Wednesday 25 October 2023

Star gazing in the dessert

San Pedro de Atacama is a brilliant place to go star gazing, as it is a desert which means it has few surrounding obstacles to interfere with the view of the telescopes and, of course, it is incredibly dry making the atmosphere much clearer! So this is what we did! When we arrived in San Pedro, we went on a star gazing tour to enjoy the star-filled night sky! The tour company we used had 5 telescopes, all small and manually set up, yet wonderfully accurate and all done with perfect care and enjoyment. We spent time looking through each telescope and enjoyed the sight of just one white dot in the sky turning into million of clear and bright stars when we looked through the telescopes. My favourites were Jupiter and Saturn and Ioanna's was one called Toucan 47!

But, we didn't just see the stars and planets. We also had photos taken with them and, although the models (us) weren't the best (especially Dan with his silly John Travolta moves), the photographs came out nice, and somehow enhanced, so that the Milky Way was shown clearer behind us. 

We also took photos of the moon through the telescopes which I think look amazing. Don't you think?

At the end of the evening, we sat down around a model of the galaxy made of rocks and candles, and had a hot chocolate, while they told us some facts about our galaxy:

  1. An other galaxy called Andromeda will crash into ours. But that will probably happen in a couple of thousand years so nothing to worry about. 
  2. You know there is a constellation called Scorpion? Well, one of the stars in it (what the astronomers call its "heart") is exploding. Again, no need to panic. I asked and apparently that won't happen in the next...100 years at least.
  3. Did you know that two arms of our galaxy, Orion and Sagittarius, can be seen from Earth?
  4. Also, the stars are of 3 main colours: white, red and blue (the blue stars are the hottest and so create some of the heavier elements!). Our guide made a joke about the stars being Chileans (because of the colours in the Chilean flag) but those are also the colours in the English flag as Dan was quick to point out :))
All in all, it was a great night but I was glad to be back home and get to my bed at nearly midnight!

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