Chilean online observatory takes world by storm

The Mobile Observatory app, which allows anyone to admire the crystal clear skies of the Atacama from anywhere on Earth, has captured headlines and users from around the planet.

The pristine skies of Northern Chile offer an unparalleled view into the heavens. These vast, otherworldly expanses of desert, rising high into the altiplano, draw astronomers and sightseers from around the world.

The clarity with which distant galaxies, shooting stars, blazing meteors and cosmic dust can be seen in the Atacama Desert, the Elqui Valley and countless other astronomy hotspots in the region make stargazing in the North an experience unlike any other.

Now, you don’t have to make the pilgrimage to Chile’s astronomy mecca, nor work on one the many cutting-edge, international telescopes in the area to appreciate what locals see every night for free.

Thanks to a new app, you can see a hundred of the most awe inspiring glimpses into the heavens for free, from your bedroom, wherever you live in the world.

And the world has taken note. Launched Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Mobile Observatory app has already captured headlines in countries such as the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, as well as on international news providers such as Yahoo News.

Uptake has been quick as well, both in Chile and across the planet.

For Angelica Avila, the free app gave her the chance to share a true marvel of the universe with her daughter.

“I love it, I’m dying to show it to my three-year-old daughter,” she wrote on her Google+ review.

Pedro Ovalle-Rauch reaction was much more personal.

“Wow. It changed my life,” he wrote.

The Mobile Observatory app was created by Fundación Imagen de Chile, and selects the best images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA), the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) and the La Silla Observatory, all of which are based in Northern Chile.

See it here, or better yet, find out more about astronomical sightseeing in Northern Chile here.