The view through the eyepiece of the telescope is breathtaking. Like tiny diamonds on black velvet, countless sparkling stars float against a fathomless backdrop of empty space. “This is Omega Centauri,” says astronomer Alain Maury, who runs a popular tourist observatory just south of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile.
“To the naked eye, it looks like a fuzzy star, but the telescope reveals its true nature: a huge, globular cluster of hundreds of thousands of stars, almost 16,000 light-years away.” I could take in this mesmerizing view for hours, but Maury’s other telescopes are trained at yet more cosmic wonders.
There’s just too much to see.
Chile is an astronomer’s paradise.
The country is justly famous for its lush valleys and snowcapped volcanoes, but its most striking scenery may be overhead. It is home to some of the finest places on Earth to enjoy the beauty of the starry sky.
If there’s one country in the world that really deserves stellar status, it’s Chile.
If you live in a city, as I do, you probably don’t notice the night sky at all. Yes, the moon is visible at times, and maybe you can see a bright planet like Venus every now and then, but that’s about it.
Most people are hard-pressed to recognize even the most familiar constellations, and they’ve never seen the Milky Way.