Perfect Chilean night sky has more to offer to its abundant observatories
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Perfect Chilean night sky has more to offer to its abundant observatories

Over the last decades, Chile has become a global astronomy pioneer.

The skies of northern Chile are considered the best in the world for observatory viewing. With its crystal clear skies and bone dry air, the Atacama Desert in northern Chile has long drawn astronomers and other space enthusiasts. Its stretch of about 650 miles along the Pacific Ocean to the Peruvian Border, in combination with being the driest place on earth, makes the Atacama Desert a unique and ideal mecca for both ground-based reflector and far-infrared astronomy.

There are places in the Atacama where there have been no recorded or observed rainfall in more than 400 years since the Spaniards arrived. A handful of international collaborations have taken shape and Chile now hosts a number of the most powerful astronomical ground-based observatories on Earth.

Famous observatories

With around 15 observatories taking up residence in the area, it is no surprise that northern Chile houses the most powerful telescopes in the world, operated by various international entities.

The Paranal Observatory, operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), houses the Very Large Telescope. ESO also runs the APEX Observatory, Observatorio La Silla and Observatorio Cerro Armazones in different areas across the Atacama Desert.

Perhaps one of the most famous observatories located in Chile is the Tololo Observatory, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). One of the most modern observatories, Observatorio Gemini, also belongs to AURA, involving joint participation from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The Las Campanas Observatory is operated by the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Major astronomy projects have also set up residence in northern Chile. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a project completed by Google and 19 other universities and laboratories, provides a view that enables astronomers to see the entire atmospheric range visible from Earth, using a digital camera of three billion pixels.

The first truly global astronomical project, the Alma Observatory, aims to develop a telescope which has never before been seen by astronomers around the globe. It consists of a group of up to 66 radio telescope antennas working together.  The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), is also in the Atacama Desert. With a primary mirror of 42 meters in diameter, the E-ELT is the largest ‘eye’ in the world to look at the sky.

The rise of Astrotourism

Astronomers can bring their own optical instruments to the Atacama Desert to observe the southern skies. One telescope will be the Santilli Telescope, responsible for the confirmed detections of antimatter galaxies and other anomalous sky objects.

Thunder Energies Corporation (OTCQB: TNRG), one of the industry leaders in breakthrough technological equipment, encourages professional and amateur astronomers to explore the space using the Santilli Telescope.

“The Santilli Telescope will pull back the heavens’ curtains,  thus  enabling  amateur  astronomers  to  photograph visual evidences  of  antimatter  galaxies for the first time,”  said Thunder Energies President and COO Dr George Gaines. “Discovery has always been a motivating factor in amateur astronomy, and with the Santilli Telescope, discovery can happen.”

On the other hand, astronomers and space enthusiasts can also enjoy going to various observatories open to the public. A growing number of Chileans and foreigners have been visiting the various facilities to observe the skies during the past decade.

For example, the Observatorio Mamalluca is a project designed by the Municipality of Vicuña together with the Club of Amateur Astronomy (CASMIA). Aside from the telescopes, there is a multimedia exhibition room where a one-hour lecture full of images and pictures show tourists what surrounds the Earth.

Observatorio Collowara is known for its complex and modern infrastructure, observation equipment and a beautiful architectural line. Observatorio del Pangue is attractive not only for its natural beauty, but also by being a place where the observatories are the only human constructions visible. The absence of light pollution next to the climatic conditions allow the observatory to offer a high-quality service. Observatorio Cruz del Sur houses some of the most modern astronomical facilities in Chile. They are also meant to strongly boost astronomical tourism in the Andean country.

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