Star Gazing in Chile
Chile is an astronomer’s dreamland: Its narrow strip of land is sandwiched between the Pacific and the Andes in the west and east; between the Atacama Desert and Torres del Paine National Park in the north and south. The country is sparsely populated and is one of the few places on earth where you could enjoy star gazing without bothering with “light pollution.” That’s why some of the leading observatories of the world have been erected here! Besides, you would have several smaller tourist observatories for amateurs and astrophotographers. Here we have made a shortlist of places you should be looking for a “star trek” in Chile.
OUR GUIDE TO STAR GAZING
This lush valley, a 1,5 hour drive away from the coastal town of La Serena, is where the vineyards of Chile’s top pisco distillers, and some leading tourist observatories with scientific-grade telescopes for star gazing are gathered. The valley has several pleasant accommodation alternatives, some of which coming in the form of geodesic domes with retractable roofs for stargazing.
SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA & ANTOFAGASTA
The northern part of Chile has more than 200 cloudless days, thanks to its dry desert atmosphere. Here, you can view the southern sky even with the naked eye, which is invisible from the countries north of the Equator. Most of the scientific observatories here are open to visitors once a week during the day, usually on saturdays.
SPACE (San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations)
Photos, from the top: Total solar eclipse observed from ESO’s La Silla Observatory (ESO / P. Horálek); ALMA antennas and the central regions of the Milky Way above (ESO / B. Tafreshi); icy outcrops illuminated by moonlight (ESO / B. Tafreshi); Piedras Rojas in Atacama Desert (Konstantinos Ouzounidis); Milky Way galaxy over La Silla Observatory (ESO / B. Tafreshi).