Astronomy in Chile

Foreign Professional Observatories in Chile

aic01La Silla Observatory Photo credit: E.S.O.
La Silla is a 2400-m mountain, bordering the southern extremity of the Atacama desert in Chile. It is located about 160 Km north of La Serena. Its geographical coordinates are: Latitude 29º 15′ south & Longitude 70º 44′ west. Originally known as Cinchado, the mountain was renamed La Silla (the saddle) after its shape. It rises quite isolated and remote from any artificial light and dust sources astronomy’s worst enemies. La Silla was the first ESO observatory built in Chile. Its history is full of optimism and disappointments, ups and downs, since its beginnings in the 50’s until the middle of the 70’s when the observatory became a reality.


aic02Cosmic Background Imager Photo credit: CALTECH
The Cosmic Background Imager (CBI) is a special-purpose radio telescope designed to study the cosmic microwave background radiation from the early universe. It is located at an altitude of 5080 m (16,700 feet) in the Chilean Andes. The CBI Project is a collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the University of Chicago, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Universidad de Chile, and the Universidad de Concepción. The project has been supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, the California Institute of Technology, Maxine and Ronald Linde, Cecil and Sally Drinkward, Barbara and Stanley Rawn Jr., the Kavli Institute, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


aic03Gemini South  Photo credit: A.U.R.A.
The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8-meter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best sites on our planet for observing the universe. Together these telescopes can access the entire sky. The Gemini telescopes have been integrated with modern networking technologies to allow remote operations from control rooms at the base facilities in Hilo and La Serena Chile. With the flexibility of Queue Scheduling and remote participation, researchers anywhere in the Gemini partnership will be assured the best possible match between observation, instrument and observing conditions.


aic04Atacama Pathfinder Experiment Photo credit:Max Planck Institut
APEX, the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, is a collaboration between Max Planck Institut f¼r Radioastronomie (MPIfR) in collaboration with Astronomisches Institut Ruhr-Universit Bochum (AIRUB) at 50%, Onsala Space Observatory (OSO) at 23%, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at 27% to construct and operate a modified ALMA prototype antenna as a single dish on the high altitude site of Llano Chajnantor. The telescope was supplied by VERTEX Antennentechnik in Duisburg, Germany. Observing with APEX will allow us to study warm and cold dust in starforming regions both in our own Milky Way and in distant galaxies in the young universe. High frequency spectral lines enable the exploration of the structure and chemistry of planetary atmospheres, dying stars, molecular clouds as well as inner regions of starburst galaxies. We will address issues from the vast scales of the structure of the Universe down to the physics and chemistry of comets.


aic05Cerro Tololo Inter-american Observatory Photo credit: CTIO
The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory is located about 500km north of Santiago, Chile, about 70km east of La Serena, at an altitude of 2200 meters. On site are several optical telescopes, and one radio telescope. CTIO operates the 4-m Blanco telescope, and will also operate the new 4.1-m SOAR Telescope, which is on the adjacent Cerro Pachon, next to the 8-m Gemini Telescope. From February 1 2003 through January 31 2006 the CTIO 1.5-m, 1.3-m and 0.9-m telescopes are being operated by the SMARTS Consortium. During 2004 the 1.0-m telescope was added.


lsst_fot Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Photo credit: LSST Corporation
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a proposed ground-based 8.4-meter, 10 square-degree-field telescope that will provide digital imaging of faint astronomical objects across the entire sky, night after night. In a relentless campaign of 15 second exposures, LSST will cover the available sky every three nights, opening a movie-like window on objects that change or move on rapid timescales: exploding supernovae, potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids, and distant Kuiper Belt Objects. The superb images from the LSST will also be used to trace billions of remote galaxies and measure the distortions in their shapes produced by lumps of Dark Matter, providing multiple tests of the mysterious Dark Energy.


aste_fot Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment Photo credit: ASTE
The Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE) is a project to operate a high precision 10 m submillimeter telescope at a high altitude site (4860 m) at Atacama desert in Northern Chile. The major goals of the project are (1) to explore the southern sky with submillimeter waves up to 900 GHz, and (2) development and on-site evaluation of observation techniques and methods for submillimeter observations. The project is driven by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) in collaboration with Universidad de Chile, and Japanese institutes including University of Tokyo, Nagoya University, Osaka-Prefecture University, Ibaragi University, and Kobe University.


act_fot Atacama Cosmology Telescope Photo credit: A.C.T.
The Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) project aims to observe the microwave sky in three frequency bands at high angular resolution and sensitivity over a substantial region of the sky. The ACT itself is a custom-designed 6-meter off-axis Gregorian telescope built by AMEC Dynamic Structures. It has no moving components in its optical path; to change pointing direction, the entire telescope moves, including an attached ground screen. ACT is designed to scan the sky at constant elevation, to minimizing the varying atmospheric microwave signal from looking through different amounts of atmosphere. The ACT collaboration is composed of around 35 faculty-level investigators from 17 institutions in the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. ACT will be located on Cerro Toco in the Atacama Desert of the Chilean Andes at an alititude of 5100 m.


ccat_fotCornell-Caltech Atacama Telescope Photo credit: C.C.A.T.
The Cornell-Caltech Atacama Telescope (CCAT) CCAT is a project to build a 25-m single-aperture telescope above 5000m in the Atacama region of Chile. The remarkably low water vapour in the atmosphere will allow extended operation in the farinfrared windows of the spectrum (200 and 350 microns) accessible from the ground. Such observations will probe the peak emission from the cosmic far-IR/submm background and proto-stellar cores allowing the investigation of the earliest stages of the formation of galaxies and stars. With its wide field-of-view the telescope will study the many phenomena visible in the submm that extend over several degrees but also contain significant sub-structure on arcsecond scales. Hence CCAT is seen as the perfect wide-field complement that is essential to fully exploit the capabilities of interferometers, such as ALMA.


aic06Las Campanas Observatory Photo credit: O.C.I.W.
The Magellan Project a collaboration between the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW), University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to construct two 6.5 Meter optical telescopes in the southern hemisphere. The telescopes will be located at Las Campanas Observatory, at an altitude of 8000 feet in the Chilean Andes, and operated by OCIW.


almAtacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) Photo credit: N.R.A.O.
ALMA ” the Atacama Large Millimeter Array ” will be a single instrument composed of 64 high-precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plain of the Chilean Andes in the District of San Pedro de Atacama, 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) above sea level.
ALMA™s primary function will be to observe and image with unprecedented clarity the enigmatic cold regions of the Universe, which are optically dark, yet shine brightly in the millimeter portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.


vc4Paranal Observatory Photo credit: E.S.O.
The ESO Very Large Telescope consists of an array of four 8-meter telescopes which can work independently or in combined mode. In this latter mode the VLT provides the total light collecting power of a 16 meter single telescope. The telescopes may also be used in
interferometric mode providing high resolution imaging. The useful wavelength range extends from the near UV up to 25 µm in the infrared.


Chilean Professional Observatories 


Chilean Universities that teach astronomy 

Universidad de Chile
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Universidad de Concepcion
Universidad de La Serena
Universidad Catolica del Norte