Astronomy in Chile

Astronomy In Chile


Chile can be considered the astronomy capital of the world. At present (2011), Chile is home to 42% of the world's astronomy infrastructure of telescopes, and by 2018 it will contain 70% of the global infrastructure. In the Atacama desert region in north, the skies are exceptionally clear and dry for more than 300 days a year. These optimal conditions have led the world's scientific community to develop in the Atacama desert the most ambitious astronomical projects in the history of mankind.

Chile welcomes a diverse and active astronomical community that includes Chilean and international professionals and others, such as astronomers, engineers, students, teachers and amateurs.

The first documented testimony of an astronomical measurement done in Chile is the observation of a lunar eclipse by the soldier Pedro Cuadrado Chavino (June 1582). He used a classic Greek method to obtain the latitude of the city of Valdivia based on the eclipse's measurements. In 1849, during the government of Manuel Bulnes, a scientific mission of the U.S. navy run by James M. Gilliss arrived to Chile for observing Venus and Mars to calculate the Earth-Sun distance. The Gilliss mission established the first astronomical observatory in the Cerro Santa Lucia (Santiago). In 1852, the facilities were transferred to Chile and the National Astronomical Observatory was created. During the second half of the 20th century, the U.S. and European observatories were installed in different locations of the north of the country: La Silla, Cerro Tololo, Las Campanas and later Cerro Paranal, Cerro Pachon and Chajnantor.


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