The Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory. // Iztok Boncina/ESO
Next May, I’ll be privileged to lead a group of Astronomy
readers to the greatest site for astronomical observing on the planet, Chile’s Atacama Desert. Please join me on what will be a sensational adventure along with our travel partner, MWT Associates, as we explore the Southern Hemisphere skies. As the great astronomer Bart Bok used to say, “That’s where all the good stuff is,” and that wasn’t much of an exaggeration. For anyone who has seen the Carina Nebula, the Magellanic Clouds, wonders of the southern Milky Way, and numerous far southern deep-sky objects, you know what I’m talking about. The tour will include regular viewing with a 20-inch scope under the world’s best skies.
Our adventure will span May 21–30, 2014, and will start in Santiago, where we’ll explore the city after resting from our flights. The group will then proceed to Antofagasta and then on to the Paranal Observatory on Cerro Paranal, where we’ll explore the Very Large Telescope (VLT), with its four distinctive domes, a part of the European Southern Obervatory. We’ll also see the VLT Survey Telescope and the VISTA Telescope.
From there, we’ll drive to Calama and then to San Pedro de Atacama for some spectacular night-sky viewing. The group will then journey to the amazing El Tatio geysers, travel across the Valley of the Moon, and observe more from the Salty Mountain Range. From there, we’ll travel to La Serena where we’ll get in more deep-sky observing with large scopes.
As a final treat, we’ll explore Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, which hosts an array of telescopes and is run by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. We’ll see the 4-meter Blanco Telescope, the 4.1-m SOAR Telescope, and an array of smaller telescopes including the SMARTS reflectors, the GONG Telescope, the famous Curtis Schmidt, and the Wisconsin H-Alpha Mapper.
What a treat this will be!
for more information.