Chile: Our Window Into the Universe
OF CLEAR SKY
Science at Its Best
The Giant Magellan Telescope will take advantage of LCO’s remote location, away from light pollution and the thin atmosphere of Las Campanas Peak, LCO’s highest point at 2,514 meters above sea level. On the peak, telescope seeing is among the best in the world. The median seeing is 0.63 arcseconds at 5000 Å, with the best quartile below 0.50 arcseconds. The desert’s low precipitable water vapor content improves the telescope’s sensitivity at infrared wavelengths, providing amazing optical and infrared observing conditions for more than 300 nights of the year.
Prime Conditions for Viewing the Universe
Chile Is an Astronomical Powerhouse
Enjoy the Progress
Broader impacts in Chile
Local K-12 EducationLed by our Chilean offices, we have developed a local outreach program that provides thousands of Chilean K-12 students with the opportunity to learn about astronomy. In partnership with EcoScience and support from the US Embassy in Chile and the Chilean Minister of Science, our observatory field trip programs and Mobile Astronomy Lab travel around Chile to bring science education to remote and underserved communities. The unique traveling lab includes an inflatable planetarium and portable telescopes for an inspiring hands-on experience.
Inclusive EducationAstronomy can be considered a visual science. To bring the world of astronomy closer to visually-challenged individuals and their communities in Chile, we partnered with Planetario de Medellín (Colombia). Together, we replicated the “Universe With All Senses” backpack, a set of tactile scale models of our solar system, along with stars and other interesting celestial objects. This accessible material, already available for local production in Chile, inspired the creation of the Inclusive Astronomy Handbook for Teachers, developed by the Giant Magellan Telescope and the educational innovation consultant AP21 and supported by prominent astronomical institutions in Chile committed to a more inclusive astronomy outreach and education. The Handbook is an innovative and free online resource for teachers to use astronomy as a vehicle for diversity, inclusion, and quality science education.
Government RelationsWe operate in Chile under a cooperative agreement with the University of Chile. The government of Chile has recognized this agreement through a presidential decree recorded by the foreign ministry.
We frequently meet with various official agencies in Chile to coordinate actions regarding light and air pollution. We are members of the Fundación Cielos Oscuros (FCC) board, and we collaborate with the Sociedad Chilena de Astronomía (SOCHIAS), the Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (ANID), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente (MMA).
University ResearchThe Giant Magellan Telescope has a research agreement with the University of Chile to grant 10% of the observing time to astronomers working at Chilean institutions. We also sponsor academic research activities and actively participate in university committees.
Local EconomyThe construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope creates hundreds of local jobs and drives scientific advancement at Chilean universities.
Dark Skies PreservationPreserving the amazing skies of Chile (not only in clarity, lack of clouds, and stability but also in darkness) is essential to keep Chile the best astronomical location in the world. The Giant Magellan Telescope is a founding member of the Fundación Cielos de Chile (FCC), an organization dedicated to protecting the dark skies of Northern Chile. We are also long-time supporters and collaborators with the Oficina de Protección de los Cielos de Chile (OPCC), now restructured to be the technical branch of the FCC. Together with government officials, the FCC and the OPCC work to establish periodic improvements to the Norma Lumínica, the regulatory body for public and other open spaces illumination, and the astronomy-friendly fixtures in terms of the amount of illumination as well as spectral characteristics. The new Norma contemplates areas of stringent restrictions in the nearby surroundings of astronomical observatories.