A unique Canary Islands experience has launched on Airbnb to witness two spectacular astronomical events: Mars being closest to Earth in 15 years and the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
Astro-tourism is an emerging trend in the experience travel market and last year, and with that in mind, Airbnb has announced a one-off partnership with the world’s largest telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), in Spain’s Canary Islands.
From July 27 to July 31, Mars will slowly draw nearer as it reaches the closest it has been to Earth in 15 years. The night of the 27th will also feature the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, in which the moon will turn red in a phenomenon sometimes known as a “blood moon.”
That night, Airbnb hosts will be offering stargazers the opportunity to visit the largest single-aperture optical and infrared telescope in the world. Due to the sheer power of the giant telescope, guests will use smaller telescopes to clearly see Mars in its full red glory in one of the best stargazing spots on the planet.
Guests preparing to observe Mars in one of the best locations on the planet, next to Gran Telescopio Canarias.
The Experience, hosted by Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide and night photography expert, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, chief of scientific operations of GTC, will transport guests to outer space within the dome of the telescope and show them the importance of dark-sky preservation. After midnight, guests will head outdoors with special equipment to observe and photograph the moon, tainted red by light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, and the polar ice caps and dust storms of the red planet.
The six-hour Airbnb Social Impact Experience is only available once, for up to six guests, on July 27. The spaces will be bookable on a first come, first served basis at 40€ each. All booking fees will be donated to WWF-Spain.
This year’s Mars close approach will be the most spectacular since August 2003. On July 27, Mars and Earth will be at opposition, which means the planet will shine brightest, and it will be accompanied by a unique lunar eclipse – the perfect opportunity to stargaze.
Mars (left) and the Milky Way (right), visible from an Airbnb listing in La Palma.
Romano Corradi, Director of GTC, said the Airbnb partnership was aimed at promoting astro-tourism as a more sustainable form of travel which brings the economic benefits of tourism to more remote and rural regions, away from built up tourist areas.
Trending astro-tourism destinations as identified by Airbnb include Antofagasta, a Chilean city located next to the Atacama desert, which is home to some of the best telescopes in the world and one of the prime locations to watch the stars. Other trending stargazing destinations include Kiruna, Sweden and Yarmouth, Canada.