Chile has the clearest skies in the entire southern hemisphere, as well as being home to some of the largest and most important scientific observatories in the world.
If the chilean scenarios already surprise tourists for their unique characteristics and surreal landscapes, those who look up have even more reasons to be enchanted. With 300 days of clear skies a year, in addition to unique geographic and climatic conditions, the Chile It is the ideal place to gaze at the stars amid lush landscapes.
With such a favorable scenario, stargazing tourism, known as astrotourism, grows more and more in the country. That's why, if you have a trip to Chile planned, you should consider including in your itinerary an amazing astronomical tour to be enchanted by the constellations, planets, shooting stars and all kinds of stars that decorate the Chilean skies.
Chile: the perfect country to admire the sky
There is no place on the planet for the observation of the stars than Chile. To give you an idea, the country not only boasts ideal conditions for the activity, such as low air humidity, few dust particles, geographical diversity of terrains and a large number of days with open weather, but also has more than 40% of infrastructure for astronomical observation of the world – a number that could increase by 60% for the next ten years.
In this way, Chile offers some of the largest and best world-class scientific observatories spread throughout the country. There are more than 30 observatories open to the public in different regions of Chile.
Free visits to Chilean observatories
For those who want to learn more about astronomical phenomena, some Chilean scientific observatories offer free daytime visits. However, spaces are limited and must be reserved in advance, as the demand for astrotourism in Chilean regions increases every day.
The tip is to book visits at least a month in advance. Below, we list some observatories that open their doors to the public and how to visit them:
The Cerro Paranal Observatory is located 130 km south of Antofagasta, on the northern coast of Chile. Visits are held only on the last two weekends of each month and allow you to tour its incredible facilities with some of the most advanced optical instruments in the world, as well as providing access to a wealth of astronomy information. For more information, Click here.
The most famous Chilean observatory and the largest terrestrial astronomical project in the world is located at over 5,000 meters in the middle of the Atacama Desert. The complex houses 66 telescopes or radio antennas that together study the birth of galaxies, stars and planets.
To carry out the visits, which take place every Saturday and Sunday morning, it is necessary to register on the website clicking here. During the tour, it is possible to visit the room where the ALMA team works and view the maintenance laboratories, in addition to the antennas of the observatory.
In the port city of Coquimbo is Cerro Tololo, an observatory located at 2200 meters above sea level that features a radio telescope and seven optical telescopes. The space opens to the public every Saturday with a limit of 40 visits per day.
A tip is to book in advance, especially from December to March. Tours are carried out free of charge by a professional guide. For more information about scheduling, Click here.
Very close to Cerro Tololo is the Gemini Observatory, which houses a system of optical infrared telescopes that allow you to observe the sky in both hemispheres.
The observatory offers free excursions on Fridays, which are carried out by specialized guides in groups of a maximum of 8 people. It is necessary to schedule visits two months in advance through the website clicking here.
La Silla Observatory
The La Silla Observatory is located in the Atacama Desert, more precisely 600 kilometers north of Santiago, at an altitude of 2400 meters. It is recognized as the most productive astronomical center in the world and does not allow access to children under 5 years of age for safety reasons.
Visits take place on Saturdays, from 2pm to 5pm, and more information should be consulted on the observatory website clicking here.
Special itineraries to observe the sky
What already seems incredible gets even better: astrotourism tours in Chile go beyond visiting the observatories and allow true experiences together with the observation of the sky. In the Atacama Desert, for example, there is the so-called ethno-astrotourism or archaeo-astronomy, which offers the visitor the opportunity to understand the impact that the constellations had on the lives of the Andean peoples.
Some observatories customize visits and offer tours with varied values ranging from horseback riding under the stars to outdoor experiences, a true immersion in the world of the constellations. Other programs, offered by agencies and guides, allow an astrophotographic tour, where photographers invite tourists to “hunt” for the most spectacular images of the galaxy.
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