Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

May 18, 2013

SKIES OVER CHILE IN SPANISH AMERICA




MOONSET OVER THE NORTHERN DESERT.


AT PARANAL


 Click to enlarge


Source: ESO - CC BY 2.0. Flickr 


When I was younger I wanted to be a research scientist, specializing in advanced Physics.

Yes, that was my dream as I neared the end of my years in High School. At that time the most advanced theories and applications in Physics were related to nuclear physics, so that was my objective.

I actually transferred to the US and entered the University of West Virginia as a first year undergraduate. There I discovered that at that time (early 1960s) women did not study Physics. There were only three of us intending to major in this science in the entire department. Added to the fact that I was from Chile, but did not need to take English for foreign students, my poor advisor just didn’t seem to know what to do with me!

After a lot of frustrating experiences, I ended up back in Chile and graduated from my local University as a teacher of Math and Physics, a lifelong career which I loved.

Nowadays, the topic of note is Astrophysics, and Chile has become an important international center for this research.

So this post will be about the observatories that have sprung up in recent years in the northern deserts of Chile, an important international investment in this corner of Spanish America


SEARCHING THE SKIES ABOVE THE DESERT SANDS OF NORTHERN CHILE.


ANOTHER PERFECT DAY AT PARANAL



 Click to enlarge


Source: ESO - J.F.Salgado, CC BY 30. Wikimedia Commons 


Nature has been very generous to Chile and this lovely country has reaped many benefits from this generosity.

The deserts in the extreme north of Chile are classified as the driest on this planet. Day after day, the sun beats down, there is very little moisture and the skies are completely cloudless and clear. This huge area, apparently barren and useless, offers the highest percentage of perfectly clear nights per year in the whole world. In fact, it is an astrophysicist’s dream world!

The visibility at night is superb, a fact that has been taken into consideration for the installation of various important international observatories.

These installations are extremely expensive to set up and to run, but this is being done through international financing on a grand scale. Chile is now being visited by a veritable swarm of international experts. 

These are a few of the observatories:


  • ALMA – Atacama Large Millimeter Array) is located on the high plain of Chajnantor, and is one of the newest centers, run by the US, Eastern Asia and Chile. It is located 5000 meters above sea level.

  • Gemini Observatory is installed near La Serena at Cerro Tololo, and is run by a consortium formed by the US, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. It is called Gemini because its sister installation is located in Hawaii.

  • Paranal Observatory is located south of Antofagasta, on Cerro Paranal. It is run by the ESO, European Southern Observatory, and figured in the James Bond film called Quantum of Solace.

These seem to be the most important locations, but there are a large number of minor installations. They seem to be growing like mushrooms!



CERRO PARANAL OBSERVATORY


SUNSET AT PARANAL


Click to enlarge


Source: ESO, F.Kamphues, CC BY 30. Wikimedia Commons


In this post, I have chosen to refer to one specific center, the one known as Paranal.

I like this one, for no other reason than because I taught English to an engineer who worked there. The area near Antofagasta is also familiar to me, I was born somewhere in that area, and I do have a feeling for the grandeur of that grim scenery.

The buildings of the Paranal complex are located on a hill at an altitude of about 2,600 meters (8,600 ft) above sea level. The distance to Antofagasta, the nearest urban center, is about 120 Kms. (70 miles).

Paranal owns a Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the experts can also count on the use of a Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). There are also several smaller telescopes installed there.

The ESO is also running VISTA - that is Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy.

Here you can see some photos of this dream place.

