canary islands

Celestial highlights of the Canary Islands’ astronomical summer

The astronomical summer in the Canary Islands ushers in a season of celestial spectacles, including the visibility of planets like Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and the anticipated Perseids meteor shower in August.

The astronomical summer kicks off in the Canary Islands with a series of exciting celestial events lined up for stargazers. Beginning at 20:51 UTC on Thursday, this season not only marks the start of warmer days but also brings with it the opportunity to witness the Perseids meteor shower at its peak on August 12, among other visible cometary bodies for those equipped with telescopes.

Astrophysics enthusiasts will have the chance to observe Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the predawn skies. The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) will also host an open day at the Teide Observatory to celebrate the summer solstice, providing a perfect setting for astronomical observations.

Celestial highlights of the Canary Islands' astronomical summer

The summer solstice, marking the longest day of the year, occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt is most aligned with the sun, bathing the northern hemisphere in sunlight while the southern hemisphere commences its winter. Notably, on June 21, the sun will ascend to 85 degrees above the horizon in the Canary Islands, significantly higher compared to its elevation of 38 degrees during the winter solstice.

Interestingly, despite the warmer weather, the Earth is actually at its farthest from the sun during this period, a phenomenon known as aphelion, which this year falls on July 5. At this point, the Earth will be about 152 million kilometres from the sun—approximately 5 million kilometres more distant than during its closest approach, or perihelion, which occurred on January 3.

Celestial highlights of the Canary Islands' astronomical summer

These orbital peculiarities contribute to the varying lengths of astronomical seasons, with the summer lasting 93 days in the northern hemisphere and only 89 days in the southern hemisphere. This celestial rhythm offers a unique glimpse into the mechanics of our solar system and provides a spectacular backdrop for skywatching in the Canary Islands.

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