Who among us hasn’t looked up to the skies on a clear night in wonder? Contemplating the universe while observing the heavens is only a natural reaction. But what if you could see the stars shine brighter than you ever thought possible?
In the Canary Islands, you can enjoy the cleanest, clearest skies in Europe for stargazing. In fact, two of the widest range observatories on the planet are located in Tenerife. Thanks to the region’s low level of light pollution, this desirable characteristic extends to La Gomera, widely regarded as the most authentic and visual of the Canary Islands.
An Evening with the Stars
As soon as you arrive, La Gomera welcomes you with the best viewpoints around. Then, as the sun sets over the horizon, the night begins its hypnotising dance, dazzling onlookers with stellar displays.
Planets, constellations, galaxies and shooting stars sparkle for any traveller who keeps their eyes to the sky. With a little attention, you can learn to see them easily.
Where to start?
To experience this star-studded spectacle in all its glory, you should start by downloading virtual observatory apps. Popular options include Star Walk 2, Sky Map or SkyView, all of which provide detailed information by facing your smartphone at whatever you want to learn about.
César Manrique Viewpoint
Once you’ve downloaded your app, kick off your stargazing journey in La Gomera at the César Manrique viewpoint on the road to Valle Gran Rey.
This viewpoint is perfect for observing one of the most recognisable groups of stars in the galaxy, the Orion constellation. In February and March, the mythological giant beams across the winter sky. You can even notice the contrast in colours at the edges of the stars: the reddish Betelgeuse in the shoulder of the giant and the blue Rigel in his foot.
From here, it’s easy to see Orion’s Belt, the iconic asterism formed by three massive stars. Hanging below Orion’s belt, three more small stars form part of the Great Orion Nebula, the most brilliant nebulae visible to the naked eye.
Mirador de Santo Viewpoint
Continue your journey at the Mirador de Santo viewpoint in the hamlet of Arure. On moonless nights, the complete absence of light transforms this viewpoint into a front row seat to the Milky Way galaxy. If you use a telescope or binoculars, you can even notice concentrations of recently formed stars tied together in space by gravity.
To the north, in the early evenings of February and March, you’ll find Gemini, one of the 48 constellations of the zodiac.
Mirador de Alojera Viewpoint
The Mirador de Alojera viewpoint is the next stop on your stargazing journey in La Gomera. Accessed by a small dirt track, this viewpoint reveals two mythical and easily recognisable constellations: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, also known as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper.
From the Big Dipper, you can trace a direct line to Polaris, the North Star. The easiest way to get there is by using the pointer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper, Dubhe and Merak. Draw a line between these two stars and extend it out about 5 times to arrive in the vicinity of Polaris, which actually marks the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper.
For your last stop, you’ll arrive in the heart of the island at the Garajonay summit. Thrusting its peak 1,487 metres high, this natural platform is no doubt one of the best places to catch panoramic views of space.
On August nights, if you look towards the south, you can spot two constellations that float over the densest part of the Milky Way, Sagittarius and Scorpius. In the Scorpius constellation, the red supergiant star Antares blazes with the size and intensity of 700 suns.
Close to Antares, with the help of binoculars, you can see a ball of stars resembling a wisp of smoke. This is Messier 4, a large globular cluster of old stars located 7,200 light years away.
As you will have discovered by now, the natural treasures of La Gomera span far beyond the earth and sea. All you have to do is look up.
For more information, please visit La Gomera’s official website.