Chile Astronomy


las-campanas-sunsetI’m taking a blogging hiatus this week for spring break, so I don’t have any new updates. Instead, I’ll distract you with these rather ancient photos from my 2009 trip to Chile for astronomy work.

las-campanas-observatory-hill

We were at the Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The LCO is home to the two 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes, which started operations in the early 2000’s. I worked with the one on the right, the Walter Baade Telescope.

walter-baade-telescope

The telescope itself is impressively big and require a wall full of computer monitors to keep track of everything.

We spent a week observing faint galaxies and a pulsar, staying up 4 straight nights in the name of science.  The accommodations were like small cabins and the (delicious!) food was prepared by a local chef. I knew very little Spanish, but could get by with asking for meat or vegetables.las-campanas-observatory-housingEach night of observing we waited for the sun to set and started up the telescope to get calibrated as it got dark.  The night sky was incredible, of course, and even more so because it was my first time in the Southern Hemisphere so I saw things I never would have been able to from back home.

las-campanas-observatory-after-dark

Overall an amazing experience, from the condors to the Milky Way. I’d like to get back to Chile with more time to spare for the sights (and the beach!), but I’m happy to have had this opportunity to dig into some real astronomy as an undergrad. While the work we did wasn’t directly related to my own thesis, you can read more about some of what we observed here.

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