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.
It belongs to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), based in Garching, Germany, from where they remote control some of their satellite telescopes. It currently employs around 250 people and between 700 to 1,000 professional astronomers visit it each year.
What to visit at the observatory?
A tour of La Silla, consists of various stages:
a) Informative lectures and institutional videos
b) Visits to the telescopes
d) Questions to the guide
3 guides are specialized in the field, usually physics professors or engineering students and they dominate up to 4 languages. The tour of La Silla takes about 3 hours and it is visited by a large number of foreign students and tourists.