I've Got My Head in the Stars
Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
20Trip End Dec 13, 2011
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We decided to skip Santiago and took a bus directly to La Serena. We arrived late and had to stay in a drab hostel without English speaking hosts or toilet seats...great! Early the next morning we moved to Hostel El Punto, a great German run hostel with plenty of activities and colorful courtyards. As suggested by an old frenchman who we met in Valle Fertile, we booked a tour to Mamalluca Observatory
We set off near dusk for a mountain top maybe an hour or two outside of La Serena. Once we arrived at the observatory we had amazing unobstructed views of the skies. This part of Chile has hardly any light pollution. The night was so black that I felt like I could see every star in the sky. We started off our tour looking at galaxies and zodiac clusters through a gps controlled 30 cm diameter telescope. We learned all kinds of interesting things like the darker the color of the star the older it is. The darkest stars may have already died and exploded long ago.
Next they showed us a video of all kinds of galaxies, stars, and planets that we couldn't see with that power of telescope (the observatory we visited is primarily used for tourism, however, some of the largest telescopes in the world are located farther north in Chile and are used for science). Afterwards we went outside where our guide pointed out more constellations and stars using a high powered laser. We learned about the southern cross and how to use it as a compass. As we were finishing up our tour Jupiter rose above the mountains. We were able to see all four moons along with the two gas stripes covering the planet. Jessie and I went home wishing we were Chilean and always had access to such amazing telescopes... Lucky people!
We spent the rest of our time in La Serena walking on the beach, eating sea food, and doing a little shopping. Who would have thought that jeans in Chile are long enough for us Alaskan giants. Jessie and I always wondered why everyone in Chile had their pants rolled under.
Off for more beach time in the most Northern city in Chile.
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