Visibility of other islands from La Palma

The peak-to-peak distances from La Palma to the other Canary Islands (and to Madeira, and to the uninhabited Islas Selvagens) are shown above.

Also shown, for each line of sight connecting two peaks, is the distance V at which one would expect two such peaks to become invisible to each other due to the curvature of the earth.

Tenerife, Gomera and El Hierro are thus easily visible from the mountain-top on La Palma. Madeira should just be visible in good conditions (but I've never seen it). Gran Canaria would be visible if it didn't lie behind Tenerife. Fuerteventure, Lanzarote and the tiny Islas Selvagens are too far away and too low-lying to be seen from La Palma.

The highest point on Fuerteventura (800 m) lies only ~ 115 km from the African coast (Morocco), so the latter should just be visible from Fuerteventura (V = 100 km), although I know of no sightings.

Formula used for V: on the earth, a peak of height H1 km will just be visible from a peak of height H2 km at a horizontal distance of V ~ 113 km * (√H1 + √H2). (On the sketch a sub-script 0 implies H2 ~ 0, i.e. ~ sea level.)

From Santa Cruz in La Palma (i.e. elevation ~ 0), Tenerife (elevations above ~ 1200 m) and Gomera (elevations above ~ 600 m) are easily visible on most days.

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Chris Benn (crb@ing.iac.es)

Last revised 9 March 2011