Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program: We're Here!

Posted by Alison Klesman
on Sunday, June 18, 2017

I woke up just in time to snap this image of our flight tracker as we prepared to land in Santiago, Chile. // All images: Astronomy: Alison Klesman

My first day in Chile has been a busy one so far. After a slightly delayed flight (which, for me, is pretty much par for the course), we touched down in rainy Santiago about seven and a half hours later around 8:30am. Customs wasn’t a difficult process, and soon I’d found my luggage and my driver and was off to our hotel.

Of course, I made the mistake of sitting on the bed “for a few minutes” after checking in – I’m glad I set an alarm, because soon it was nearly 1pm, and time to meet most of the other constituents of my ACEAP trip (more details to come later). I spent an extremely enjoyable afternoon visiting just a few of Santiago’s must-see sights: La Chascona, a home owned by Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, and the view from the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, which first requires a nearly 500-meter funicular ride to the park. Although the weather was a bit rainy and cold, it didn’t stop us from enjoying the afternoon in good company and with lots of photos. The sweeping view of the city and the surrounding mountains (many snow-peaked) was definitely a highlight.

Santiago, Chile, from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal.

Tomorrow marks the first official day of the 2017 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program. We’ll be traveling to the Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) Office of Chilean Affairs in the morning, and I’ll be giving a short talk as part of the program. In the evening, we’re visiting the Observatorio Astronomico Andino. Fortunately, our official program doesn’t start until 11am – I have a feeling all of us will appreciate the extra sleep!

This trip is a bit of an unexpected windfall for me – I still feel incredibly new on staff at Astronomy, though I’ve been assured I’m picking things up quickly, much to my relief. Now I have the privilege, through my employment at the magazine, of filling the position of media liaison as part of the ACEAP 2017 team. I am incredibly thankful for and excited about this opportunity, as not only will it give me a chance to get to know my amazing teammates and learn more about their work and their passion for astronomy, I’ll also get to turn my experiences into what’s likely to be my very first full feature story for the magazine since I joined the staff.

Although I’m relatively new to science writing and editing in a professional capacity, I’m not new to astronomy at all. A few years ago, I earned my Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Florida. Despite the fact that I dealt with multiple datasets over the course of writing my thesis, I never actually got to travel to take any new data. The vast majority of the data I used was archival; while I was awarded time on Gemini South, that data was taken remotely and sent to me after the fact. Nonetheless, the facilities we’ll be visiting – Gemini South, LSST, CTIO, ALMA – are all very familiar in name.

Now, I have the opportunity to actually see these facilities, talk with the staff, and stay up late to view what I’ve heard from anyone and everyone who’s been here is a spectacular sky. I get to do all of this alongside people who are also just as passionate about astronomy education and outreach as I am. I am truly fortunate to have this opportunity, and I hope to do what I can, in turn, to promote this amazing program and share the experiences we’re about to have with astronomy enthusiasts around the world.

I’m looking forward to it all – but first, I think turning in early is in order.

This blog was crossposted on the 2017 ACEAP WordPress Blog

Tags: aceap
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