The geographic and climatic conditions of the Canary Islands turn them to ideal candidates for professional stargazers: especially the interior of Tenerife is very often dry and above the clouds. The very typical rim of clouds around the island also isolate against the lights of the touristic cities close to the Ocean. Thus, it is not too surprising that Tenerife hosts one of the most important astronomic parks of the world. Scientists from all over the planet drive their observations from there – the only condition is that they grant 20 per cent of the run time of their equipment to the local organizers of the Oberservatorio del Teide. Tourists can visit the observatory, typically during daytime. I was very curious how it will be like when we visited the island in October 2019.
Observatorio del Teide – Location & Tour Admission
The observatory is located close to the Izana mountain at the TF-514 road, only some two kilometers from the TF-24 road away. The area is controlled, no mobile phone usage is allowed. Before the tour, the group is assembled at the observatory entrance with the cars on the street before you are allowed to drive to visitor parking. Minibuses bring you to the start point of the tour.
There is a local tour agency, Volcano Teide Experience, who organize the tours, which are held in one language per tour.I attended an English tour, but Spanish, German, Russian and French are possible as well. The tour lasts some 90 minutes and costs 21 Euro for adults. Like in most attractions, locals profit of a significant discount.
Observatorio del Teide – The Tour
As there was just one minivan for a group of some 15 people, it took some time before our group was complete at the starting point of the tour. The building was also the only offering toilets for visitors. You may also grab some water there. At this point, there was a lot of general information, e.g. why the place is so ideal of astronomy and how the place is funded. You also get an overview about the current projects (i.e. telescopes) on site.
From that place, you walk up to a former telescope building, which has been turned into a “visitor center”, which just means that a quite informative video is shown to the visitors.
The next stop was that you were allowed to watch the sun through a telescope. Honestly, I could not really spot the effects which were explained before. Walking between the locations was definitely one of the best experiences on this visit – the view around the island is lovely and you can explore the unique nature of the island.
Last, but not least, we could really see a telescope. The one shown, the Telescopio Carlos Sanchez, is still in use at night time, but a comparably old one, already active since 1972. You could not see it moving or similar, there was just a lot of information about the history and the mission of the telescope.
Observatorio del Teide – My View
Starting positive: it is of course cool to see and visit this place, especially, if you are interesting in technical things and science. This is the only chance to enter the grounds (apart from having some contact to the scientists), so it is a unique experience. Full stop. Unfortunately, this is the positive side. I would have loved to see at least one telescope in action or some impression about the work at Observatorio del Teide. The guide was very motivated, but the tour was still lame. At some points, I am quite sure that he gave incorrect information. Only the last stage had a touch of being really interesting. Thus, overall, it sounds much more interesting to take this one than it is actually. Bad luck.
Flyctory.com about Tenerife
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