The ‘soul” of Chilean astronomy
The ALMA (which means ‘soul’ in Spanish) Observatory is located in San Pedro de Atacama and is an international facility with over 66 high-precision antennas at a height of 5,000 metres. At weekends you can visit the encampment where the station’s personnel work, as long as you have previously registered on its website.
However, stargazing is not reserved solely for professionals. Enthusiasts and visitors are increasingly stopping to admire the star-filled sky. Astrotourism has been born; Chile is home to some observatories focused mainly on tourism. Many scientists also open the doors of their laboratories during the daytime to inquisitive passerbys.
At the Mamalluca Observatory in the Elqui Valley, they organise tours every night and thanks to the guide’s explanations, the stars appear just that little bit closer. The immensity of galaxies, nebulas and constellations overcome those who observe them through the telescope donated by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. This is one of the oldest centres in the Southern Hemisphere which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2013.