COMET LOVEJOY, VIEWED AT PARANAL


 Click to enlarge


 Source: ESO, Guillaume Blanchard, CC BY 3.0. Wikimedia Commons


CELESTIAL CONJUNCTION: THE MOON, VENUS AND JUPITER



Click to enlarge


Source: ESO, Y.Beletsky, CC BY 30. Wikimedia Commons


PARANAL AT WORK: THOR'S HELMET NEBULA



 Click to enlarge

Source: ESO, CC BY 2.0. Flickr 

LASER RAY STRAIGHT TO THE CENTER OF THE GALAXY



Click to enlarge

 Source: ESO, CC BY 2.0. Flickr

THE PARLA LASER, SEEN FROM WITHIN THE INSTALLATIONS



Click to enlarge

Source: ESO, CC BY 2.0. Flickr 


THE MILKY WAY ABOVE PARANAL



Click to enlarge

Source: ESO, S.Deiries, CC BY 30. Wikimedia Commons

 I hope you enjoy these views!



SPANISH VERSION


(This Blog is bilingual)


Este post corresponde a mi publicación semanal para participar con mi grupo de Blogueros y Blogueras en un Blog Hop.

Comienzo relatando mi interés por la Física y especialmente por el estudio de la Física avanzada. Cuando estaba recién egresada de la secundaria, me fui a los EE UU precisamente para estudiar esta gran ciencia, pero me frustré y volví a Chile para estudiar en mi Universidad de Concepción. Ahí me gradué como profesora de Matemática y Física, carrera que disfruté toda mi vida.

En la actualidad, la investigación pionera en Física se está desarrollando en el campo de la Astrofísica, y Chile se ha convertido en un importante centro en esta materia.


LA OBSERVACION DE LOS CIELOS SOBRE LOS DESIERTOS DEL NORTE DE CHILE.


La Naturaleza ha sido muy generosa con mi país, y los chilenos hemos obtenido muchos beneficios de esta generosidad.

Tal es así, que los desiertos de las regiones del extremo norte, aparentemente improductivos, han sido clasificados como los más secos del mundo. La ausencia de cualquier vestigio de humedad a su vez ha permitido contar con cielos muy despejados durante la casi totalidad de los días y las noches del año.

De esta forma, esta zona desértica se ha transformado en un paraíso para los astrofísicos de todo el mundo.

Las instalaciones que se necesitan para la observación del universo exterior, son extremadamente caras para construir y mantener, por lo que esta tarea se está realizando con el aporte de grandes consorcios internacionales.

Algunos de estos centros son los siguientes:


  • ALMA, en la planicie de Chajnantor, a unos 5000 metros de altura, administrado por los EE UU, Asia del Este y Chile.

  • El Observatorio Gemini, ubicado cerca de La Serena sobre el Cerro Tololo. Está dirigido por un conglomerado de varios países, tales como los EE UU., Canadá, Chile, Brasil, Argentina y Australia.

  • El Observatorio Paranal,  ubicado sobre el Cerro Paranal, se encuentra a unos 120 kms al sur de Antofagasta. Corresponde al Observatorio Europeo del Sur, y tuvo presencia en la película de James Bond llamada Quantum of Solace.


 

EL OBSERVATORIO PARANAL.


Este observatorio resulta ser mi favorito, por razones sólo sentimentales. 

Durante un año, le hice clases de inglés a un funcionario de este observatorio y además, está en la región de Antofagasta y por tanto se ubica en la misma área de mi lugar de nacimiento. Confieso que tengo un buen sentimiento hacia este paisaje un tanto intimidante.

La majestuosidad de Paranal se puede apreciar a través de fotos, las palabras nunca serán suficientes. Por tanto las que incluí más arriba darán una visión más clara del lugar.


¡A disfrutar entonces con estas vistas!



More about similar topics in a future post.     Más sobre temas similares en un próximo post.



LANGUAGE TIPS FOR ENGLISH


Words that go together!  * Spend some time  - * Launch a new project  - * Come to a decision   - * Get permission   – * Go astray


LANGUAGE TIPS FOR SPANISH.


Expresiones de uso frecuente: * Donde hay humo, hay calor - * El amor todo lo puede  - * El éxito llama al éxito 


How is your level of comprehension?   ¿Cómo está su nivel de comprensión?



© 2013  joanveronica  (Joan Robertson)


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