An astronomical summer in the Canary Islands: When to see the next meteor shower

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 23-06-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: Stock Image
An astronomical summer in the Canary Islands: When to see the next meteor shower

As summer has now officially begun, the Canary Islands are set to witness several astronomical phenomena, including the Perseid meteor shower, which will peak on August 12th. Additionally, several comets will be visible to those with a telescope. Here’s what to expect.

Night sky enthusiasts will also have the chance to observe Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn just before dawn, as reported by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). To celebrate the summer solstice, the IAC held an open day at the Teide Observatory.

The IAC explains that the summer solstice occurs when the Earth's tilt is fully directed towards the Sun in the northern hemisphere and away from it in the southern hemisphere, where winter begins. June 21st marks the day when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, depending on latitude.

In the Canary Islands, the Sun will reach an altitude of 85 degrees, compared to 38 degrees during the winter solstice.

The IAC notes that "curiously, although we experience summer, we are in the part of the year when the Earth is farthest from the Sun due to the elliptical shape of our orbit." This year, the aphelion, or the point of greatest distance from the Sun, will occur on July 5th, with the Earth being 152 million kilometres away from the Sun, about 5 million kilometres more than at perihelion, the closest point, which was on January 3rd.

This varying distance causes the astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere to last 93 days, while in the southern hemisphere it lasts 89 days (from December to March).

For those in the Canary Islands, these celestial events provide a unique opportunity to appreciate the wonders of the night sky. The Perseid meteor shower is one of the highlights of the year, known for its bright meteors that often leave long trails across the sky. With the clear summer skies of the Canary Islands, it promises to be a spectacular show.