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Sky & Telescope Chile Observatory Trip
September 21st - 29th, 2011


ITINEARY 2011 

September 21st, 2011 - DAY 01 – Santiago
Arrive in Santiago and transfer from SCL Airport to hotel and reception in downtown.
Hotel Galerias 4* (Standard rooms ABB)

September 22nd, 2011 - DAY 02 - Santiago
PM Half Day City Tour Santiago
Chile’s capital Santiago is one of the most modern and safest large cities in Latin America. It is known worldwide for its continuous development and its economic, political, and social stability. We will visit Santiago’s civic center, where we will encounter Chile’s historical, architectural, and cultural heritage. We will see distinguished museums, buildings, ancient churches, squares, and parks. Among them, we will visit the metropolitan cathedral, the Precolumbian Art Museum, the Plaza de Armas (main square), the Palacio de la Moneda (the Mint Palace), the Stock Exchange, the Court House, the Forest Park, the ENTEL Tower, the Casa Colorada Museum, and the Club Hipico (Riding Club).    

Another important cultural area is the Bellas Artes neighborhood, where cafés and restaurants are mixed with theaters, museums, and bookstores. We will observe large historical houses and impressive buildings of important architectural value.  We will see the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which houses the Museo Nacional de la Especialidad. We will visit the Bohemian Bellavista neighborhood. This vast area combines the most varied costumes and handicraft trade with restaurants, art galleries, theaters, and jewelry stores. The Cerro San Cristóbal Metropolitan Park offers one of the best panoramic views of the city. The poet Pablo Neruda built one of his homes here, and today it’s a museum.  Finally, we will visit the exquisite neighborhoods of Las Condes, Vitacura, and Santa María de Manquehue.
Hotel Galerias 4* (Standard rooms ABB)

September 23rd, 2011 - DAY 03 – La Serena
Transfer from hotel to Santiago airport.
Fly to La Serena. Transfer La Florida Airport (LSC) to hotel in downtown.
City Tour La Serena and Coquimbo
La Serena was founded in 1544 to facilitate maritime and overland communications with Peru. The city was destroyed by native people (Diaguitas) and re-founded in 1549 by Francisco de Aguirre. The downtown features beautiful colonial-style architecture. Special laws help conserve the buildings and churches, which are National Monuments. The city museum has an important collection of Diaguitas culture artifacts and artwork. La Serena is a prosperous city with a diverse economy that includes fruit exportation, pisco production, mining development, and tourism.
At night, we will visit Observatory Collowara.
Observatory Collowara is located in Cerro El Churqui, about 5 kilometers from Andacollo, and 59 kilometers southeast of La Serena. It was inaugurated on June 25, 2004. It is a scientific, tourist, and education center, and it has a very-high-quality telescope. Facilities include a projection room, entrance hall, access for disabled people, and three direct observation decks.

September 24th, 2011 - DAY 04 – La Serena / Vicuña
Full-day excursion to  the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Gemini South Observatory, and the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope
Night visit to Observatory del Pangue
CTIO is located about 80 kilometers southeast of La Serena, in Elqui Province, at an elevation above 7,000 feet. CTIO is unaffected by light pollution, and it enjoys a transparent atmosphere and proximity to the desert. These characteristics combine to create one of the best places in the world for astronomical observations. This observatory has specialized telescopes and instruments that facilitate advanced scientific research. CTIO has 7 giant telescopes, including the 4-meter Blanco Telescope, which has been operating since 1976. All of the telescopes are equipped with cutting-edge cameras, spectrometers, and photometers, which are used by astronomers for scientific research.
We will then continue to Gemini and SOAR, on the nearby mountaintop Cerro Pachon. Gemini South has an 8.1-meter telescope with a mirror similar to those of the four large telescopes of the VLT at Paranal.
Box Lunch on board, continue to Vicuña.
Snack at a local restaurant in Vicuña.
Transfer to Observatory del Pangue, for a nighttime viewing experience.
Located 18km south of Vicuña, Observatory del Pangue takes its name from the surrounding area, Hacienda El Pangue. The Observatory del Pangue has the largest public telescope in the country and is managed by expert astronomers. Equipment: Meade T630, 25-inch Obsession reflector, Meade LX200R 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain computerized mount, and Orion SkyQuest 12-inch reflector.
Accommodations at Hotel Vicuña 3* (Standard rooms ABB)

September 25th, 2011 - DAY 05 – Vicuña / La Serena
AM Transfer from Vicuña to La Serena.
Visit ESO’s La Silla Observatory
The La Silla Observatory, operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), is located near the town of La Higuera, 159 kilometers north of La Serena in an area free of light pollution. La Silla enjoys clear skies about 300 nights per year. This observatory has 14 telescopes, the largest optical telescope being 3.6 meters in aperture. It also has a 15-meter radio telescope. The observatory, one of the world’s most modern, is operated by an international organization composed of eight European countries.
Box Lunch included.
Hotel Francisco de Aguirre 4* (Standard rooms ABB)

September 26th, 2011 - DAY 06 – La Serena
Full-day excursion to the Elqui Valley
Will we drive to the picturesque Elqui Valley, en route we will visit the Puclaro Reservoir, a production plant of pisco, the lovely town of Vicuña, a museum honoring Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral, and the villages of Pisco Elqui and Paihuano. The quality of the Elqui Valley lands and the abundant Sun allow Chilean farmers to grow many different types of grapes and crops.
Lunch at a restaurant in Vicuña
On the way back at night, we will visit Observatory Cerro Mamalluca for nighttime skygazing.
Observatory Cerro Mamalluca, is a scientific, tourist, and education center, located 9 kilometers northeast of Vicuña. The observatory project began in 1995, and the facility has several telescopes, including a 12-inch telescope that has CCD detectors for astrophotography, as well as computer equipment for the reduction and transfer of data.
Hotel Francisco de Aguirre 4* (Standard rooms ABB)

September 27th, 2011 - DAY 07 – La Serena / Antofagasta
AM Transfer from Hotel La Serena to Hotel Antofagasta.
Take a midday short flight from La Serena to Antofagasta.
Hotel Diego de Almagro 3* SUP (Standard rooms ABB).

September 28th, 2011 - DAY 08 – Antofagasta
AM Visit to ESO’s Paranal Observatory
Paranal Observatory, operated by ESO, is located 123 kilometers south of Antofagasta. Construction began in 1991. The observatory is located at the top of Cerro Paranal 8,600 feet above sea level. Due to its location in the Atacama Desert, the sky has 350 clear nights per year. This observatory is home to the largest and most advanced optical telescope array in the world: the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT consists of four telescopes with primary mirrors 8.2 meters in diameter, 17.5 inches thick, and weighing 23 tons. The four telescopes are individually named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun. Some of the most important astronomical discoveries in recent years have been made by the VLT.
Box Lunch near the observatory
Hotel Diego de Almagro 3* SUP (Standard rooms ABB)

September 29th, 2011 - DAY 09 – Antofagasta
AM Transfer out from hotel to ANF Airport, to take your flight to Santiago, to make the connection to your home country.

 

 

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Contact:
Tom Reynolds - treynolds@spearstravel.com
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