|photograph courtesy of Tim Spuck|
Welcome to ACEAP, the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of nine people to go to Chile to see the astronomy first hand, and meet the people who make it happen. In this blog I want to share that experience with you; to give you a sense of what it's like to really be part of a community dedicated to revealing the mysteries of the universe. Journey to 16,500 feet to the highest observatory in the world and the driest desert on the planet. See cutting edge technology as we measure the weight of a black hole or unwrap the mysteries of dark energy. Comment and share as yo go along and click on the CONTACT US tab if you would like more information or a program in your area.
Much thanks goes to the National Science Foundation, whose generosity has made all of this possible as they promote advancements in science, mathematics and engineering. Thanks also to the following organizations who are such an important part of the astronomical community here in the United States and in Chile. Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), and the National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO),
Links to each of these organizations are found below. So let's get started understanding United States astronomy in Chile.
WHY CHILE?From the United States we can only see half of the sky; we are missing out on a huge part of the universe that is only visible farther south. Combining observations from telescopes north and south of the equator give us a complete view of the cosmos. There are many good southern sites to choose, so why Chile? Here is the top 5 list for choosing Chile to build an observatory.
5) Technologically advanced nation with a solid infrastructure. It makes getting around that much easier!
4) Stable government that works with us through contracts and agreements.
3) Controlled development. Protecting observatories from light pollution is important to preserve these sites.
2) Geography. Stable air mass and air flow from the Pacific Ocean creates an ideal condition for stable "seeing" (little air turbulence or "twinkle, twinkle little star"). It's also geographically close to the United States compared to other suitable sites.
1) Dry and clear nights. Imagine 300 clear nights a year to observe compared to 150 in northern observatories.