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Stargazers in Spain to enjoy summer of celestial delights

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Stargazers in Spain to enjoy summer of celestial delights
The sky over Tenerife. Photo: Carl Jones/Flickr
12:34 CEST+02:00
Stargazers will be spoilt for choice this summer, as Spain's skies light up with five planets, two eclipses and the famous Perseid meteor shower.

Summer time officially begins tomorrow - June 21st - and lasts until September 22nd, during which time amateur astronomers are sure to catch a glimpse of some incredible sights in the skies over Spain. 

During the summer solstice a total of four planets will be visible in the night sky: Uranus will dominate the sky and will be joined by Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. By mid-July Venus will also be visible according to calculations by Spain's National Astronomical Observatory.

There will be two eclipses over Spain this summer: a solar eclipse on September 1st and a lunar eclipse on September 16th, which will be visible over Spain at around 8.50pm.

And the spectacular Perseid meteor shower will glisten across Spain's skies from August 12th.

In Spanish the phenomenon is known as Lágrimas de San Lorenzo - the tears of St Lawrence – because the best viewing nights often occur around the  feast day on August 10th of the Spanish saint martyred in 258 AD.


Startrails during the Perseid meteor shower. Photo: Channone Arif/Flickr 

Shooting stars are caused by tiny flecks of comet hitting the earth's atmosphere. The Perseids occur annually when the orbit of Earth crosses into the tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that is where the meteors seem to originate from when looking up at the sky.

The shooting stars are visible to the naked eye so no need for binoculars or a telescope but allow yourself to become accustomed to the darkness which usually takes around 20 minutes. And have patience as the shower comes in spurts - nothing for a while and then a sudden flurry of activity.

Spain has some of the world's best stargazing spots, most notably from the Great Canary Telescope on the Canary Island of La Palma. Views from the telescope are said to be some of the best in the Northern Hemisphere. 

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