13 July 2015

A window to the universe

In 1852 the Chilean National Astronomical Observatory (OAN) was created, merely 34 years after the declaration of independence from the Spanish monarchy. The first building and set of astronomical instruments owned by the OAN were purchased from a US Navy scientific expedition that collected data to measure the distance to the Sun in collaboration with observatories in the northern hemisphere.

By the end of that century Chile had become the most active Latin American country in astronomical research. Precise determination of Valparaíso location and southern astronomical charts were among the most important contributions. In 1903 the Mills expedition of Lick Observatory started the operation of a 1-meter telescope in Cerro San Cristobal, by then in the outskirts of the city of Santiago. That telescope is now part of our national heritage and it is still at the same location, now in the middle of the city.

By 1960, there were only 10 astronomical observatories located south of the Equator. This was a recognized problem given the location of many interesting astronomical objects in the southern skies. The next great push for Chilean astronomy came with the installation of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) mostly thanks to impulse given by Federico Rutllant, one of the most prolific directors of OAN in the 1950s. It was also during this time that Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden came together to form the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and then turned their eyes away from South Africa and towards Chilean territory where they found the best climatic and observing conditions for an astronomical observatory. In late 1964 the Chilean government signed the contract with ESO to proceed with the installation of La Silla Observatory (LSO). Since then, the unsurpassed atmospheric and political conditions present in Chile have attracted the international community to invest in a plethora of state-of-the-art scientific facilities.

Currently, close to 40% of all the Optical/Infrared/Submillimeter light that reaches astronomical instruments in the world comes through facilities located in Chile. This figure will rise to 70% in the 2020s, once the next generation of projects are finished. The main astronomical facilities projected are the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) with a diameter of 25 meters, the European Extremely Large Telescope (EELT) with a diameter of 40 meters and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with a diameter of 8.4 meters and a camera of 3200 Megapixels. All of them preceded by the Atacama Large Milimeter Array (ALMA), already in full operation, with 66 antennas each of them with a diameter of 12 meters. All these projects belong to different international consortiums with a total investment estimated in US$ 3750M.

Related

Learn more >

Chile’s enormous potential for developing green hydrogen

 Production of what is being called the “fuel of the future” will be key to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Richness and diversity in traditional Chilean architecture

The first Monday in October is World Architecture Day, created by the International Union of Architects (UIA) to highlight the responsibility of architects in the development of cities.

6 playlists to celebrate Chilean Music Day

Chile comes across loud and clear through its music and that’s why every October 5th we celebrate “Chilean Music and Musicians Day”. Today we invite you to mark this date with a selection of Chile’s best songs and performers. 

Chile, a foreign investment hub for technology

Despite being located at the far end of the planet, Chile has developed numerous ways of staying connected with the world. Perhaps this is due to that spirit of exploration that inspired Magellan on his epic journey, kick-starting globalization through our territory 500 years ago; a spirit that today beats in us stronger than ever.

La Cueca: A Reflection of Our Great Cultural Diversity

With its multicultural and diverse origins, the cueca became Chile’s national dance on September 18, 1979 because it was the dance that had the greatest national presence and historical meaning.  Cueca is danced in different corners of the country, and each geographic area has its own choreographic and musical variations and adaptations. Our cultural wealth and diversity is expressed in the different types of cueca that exist throughout Chile.

In a mining country like Chile, become a Mining Engineer

With the richness of our subsoil, the large investment in mining projects and universities of academic excellence, Chile is the perfect place to study majors related to mining.

International Day Of Clean Air: Electromobility takes to the streets of Santiago

At present, Chile has a bigger fleet of electric buses than any other American or European city.

Chile’s booming video game industry

Not even the pandemic has been able to halt the progress of video games in Chile, a creative industry that is gaining more fans every year both at home and abroad.