the cloud is low, we will see some or all of the three islands of La Palma La Gomera and El Hierro. Enjoy a glass of cava here it is nice to take many photos with your mobile phone I can also take a group photo of the class.

We will start to set up the large electronic telescope as the sky gets darker. First you will see the planet Venus low in the western sky this is the third brightest object in the night sky after the Sun and the Moon. Next you will see the planet Jupiter a little higher and to the left of Venus.

I will set up the telescope to track the stars to do this I will have to put in all the information in to the telescopes computer our Longitude and Latitude our elevation our time zone the date and time and whether or not we are using daylight savings. We choose Vega the alpha star in the constellation of Lyra the harp. We then centre Vega in the telescope spotter scope and the view finder. We enter this as found and we will then be offered Altair the alpha star in the constellation of Aguila the Eagle we accept this and the telescope will automatically turn to centre on Altair we will have to do some final adjustments to centre Altair in the view finder and enter. The telescope will tell us if the alignment is successful.

I will the show you the planet Jupiter through the telescope the planet is low in the sky and coming through a lot of atmospheric pollution but you will see some of the stripes across the planet and if we are luck all four of the Galilean moons. Galileo discovered these moons in 1609 when he built his own telescope. He named the moons after the mythical partners of Zeus. Ganymede, Io. Callisto and Europa. After this I will show you the planet Saturn with its rings that are made from ice crystals.

I will show you the path of the Milky Way from the constellation of Cassiopeia through the star Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus the swan and Altair in Aguila the Eagle. The Milky Way our galaxy is a spiral galaxy around 100,000 light years across we are around two thirds from the centre on the Orion arm of the Galaxy.

These two stars Deneb and Altair along with the star Vega form the summer triangle.

I will show you the constellation of the hero and strong man Hercules the half god that had to perform ten tasks to atone for killing his own wife and children. His one straight leg and the other bent at the knee. Here is a deep space object called The great cluster in Hercules this is a globular cluster and was catalogued by Charles Messier in the 18th century as no 13 in the messier list. The star cluster contains around 100,000 stars all held together in a tight cluster by gravity. The cluster is 22,000 light years from Earth and is around 100 light years across.

We will move up to Lyra constellations to look at the Ring nebula a planetary nebula that is 57 0n the messier list. This is the remnants of an exploding star or super nova in the middle of this nebula is a white dwarf.

I will show you the great square of Pegasus and the star it shares with Andromeda and explain how to find the Andromeda galaxy our closest galaxy and the furthest object we can see with the naked eye on a dark night in a dark sky. We will then look at the Andromeda galaxy through the telescope this is no 31 on the messier list.

I will show you the constellation of Cygnus a giant swan flying through the heavens with its main star Deneb as its tail and it short body and long neck and out stretched wings the head of the swan Cygnus is the double star of  Albiero a lovely sight as the two stars are different colours the blue star is a young star and the orange star is an old star.

That concludes the excursion we then take photographs of you under the stars using astrophotography techniques to show you with the stars above you on a final point by this time the open cluster of Pleiades or messier 45 and known as the seven sisters this is in the constellation of Taurus and  will be in the sky just above your right shoulder in the photograph.

As we leave you will see two bright stars rise over Pico Viejo the one on the right is the eye of the bull Aldebaran in Taurus the one on the left is Capella in Auriga.

By Stargazing Tenerife team,
your stargazing guide to the dark skies of Tenerife.

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