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  • From 27th June to 6th July 2008 we made a long planned trip to Tenerife.
    Between us we took about 116kg of hand and hold luggage, the main equipment
    consisting of:
    
       Donal: Takahashi FSQ106ED on an EQ6 mount with EQMOD; SBIG STL 6303 camera
       with internal filter wheel and Truetech external filter wheel.
    
       John: Pentax 105SDHF on an HEQ5 mount; SBIG ST10XME camera with CFW10 filter
       wheel and AO8 active optics.
    
    We stayed at the Parador Hotel, which is a comfortable 4 star hotel and is
    situated in the Mount Teide National Park. The hotel is marked by the red dot
    on this satellite image here. As you can see, it's inside the caldera of the
    volcano. We were concerned about the height of the horizons in various
    directions before we arrived, but in practice they were not a problem. The small
    peak to the south east is not a major obstruction, and the horizon due south is
    only at an elevation of 6 degrees. Mount Teide itself is also sufficiently far
    away not to cause any problems.
    
    We had spoken to several people who had been there before and some told us of
    quite severe light pollution and others said there was none. Just in case we
    had to move around to minimise the effects of any pollution we took all
    equipment necessary to operate entirely off batteries, planning to buy some
    marine batteries out there if necessary. In the event we found the skies at the
    Parador to be extremely dark and we did all our imaging from the back of the
    hotel. We could frequently see stars right down to the horizon,including theta
    Indi at declination -53 degrees. Jupiter was near opposition at the time, and
    it was so bright that it projected a shadow of an arm held a couple of feet in
    front of a door. We could also easily see to walk around the hotel garden
    illuminated only by starlight.
    
    The observing site, which is 7060 feet asl, is behind the swimming pool and is
    shown by a red dot on this image of the hotel.
    
    At this height you are above the low lying cloud that often envelops the island.
    Occasionally you encounter 'La Calima' which is a hot cloud of dust and sand
    blown over from the Sahara. We experienced the tail end of this for the first
    two days, but even then the night sky was impressively clear and dark. For the
    remaining seven nights we had perfectly clear conditions. Between us we
    collected approximately 80 hours of imaging data. The seeing was never very
    good, varying from 3.2 arcseconds FWHM on 3 minute exposures to about 6
    arcseconds at times. As we were using only 4" telescopes this wasn't critical
    to us, but I would like to return with a larger scope to explore this. I think
    that the heat absorbed by the volcanic terrain and reradiated at night is the
    culprit.
    
    The picture on the front page of this site shows the view as seen by the naked
    eye looking south, with the Milky Way and Jupiter prominent. The Milky Way was
    clearly visible from horizon to horizon and we could see considerable structure
    in it. We saw two fireballs and many smaller meteors during our stay. M31 The
    Andromeda Galaxy was visible to the naked eye by direct vision, as were M7 and
    M8 among others. Neptune was easily visible in binoculars. We tested the
    Limiting Visual Magnitude (LVM) by counting the number of stars visible by
    averted vision in the square of Pegasus and in the Keystone of Hercules. Donal,
    whose eyesight is better than mine, could see consistently to magnitude 6.25.
    On some nights we were bothered by a strong breeze which is quite common here,
    and on one occasion it forced us to pack up early (i.e. 03:30). On most nights
    we packed up about 05:00 or 05:30.
    
    COMMERCIAL: facilities for astronomers are provided by Rod Greening. These 
    include the use of a 25" Dobsonian, pillars, an adapter for an EQ6 mount and
    and a large selection of tools. There are also some counterweights available.
    There are a number of mains outlets but you will need continental 2 pin plugs.
    Contact Rod at barrod@talktalk.net for more information.
    
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