Star-gazing in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is an exceptional viewpoint for astronomical observation. Photographs taken of the Milky Way are a fine example of this.

This tale has several protagonists, and two settings that are situated huge distances  from one another. And it develops at very different times. But finally, the pieces slot in together almost magically in a quick flash. The elements link up in the internal mechanism of a single tale which highlights the positioning of Gran Canaria as a window to the Universe, thanks to its excellent conditions for star gazing.

The first protagonist has just arrived at its observation point. Purpose shines brightly in his eyes. Above him the stars glitter: the stars in the celestial dome that wraps itself around the island. The kit is brought out: the tripod, camera, coffee flask and some food. A little snack really, in comparison with the main course up there on high. The purpose today is to photograph the Milky Way. He has chosen a clear night with no moon, and down here on Earth, in Gran Canaria, at a corner of the island where darkness reigns, everything is ready.

Starlit skies seen from Gran Canaria

The Milky Way, with its hundreds of thousands of stars, is almost unfathomable for the human mind. We console ourselves by enjoying the sheer beauty of this spiral galaxy that arches over the celestial dome while giving us a glimpse of the firmament especially visible from February to October, and which occupies half the night skies during the summer.  Gran Canaria offers exceptional viewpoints to the southeast to contemplate a running show which is totally free of charge and visible for several hours.

Star-filled skies seen from salt marshes

The photographer keeps guard. The star hunter spies how the arch emerges and focuses on the point where the galactic mist floats which causes the starry mash of the Milky Way. Its intensity is heightened in the so called Galactic Centre, where the Sagitarious constellation resides. At this moment he is experiencing what anyone would feel in his place: that there is a secret alleyway that connects Gran Canaria with the firmament.

A photographer taking photos of the Milky Way

He takes a quick glance at his watch, to set his terrestrial coordinates. However, the light that shines through is in fact from another time, reaching us having travelled thousands of light years –the distance that separates us from the sparkling heart of the Milky Way- to be portrayed through a photographic display that lasts justs seconds.

Roque Nublo, with its shadow, the Moon, and a starlit sky in Gran Canaria

The gentle click of the camera barely breaks the calm of a peaceful night. Before the night is through, the camera’s memory will have contained multiple snapshots of star dust following its voyage through time and space. Star gazing can be done any time of the year thanks to Gran Canaria’s benign climate, a gateway that opens up to allow night after night to drift through, and the reason for which the island aspires to be declared a Unesco Starlight Reserve.

Roque Bentayga with a starlit sky. Gran Canaria

The stars that appear in the picture are made out of helium and hydrogen that react together with other chemical elements. Back here on Earth in Gran Canaria, its distant glow causes emotion, the material which we humans are made of.

Star-gazing from a cave in Gran Canaria