Heavens above Teide
Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Gran Canaria, and ever since that experience, a deep desire to return to the Canary Islands for some captivating astronomical observations and astrophotography has been burning within me. Just a week ago, this long-cherished dream became a reality as I embarked on my journey to Mount Teide, Tenerife!
Upon arrival, the weather forecast for my stay appeared promising, and despite the ongoing fires in the northeastern part of the island, I was greeted by a clear, smoke-free sky. As the sun gracefully dipped below the horizon, a celestial marvel unfolded before my eyes—the core of the Milky Way began to gleam, growing increasingly brilliant as the night's darkness enveloped the landscape.
The site I had selected for my stargazing adventure was Minas De San Jose—a remarkable desert of pumice banks adorned with massive volcanic rock pillars. It was as though I had set foot on a distant planet; the desolate terrain bore a striking resemblance to the surface of Mars.
On this particular night my main focus was on landscape photography, I had left my travel telescope to the hotel as I wasn't sure if this place had a lot of traffic or tourists around. To my delight most of the unwanted lights were easily avoidable by just walking bit further from the road so on the next night I decided to haul my observation gear with me. I traveled with 80/560mm refractor on a Star Adventurer 2i equatorial mount, 2" diagonal and three eyepieces: Celestron X-Cel LX 12mm and 25mm and also Baader Hyperion 8mm which I didn't use a lot as I felt the X-Cel 12mm gave me better views and more suitable magnification. To save on weight I 3D printed a can holder that can be attached to the counterweight shaft so I didn't need to bring my own counterweights on the plane. This worked great and I will definitely use it more when traveling abroad!
Astronomical sketching Observational astronomy on Teide was a lot of fun, I have made hundred's of astronomical sketches in the past but as my interest has shifted towards astrophotography I don't do it often anymore. Before this trip I think it has been 3 years from the last sketch. As I was limited by the rather small aperture of my telescope I decided to observe mostly bright nebulosities but I also had a taste of some hidden jewels of the southern skies like Sculptor Galaxy and Helix Nebula. Seeking the targets manually was challenging but also rewarding and time just flew by as I got my pencils out.
Visiting the Observatory of Teide Some nights of my trip were washed away by sand blown from the western coast of Africa that is locally know as Calima. It lasted few days and I took that time to go and see the Teide Observatory. It was a great experience, although mostly it is focused for general public. I had some great conversations with the staff after the tour though! On the photograph below you can see from left to right the ESA Ground Station, in the middle is GREGOR, one of the largest solar observatories in the world.
Calima was also great time to shoot the mountainscapes as I think it gave more depth to the photos. After it cleared I spent two more nights in the Minas De San Jose -area shooting the night sky. Below are some of the results. Memorycards full of photos and sketchbook full of astronomical observations it was time to head home for a well-earned rest.