Cerro Armazones Observatory

Observatorio Cerro Armazones

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.


OCA is geographically located at 70°11'47" west longitude and 24°35'51" south latitude, about 130 kms. southeast of Antofagasta in the so-called Sierra Vicuña Mackenna. It Is located in an area of 52.700 hectares granted to our university by the National Assets Department, at the beginning of the decade of the 90's, as a protected area reserved for astronomical purposes.

The Cerro Armazones is clearly visible in this region. It dominates the landscape with an altitude of 3064 meters above sea level. Aridity, transparency of the sky, and the large number of clear nights per year, make this region one of the most privileged of the world for optical astronomy and close-infrared astronomy. The position of the OCA and the VLT benefits from two important geographic features which contribute to the quality of the skies. On one hand, the Cordillera de la Costa stops cloudy fronts from the Pacific Ocean at low altitudes due to the cold Humboldt ocean current. Furthermore, the Andes stops fronts from the Atlantic Ocean.


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