Why is it so cold up Teide?

February 11, 2020
Teide covered in snow

It´s Cold Outside!

We are always putting it on our literature and informing all our sellers that at Night on Teide it will be cold, especially in Winter.  Most people heed the advice, however, we do sometimes get a few brave it in flip flops or t-shirts.  But why if Tenerife’s cost line is so hot all day, is the mountain so cold?  Someone, did actually point out that they were taught as a child that the closer to the sun you go the hotter it becomes.  They said well I am closer to the sun here than I am on the coast so why is it colder?

Stargazers listening to Kieran
Some stargazers listening to Kieran wrapped up warm.

Well, the reason is if you think about it, the distance between the Earth and Sun is a very long way. It’s a hundred million miles or so. And therefore, the distance between the Earth’s surface and the top of Everest at 29,000 feet is a tiny fraction of the total distance to the Sun: in the grand scheme of things, it’s a trivial change in the actual distance. So that isn’t why the temperature changes and therefore also why it isn’t hotter.

The reason it’s actually colder is because, as you go up in the atmosphere, the Earth’s atmosphere feels less pressure the higher up you go. So as the gas in the atmosphere rises it feels less pressure, which makes it expand. When the gas expands it does some work. And and if it’s doing work, it must be losing some energy; and if it loses energy, its temperature must drop because we define temperature as the average energy of the particles. Therefore, if the energy of the particles is lower, the temperature must be lower.

Two stargazers with teide
Two of our stargazers pose in front of a snow capped Teide

That’s why, at altitude, the temperature appears to fall. In space, outside the earth’s atmosphere, if you’re facing the Sun, you can actually fry. That’s why space suits are specially designed in order to keep people from getting too hot in the sunny bits but also prevent them from becoming too cold in the non-sunny bits.

So guys you have been warned….it gets cold!  On our Star Safari we supply some padded jackets but its still always best to wear whatever warm clothes you have or at least bring them with you!

If you want to brave the cold this winter then look up our Star Safari tour and join us for a breathtaking tour of the Night Skies of Tenerife.

If you have any questions, then please leave a comment or get in touch via email.

Until Next time this Kieran signing off.

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