After a hiatus of over 2 years due to COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic, a group of 6 amateur astronomers have made it out to Tenerife. Alan Lorrain, Bob Trevan, Ian Piper, Mark Radice, your truly Dave Shave-Wall and newcomer Lawrence Saville.
Staying at the Parador hotel, situated just below the base of mount Teide at 2,158m (7,057 ft), with stunning views of the mountain towering an additional mile above our heads.
This trip was the first time more than a couple of us were staying at the Parador, due to not wishing to travel the hour up and the hour down the mountain every night and morning. Also we had been unable to make contact with the MONS telescope personnel at the observatory and the website no longer worked to allow bookings, so we were in need of accommodation, facilities and power.
The Parador seemed like the perfect choice.
We took a sensible flight out to Tenerife with BA at 1:25pm on Saturday, with their generous baggage allowance, most of us opting to fly Business due to the manageable cost which included an upgrade of the allowance from 1 x 23kg to 2 x 32kg checked luggage and the additional 23kg carry on plus an additional allowance of a laptop of 23kg! A couple of us including myself booked 2 further bags as we were carrying heavy equipment.
In hindsight we would look to travel on a different day next time due to the volume of travellers flying from T5. The BA lounge was great and a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the concourse just outside. We took off slightly late and then arrived 4 hours later due to the headwind all the way and it was indeed a pleasant flight.
We then went through a quick security check including for our health check verification which we had completed on the SPth site prior to arrival and then waited for our bags. This turned into a lengthy stay of over an hour at the airport and then the realisation that some of our bags were still in London! So with slight annoyance and heavy hearts we set off to Cicar to collect our vehicles and head up the mountain.
The following day Lawrence and I took a trip down to the airport and were reunited with our bags sitting amongst the 50 or so that had made the trip that morning. The route back up the mountain is now our favourite with very few twists and turns and only 1 hour in duration. You take the TF-1 West out of the airport, stopping briefly at Lidl for supplies, then all the way up to Los Gigantes and then take a right, briefly following the TF-82 heading to Chio before turning left onto the TF-38. We follow the TF-38 for about 30km to the T-junction with the TF-21, turning right for the last 7km to the Parador.
Dinners at the Parador were superb, the selection was good, the quality amazing and the portion sizes were large. We were all fairly stuffed after 1 hour of eating by 9pm in time to setup in the evenings, which took place out the back of the hotel in the relative darkness by the indoor pool building.
The Parador hotel could not have been more accommodating, they moved Bob to a new room to facilitate coming out of the lifts and getting to his room without the need to traverse the stairs. The laid out extension leads for us to various places around the patio to the rear of the hotel where the pool resides. They even turned off all the lights, closed curtains in the restaurant early and left various doors open for us to enter when we needed. They were simply wonderful!
So what was the the site like for observing? Well whilst we thought the southern horizon was going to be a problem I was observing Omega Centauri at +02 deg altitude at 11:30pm! So pretty amazing. There were various places to setup, most of us choose the corner of the patio area away from the pool building and where several piers were located.
Some setup down by the pool are also and again several piers were located there also.
The piers can be booked, in case someone does turn up with a booking, through Klaus Peter Schröder, email Klaus-Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org
An interface plate needs to be made so the first visit would require taking measurements of the top plate to marry the interface plate to. Bob made up a plate before arriving for his Tak mount which worked a treat.
I now have good templates for each of the pier tops if anyone would like an interface plate making up … Bob
The EM-2 and Sky90 was left tracking Venus so we could observe Venus during the day. We successfully did a meridian flip and reacquired Venus and then attempted to find Jupiter during daylight using the setting circles, but unfortunately failed but were able to re-acquire Venus.
The seeing was mixed during the week. The first night was average, the second night much better, nights, 3 and 4 were varied throughout the night. Some of use took 5min subs and others 30s or 2mins. What we found was taking shorter exposures allowed us to discard those frames where the seeing was poor and retain those where the seeing was excellent.
One evening we took a trip by foot to the the caldera where we used DSLRs to take skycape’s, a welcome break from either visual observing or telescope imaging. A variety of objects were seen and imaged and we had a lot of fun with the different rock formations. A favourite was the actually the church on the way back to the hotel.
Many of us came sporting astronomy T-Shirts, Lawrence kept surprising us by showing off his cool ones we had not seen before. What a geek!
Nights were long which was splendid and days were longer. This gave us time to process images, relax on the patio and have a beer.
So would we recommend the Parador for an astronomy holiday? Absolutely! Will we come back for BASEG 2023? I think we know the answer to that 😎