STARS OF THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE - MAMALLUCA AMATEUR OBSERVATORY VISIT
Departure: 19:00 hrs. Until 00:00 hrs
(Minimun 3 paxs)
Leaving La Serena in the early evening the drive to the city of Vicuña is along Route 41 through the Elqui Valley and takes approximately an hour. There is a short stop at the main square, the Plaza de Armas in the center of Vicuna to collect the pass from the Municipal offices. After leaving the town the way to the Municipal Amateur Observatory is through the village of San Isidro following up the unpaved road to the open aspect where the observatory buildings are located.
Upon arrival the staff give an explanation and introduction to the stars, planets and galaxies. Small groups allow visitors access to use the 12 inch diameter telescope which is installed in the small dome or to use the portable telescopes outside in order to observe the stars in one of the clearest atmospheres in the world. The installation is 1200 meters above sea level and with minimal light pollution.
Here more than 300 nights per year have clear skies and it is no accident that three of the worlds' most important scientific observatories are situated in this region. These scientific observatories are not open to the public for nighttime visits and their instruments are only for use by professional astronomers. Astronomy in the Coquimbo Region has given rise during recent years to an increasing upturn in the number of visitors who come here to enjoy observing the Southern Hemisphere Skies at night.
This amateur observatory with its practical hands on approach and its good location in the hills is increasing its facilities to accommodate the developing interest in astro-tourism.
Time is allowed for the visitor to observe the stars and watch the skies unfold above in one of the few places where the skies are so clear that up to the eighth magnitude can be observed with the naked eye and the center of a galaxy can be easily seen.