Star Stories
Tales from the night sky of Tenerife, brought to you by the guides of the stars!
Hurricanes, Clouds, Calimas & Sun!
The weekly review from the guides of the stars!

Well what a week its been, calimas, clouds, tail end of Hurricane Lesley, a proposal of marriage and Draconids meteor shower!  Few a lot can happen in a week.  Well where do I start from?  I suppose the obvious is the bad news first, so lets talk about, in good old British tradition, the weather! The  Calima are sand storms that are blown up by winds in the Sahara.  They blow the sand out over the Canaries and create a fog like effect of sand in the air that can be mistaken for clouds or thick fog.  The week started with one of these.  Usually these stay at low levels and although annoying for anyone trying to live in a dust free apartment, they can create some spectacular sunsets at altitude.  Once I saw the sun disappear behind a particularly dense cloud of sand then reappear almost as if rising out of the horizon upside down and lighting the sky up red as if drenched in blood.  It was amazing.  These calimas, although a regular pain to those of us that live on the island, rarely effect our ability to stargaze though.  Living on a Spanish Island it is easy to forget that we are nearer Africa than Europe and as such get African and not Spanish weather!

… a woman rang in the BBC earlier today and said that she had heard there was a hurricane coming, but if your watching don’t worry, there isn’t!

(Michael Fish – BBC weather Blooper 1987)

Once the calima receded, it made way to allow the first batch of Autumnal weather in.  In this case it was the high level cloud that rolled in off the tail of Hurricane Lesley. Whilst the Americans were battered by the biggest hurricane in American history we were being pestered by the slowest moving storm in history!  Most people don’t realise that nearly all hurricanes that hit America start due east of the canaries in Africa in the desert.  The winds pick up strength and hit around cape verde (South of the canaries), where the pick up moisture and begin to spin.  Most break up around the island, but a few clump together and head out over the Atlantic as tropical storms, picking up speed and moisture from the sea until they form a hurricane.  On a few unusual occasions these tropical storms can turn north (only recently one went as far north as Ireland).  This week Tropical storm Lesley got a bit stuck north west of the canary islands and spat out some cloud and dare I say it rain (although if in the coastal regions using the word rain would be an insult to the two drops that fell)!  As usual with any weather in Tenerife other than hot and sunny (el scortchio) locals are fasinated.  Histiria grew as the predictions showed it might hit the canaries.  However, the storm being stuck it blew out most of its strength, but not before we had some strange mountain weather.  Just last night we had thick cloud at altitude and cold temperatures whereas down on the coast where I live we had blue skies and 30 degrees heat.  Latest predictions show the storm has all but fizzled out and is head north west not due to hit us and as I write this I can see Mount Teide in all her glory with a crisp blue sky behind her!  I will be looking forward to getting up there tonight and being able to get on with what I love, Stargazing.

Oh that’s right, I mentioned another proposal of marriage.  Well there we were at sunset, me talking about the nostrils of Teide (Picco Viejo), when low and behold a young lad asked Phil (our apprentice telescope operator and trainee stargazer) to take a picture.  Camera poised the lad got down on one knee and pulled out a ring.  Luckily it was another yes!!!  I mean, who wouldn’t find it romantic, the amazing sunset before a stargazing experience at 2100 meters above sea level and me in the background talking about nostrils?

On the night of 8th October we had the wonderful Draconids meteor shower as a special extra for our intrepid stargazers.  It was made even more spectacular by the lightning on the far horizon from storm Lesley.  As a group we decided to play meteor football.  There were no prizes to be won just the pride of playing.  I started slow but then had a spectacular double meteor show with one shooting through Aquarius and another splitting off and heading towards Pisces.  Some of the folks on tour seemed to be doing much better early on and one lad was already on four.  Poor old Rob (Our usual meteor and satellite expert spotter and chef at Casa El Zaguan) was beginning to cheer imaginary meteors as every time he looked somewhere they danced in a different direction.  Until then, with only minutes to go he scored a double followed in quick succession by another two.  I got my third and by now we were packing up the scopes to go back when it was announced that two people had seen five.  Rob thought he saw another to draw level but on close inspection and after the stewards inquiry it turned out to be a supersonic moth that had flown straight down the beam of my laser pointer.  Unlucky Rob.  It was a real fun evening and everyone enjoyed learning about the constellations and the meteor shower football!

A quick reminder to everyone as well, Stephen & Angela will be appearing at this weekends International Astronomy show in the UK again this year on the 12th and 13th October at Stoneleigh park near Coventry. The show is run by two astronomy enthusiasts Graham Smith and Martin Stirland so its an astronomy show for astronomers with plenty of interesting guest lecturers over the two days and lots of stalls selling everything from NASA cap badges up to state of the art Telescopes. It is sponsored by the BBC sky at night magazine. Dark Skies Tenerife Guide’s Astrophotographer Peter Louer often has photos published in this magazine and they always ask Stephen to say hello to Peter when he is back in Tenerife.
We have stall no 5 turn right as you enter the main hall. If you are coming along we are promoting our new Centre of Astronomy at our rural hotel in Vilaflor, the first of its kind in Tenerife. We are offering Astronomy and Astrophotography holidays with discounts for holidays booked at the show. We are also running our popular holiday draw again so don’t forget to fill in your email address to win a 7-day bed and breakfast holiday at Casa Zaguan in Tenerife. The last winner, Nick Busby, is a keen astronomer and astrophotographer and he was thrilled to see the Omega Centauri globular cluster through our big Dob and was able to get some great photos of the core of the milky way both things that are not possible in the UK.
Check out the IAS website www.ukastroshow.com 

I hope u like this weeks picture of the good, the bad and the ugly weather and stargazing. You can tell the ones Rob and I took by the grainy unprofessional look, the good ones were from our Astrophotographer Peter Louer.  If you missed his blog last week its available in the previous blog section of this website.  He has offered me a quick crash curse in my editing so I hope to take him up on that soon and be showing you guys the results!

If you want to find out more details on celestial events like draconids or our weekly Messier Monday then check out our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/darkskiestenerifeguide/

It’s been emotional guys, until week when there will be more stories from the stars by the guides themselves, I’m Stargazing Tenerife team signing out, live long and prosper!

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