In February 1999 we travelled to the Elqui Valley (Chile) to enjoy one golden day and its starry night to be blessed by the heavens and to renew our intimate liturgy in the nature. Vicuña is the town in the heart of the Valley, surrounded by colorful “cerros” (mountains) in a dreamy panorama. There is by there a popular astronomical observatory called “Mamalluca”, well implemented and run by the Municipality. During years I had the longing of going there to admire the Milky Way in the starry wind. The Chilean sky is World famous for its transparency, and due to that we have the greatest and most advanced astronomical observatories of the World, such as Cerro Paranal and La Silla (both of ESO), Las Campanas, Cerro Tololo, Mega World Project “ALMA” (acronym that also means “soul” in Spanish) in San Pedro de Atacama (radio astronomy), etc.
On December 28, 2006, at the beginning of summer, I returned to the Elqui Valley in a nostalgic and solitary journey. It was not the liturgy for renewing our vows but my personal farewell and prayer revering a star that had been personified to enlighten my life, my brightest evening star (“lucero”), Sirius and the very Stella Maris altogether. The weather was wonderful in the Valley and I stayed overnight in the fine hotel and resort Hostería de Vicuña, fixing so my unaccomplished desire of February 1999.
Late in the evening I went up to the Mamalluca Astronomical Observatory located on one of the cerros that surround the Valley, precisely Cerro Mamalluca (pronounce “Mamayuka”). In the open air there were field telescopes, and the big one was in the Observatory’s Dome in a fancy building.
At midnight, after a scientific lecture on the Zodiac, I watched the heavens through the telescopes and also by naked eye advised by astronomers, who used long range laser pointers to drive our sight into the sky right up to the celestial bodies about which they went giving rich data and considerations (moreover the great “precision” of the laser pointers astonished me!). Every night hundreds of people meet there rendering half a rite and half a celestial adventure. It was for me great spiritual experience, which concentrated my childhood desires learning Ancient History on Assyrians and Egyptians, and my studies of Cosmology in my university years, and later reading about Astronomy and mathematical and physical sciences. I had Carl Sagan profoundly in my heart, still listening to his Voyager’s gold disc.
Immensity, complexity and beauty of the Universe have always let me in ecstasy and profoundly meditative; the essence of it –space-time, mass, matter, light, gravity, emptiness, and Mathematics– constitute the Divinity, if any.
I watched through a field telescope the intensely white-blue star Sirius, which is 22 times brighter than our Sun and has twice its mass (it is a binary system). It was majestic experience seeing it, and also watching the red giant star Betelgeuse nearby, which appeared through the telescope spectacularly big and reddish.
Through the big Dome’s telescope I watched the cluster of the Pleiades. Only a few stars can difficulty be seen by naked eye in that region of the space, but suddenly the telescope revealed hundreds of sparkling stars forming the cluster, making it so vividly that seemed a miracle.
The Three Maries –forming the belt of Orion– constitute grand gift for the mortals. I watched them at Mamalluca in their glorious splendor outshining the crystal sky of the Valley. They accompanied our love all along Chile during many adventurous and blissful nights. Only the resplendent Southern Cross (Crux) was missing due to the time it was, but in my heart it was shining as the celestial jewel that united us intimately on Earth, and which we watched with emotion in so many idyllic nights along Chile.
From the Observatory I returned to the Hostería of Vicuña late in the night, only accompanied by the whirling arm of the Milky Way, scintillating and consoling, holding her in my heart with the splendor of thousand suns. She will remain there illuminating my path to eternity.
Raúl Hernández Olea - raul hernandez chile - raul hernandez - hernandez
Great story! So vivid and rich! Welcome to the forum!
Meade 12 Inch LX200 GPS w/ Dell Lattitude D520 Laptop
There is this special link for the popular Mamalluca (pronounce "Mamayuka") Astronomical Observatory in the Elqui Valley (pronounce "Elky"), Northern Chile, run by the Municipality of the Town of Vicuña in the heart of the Valley.
"The Three Maries -forming the belt of
Orion- constitute grand gift for the mortals." (AndesEbla quoted from Sirius
& The Pleiades)
A new telescope at Cerro Paranal - VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for
Astronomy) - has just started work at ESO's Paranal Observatory and has made
its first release of pictures.
The Three Maries (Orion's Belt) and the
The first released image shows the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), a spectacular star-forming cloud of gas and dust in the familiar constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings. In visible light the core of the object is hidden behind thick clouds of dust, but the VISTA image, taken at infrared wavelengths, can penetrate the murk and reveal the cluster of hot young stars hidden within. The wide field of view of the VISTA camera also captures the glow of NGC 2023 and the ghostly form of the famous Horsehead Nebula.
Hernández Olea - raul hernandez chile - raul