Visibility in the Canary Islands and Saharan Dust

July 10, 2012

Calima2012jun_01 (2)

: Jurgen Rendtel
Summary Author: Jurgen Rendtel

On June 24, 2012, a huge amount of Saharan dust was blown westwards from Africa toward Spain's Canary Islands. In this part of the world, this hot, dusty wind is called a Calima. The amount of dust in this storm exceeded the threshold accepted for telescope operation at Teide Observatory on Tenerife by a factor of about eight. Mount Teide (12,198 ft or 3,718 m) which is about 8 mi (13 km) from the observatory wasn't visible at all until June 28. The dust was accompanied by a rise in the temperature. At an elevation of 7,875 ft (2,400 m), the temperature reached 86 F (30 C) during the day and remained above 65 F (18 C) during the night. Only slowly did the dust settle or disperse. The four images above show the improvement of visibility from June 27 until clear conditions returned on July 2.