Observatories

The clear and dry skies of Northern Chile make it an ideal location for astronomical observation. Therefore, several world-class observatories are situated here, especially in the Atacama desert. Three of the most famous are the Paranal, ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array) and the Mamalluca observatories.

The Paranal Observatory, officially known as the Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is located on Cerro Paranal, a mountain in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, one of the driest and least light-polluted regions on Earth. Paranal is home to a complex of some of the world’s most advanced optical and infrared telescopes. The most prominent telescope at the site is the Very Large Telescope (VLT), which consists of four individual optical telescopes, each with a primary mirror that is 8.2 meters (27 feet) in diameter. The ESO is supported by 16 European member states and hosts astronomers and scientists from around the world.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is another world-class observatory located nearby in the Atacama Desert. While Paranal specializes in optical and infrared observations, ALMA focuses on radio and submillimeter wavelengths. Together, these observatories contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the universe.

The Mamalluca observatory is situated in the Elqui Valley, near the town of Vicuña, making it easily accessible by road. Unlike many research observatories, Mamalluca is open to the public, and visitors can participate in guided tours and observation sessions. The observatory offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to explore the wonders of the night sky, including viewing celestial objects such as the Moon, planets like Jupiter and Saturn, star clusters, and distant galaxies.


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