Northern Chilean skies are known for being among the clearest of the world, and because of this, there are many astronomical observatories where important discoveries are made. This is why astronomical tourism is becoming a popular alternative for tourists. However, all these projects are of an international origin. The first public astronomical observatory of Chile is the local proposal for studying the universe and for letting people know more about the astronomer’s work.
This observatory is currently under construction in the Yungay ex-station, on the road to Paranal in Antofagasta region. The Universidad de Antofagasta and its Astronomy Unit are in charge of the project. It is hoped to be operative in March and the public will be able to visit it by this year’s second semester. The 3 x 14 mt. precinct will have four telescopes: two movables ones of 20 cm diameter, one of 35 cm for educational and diffusion activities, and one of 60 cm for research. The objective of the project is that, when people visit the place, they can see and learn more about how astronomers professionally do observations and gather data.
In addition, this project is complemented by the “Primera Luz” (First Light) program, which entails an education plan, and will benefit the whole community through astronomical education and tourism for the region. The program consists of visiting schools and public spaces to give talks and offer the possibility of looking through solar telescopes. This has had a direct impact on primary and high school students.
Currently, the observatory does not have a name. This is why there is a contest for choosing one. If you are interested in this, visit the project’s fanpage on Facebook Proyecto Primera Luz (in Spanish).