Aware of the tremendous tourist potential the local skies represent, the municipal authorities of Vicuña resolved to create an astronomic observatory open for visitors. Unlike most observation centers, where visitors end up their tour feeling a little disappointed for not having access to the observation instruments, at the Vicuña observatory, tourists have the chance to stay during the night and carry out various activities with the same equipment used by researchers.
The center stands on Mount Mamalluca, after which it has been named, and it is located only 9 kilometers northeast of the city and 1,200 m.a.s.l. in a clear spot amidst the mountains, where the sky seems to dive over the senses. The observatory is open for visitors and tourists fond of observation may indulge themselves every night by using important telescopes that make them feel closer to the stars, the planets and satellites that have captivated mankind from time immemorial.
Playing between science and mysticism, we went to the Cerro Mamalluca Astronomic Observatory to enjoy this particular experience of night sky observation. A specialized guide gave an interesting explanatory lecture on the universe and we slowly understood the particular language used there. We learned about such concepts as Ecliptic, nebulas, star clusters, satellites, stars, supernovas, galaxies and the Milky Way before we passed onto the observation station.
The Mamalluca is a scientific, tourist and educational resort that has a telescope with a 12-inch (30-centimeter) diameter donated by the Cerro Tololo InterAmerican Observatory, as well as other smaller instruments we also used during the tour to make contact with the south latitude cosmos. The interaction generated between visitors and specialists is quite amusing. Suddenly, something that seems to be so far away appears before our eyes with a different shape and color. We were amazed at the brightness of the stars and the eternal darkness around it. We learnt about what one light-year represents and we chose to watch one star.
In these cases, it is ideal to attend this place on clear nights with no moon as, the darker the night, the more noticeable constellations become. Indeed, a very instructive experience indeed. You should not miss it.
Approximately two hours. The journey from Vicuña to the observatory takes about 20 minutes.
ExtrasPrint this outing
Useful DataHow to get there
Visitors should arrive in the City of Vicuña and go to the observatory office on 260 Gabriela Mistral Street, office 1, next to Bahuer Tower and a few steps from the Vicuña main square, to ask for an appointment to visit the venue.
In the summer, observation times are 8pm, 10pm and 12am and, in the winter, at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm. No visits on October 30, or December 24 and 30
If you have small children, we recommend that you do not visit the venue in their company as the explanatory lecture might turn out to be boring for them.
Gabriela Mistral 260 Of. 1
IV Región de Coquimbo