IN PICS: Mysterious glow lights up Spain’s highest mountain

A photographer has captured stunning images of Tenerife’s Tiede volcano dusted with snow and lit by a celestial light.

IN PICS: Mysterious glow lights up Spain’s highest mountain
Juan Carlos Casado / Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

The phenomenon known as zodiacal light appears as a pyramid-shaped glow that is best viewed around an hour after sunset and is visible to lucky stargazers in Tenerife for the next few weeks.

Zodiacal light is caused by sunlight reflecting off interplanetary dust particles that orbit the sun within the inner solar system at a distance of about 600 million km from earth.

IN PICS: Snow and ice transforms Spain into winter wonderland

These grains are ancient, and are thought to be left over from the process that created Earth around 4.5 billion years ago.

The glow coincides with snowfall on El Tielde volcano, which at 3,718 meters (12,198ft) above sea level is  Spain’s highest mountain.

These two images were captured on February 3rd by Juan Carlos Casado and Daniel López and published by the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islancds

The photos were taken from the Teide Observatory, the largest solar observatory in the world, which is located in the El Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a recognised ‘Starlight Tourist Destination’ because of its exceptionally clear and protected dark skies.

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John E Beckman an astrophysicist at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias explained exactly what it was that the photos capture.

“The zodiacal light is sunlight reflected off very fine dust particles which lie in the plane of the ecliptic. This is the plane in which the planets orbit the sun, and is a remarkably very thin disc, all the planets orbit in the same plane,” he told The Local.

“In very clear air, away from contamination and light pollution it is possible to see it with the naked eye, and of course a photograph accumulates light and makes it much easier to pick out.”

And the best way to see it?

“It is hard to see in moonlight, so observable only when the moon is either dark or well below the horizon.

“It is strongest near to the sun, so best observed just after sunset or just before sunrise, although with any kind of cloud or dust in the air this will not be possible as the remaining sunlight scattered in our atmosphere will conceal it.

“As the dust particles are very small they tend to spiral in to the sun quite quickly, and need to be continually replaced. This must be due to cometary material which is stripped from the comets as they go close to the sun.”

He explained that the Teide is an amost perfect observational site:

“The Teide National Park is an almost ideal site to observe the Zodiacal Light, as it has very clean air, and in many directions the light pollution from towns is very small, which is one of the reasons why we have the observatories.”


Spain’s capital delays reopening of schools after historic snowfall

Madrid's regional government on Friday postponed the opening of schools until January 20 because many roads remained blocked a week after Spain's worst snowstorm in decades.

Spain's capital delays reopening of schools after historic snowfall
Children riding sleds are pulled by their parents amid a heavy snowfall in Madrid on January 9, 2021: AFP

The region's 2,557 schools had been set to reopen on Monday but access to over half of them, or 57.6 percent, remains difficult because of the snow and ice, the regional government said in a statement.

Clean-up crews will “continue working intensely over the following days” to ensure school can open as planned, it added.

Storm Filomena dumped 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow on Madrid between last Friday and Saturday, leaving the city and large swathes of the country impassable.


The storm had been blamed for five deaths. It was followed by several days of plunging temperatures, which hardened mounds of snow and slush.

ANALYSIS: Should Madrid be declared a disaster zone as true cost of storm damage emerges?

While main arteries have been cleared, hundreds of side streets remained caked in snow and ice which has disrupted post delivery and rubbish collection, with huge piles of refuse piled up around overflowing bins across Madrid.

A pile of garbage bags is pictured in Madrid on January 14, 2021. Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

READ ALSO: IN PICS: Spectacular images of snow-covered Spain from the air

About a third of all streets, or 30.3 percent of all streets have been cleared, according to Madrid city hall which estimates the storm caused at least 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in damage.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said the storm dumped more than 1.2 million kilos of snow on the city, enough to form a line of trucks stretching from Madrid to Brussels.

He has called on the central government to declare the area a disaster zone, a move that would trigger emergency aid and other measures.

But the central government wants to wait for a final evaluation of the damage before it decides whether to declare Madrid a disaster area, Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told reporters.

People walk amid a heavy snowfall in Madrid on January 9, 2021. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Meanwhile, Madrid three main art museums — the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia, the home of Picasso's masterpiece “Guernica” — all announced that they would reopen on Monday for the first time since the storm hit.

People enjoy the snow outside the Royal Palace in Madrid on January 9, 2021. Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

READ ALSO: LATEST: Big freeze across Spain set to last into next week

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