Astronomical Observatories in Chile
As mentioned earlier, the skies of northern Chile are considered the best in the world for astronomy. A growing number of Chileans and foreigners are visiting the various facilities to observe the skies over the last decade. However, most of the observatories positioned in the Norte Chico (Third and Fourth Region), since the 60s have been for scientific use only, leaving very little for the tourist. In the mid-90's, a study by European scientists from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) decided to build a new and more sophisticated observatory, this time in the Norte Grande (Second Region), for highly scientific purposes, which will determine and reveal many mysteries in space. The place chosen was Cerro Paranal Observatory, considered the largest in the world.
The Cerro Armazones, 3,060 meters in height, situated in the Atacama desert some 130 km south of Antofagasta, Chile, was the site chosen to install the telescope largest in the world -known as European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which also aspired Spain, as reported by the Council of European Southern Observatory (IT). "This is an important milestone that allows us to finalize the design basis of this ambitious project, which will allow significant progress in the astronomical knowledge," said Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of that. "I thank the team that selected the place by the enormous work done in recent years".
Alma Observatory (The Atacama Large Millimeter Array) is an international astronomical facility where the objective is to develop a telescope, nothing like it in the world, consisting of a group of up to 66 radiotelescopic antennas working together, all pointing to the same source to study the universe, from a place 5 thousand meters above sea level, in the hghlands (Llano de Chajnantor) of the Andes Mountain Range, 50 kms. from San Pedro de Atacama in the Second Region of Chile. ALMA is the first truly global astronomical project, a site where scientists from around the world will come to use more sophisticated instruments to capture millimetric wavelength light.
LSST - Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
LSST is a great astronomy project. The U.S. giant, Internet Google, which has already caused huge sensation with its three-dimensional maps, now has added a project to digitally film the entire area visible from the Earth through a telescope installed in Chile, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)
The project, which brings together 19 universities and laboratories, plans to build a telescope on Cerro Pachon, in the Forth Region, which (its implementation is scheduled for 2013) will be able to view, weekly, the entire space visible from the Earth using a digital camera of 3000 million pixels.
With joint participation of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Gemini Observatory belonging to AURA is one of the most modern ones and began to operate in 2002. It is situated on Cerro Pachón, to the interior area of the Elqui Valley (Region of Coquimbo) It has 1 telescope with a diameter of 8.1 meters and its main purpose is the communication established with its twin telescope located on the Mauna Kea Mountain in the paradise island of Hawaii.
Tololo Observatory is perhaps the most famous observatory located in Chile. It is situated 87 kms. east of La Serena, near the town of Vicuña. Installed over 2200 meters above sea level, it was opened in 1967 and is operated by AURA. It has 8 telescopes and a radio telescope. The size of its mirrors varies from 61 cms. to 4.5 mts. Approximately 175 people work in this observatory. There is a public telephone and, on the way to the units, there are radio stations for communication in case of an emergency. It is also possible to get drinking water, first aid, ambulance, paramedics and security experts.
La Silla Observatory
La Silla Observatory is located in the commune of La Higuera in the province of Elqui, Coquimbo Region, 156 kms. north of La Serena. The access road to the observatory is at kilometer 595 of the Panamericana Norte and ascends over 2400 meters above sea level in an area free of light pollution. Cerro La Silla is distinguished by presenting totally clear skies, at least 300 days a year, almost the entire year.
La Silla Observatory has 14 optical telescopes with mirrors with a diameter up to 3.6 meters and a radiotelescope of 15 meters, which transforms it into one of the largest and most modern centers of astronomical observation in the world.
Las Campanas Observatory
Las Campanas observatory is located a few kilometers further north of La Silla, on the borders of the Third and Fourth Region. The access road is the same as our previous observatory, that is Panamericana Norte km. 595. On the way, there is a parralel detour which leads to Las Campanas Observatory. This facility is operated by Carnigie Institution of Washington, and its location is 2,500 meters above sea level. Inside, there are 5 optical telescopes, 1 solar telescope, telephones, radio, Internet, running water, bathrooms and first aid.
Cerro Armazones Observatory
Cerro Armazones Observatory is a project of the Institute of Astronomy of the Universidad Católica del Norte and the Institute of Astronomy, University of Bochum, including the collaboration of important companies and institutions, such as ESO, Inacesa, Soimi and CONICYT.
The Observatory Cerro Armazones (OCA) was inaugurated on December 2, 1995, it currently has three telescopes, 1.5 mt, 84 cm and 41 cm in diameter.
The development of this project is of great importance because of the location, considering that there are very few places in the world with observatories under skies of such quality. OCA has about 350 clear nights per year.
The Paranal Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in the commune of Taltal, the Second Region of Antofagasta, Chile. This astronomical center is founded on the Cerro Paranal 2635.43 meters above sea level, in the Cordillera de la Costa, 130 kms. south of Antofagasta and 12 kms. from the coast. Symbolically inaugurated in 1996, by the then President of the Republic of Chile, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The VLT project of Cerro Paranal has an investment of about U.S.$200,000,000.
The APEX Observatory is located on the Chajnantor plateau which is over 5100 mts above sea level, in San Pedro de Atacama, the Center has an astronomical antenna with a 12-meter diameter. It is considered by experts as one of the best places for radioastronomical practice, in the dry Atacameño desert in northern Chile.
APEX, as known in English (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) is operated in Chile by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). It also counts with the support of the German Max Planck Institute and the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden.
Cruz del Sur Observatory
Cruz del Sur Observatory counts with a structure of four domes, each equipped with powerful digital telescopes between 14 and 16 inches, connected by a multipurpose room with a spherical dome. We are talking about some of the most modern astronomical facilities opened in early 2009 in Chile and they mean to strongly boost astronomical tourism in the Andean country.
The Pangue Observatory located 17 Km. South of Vicuña in the region IV Chile shares the heavens more clear of the world next to observatories as the Tololo, Soar and Gemini. The place where it is located the Pangue Observatory is attractive not only for its natural beauty, but also by being a place where the observatories are the only human constructions visible.
Collowara Observatory is one of the newest tourist observation centers in Chile. It is situated near the town of Andacollo, in the Fourth Region. It is located at 1300 mts. above sea level on the summit of Cerro Churqui and it is administratd by the Municipality of Andacollo.
A team of professional experts in astronomy developed this complex with modern infrastructure, observation equipment and a beautiful architectural line.
Mamalluca Observatory is located 9 kms. northwest of Vicuña, the observatory opened in November 1998, a project designed by the Municipality of Vicuña together with the Club of Amateur Astronomy (CASMIA) and sponsored by the Inter-American Observatory in Cerro Tololo.
In its first stage of Mamalluca Observatory, (a total of 5) there is a 12-inch telescope donated by AURA. It includes CCD detectors for electronic photography, as well as computer equipment for data transfer. In its second stage we can enjoy a multimedia exhibition room where, in a 1-hour lecture, you can learn, through images and pictures, about everything that surrounds us. In addition to the administration offices, a diner and a souvenirs shop are available for visitors who come to this fascinating place.