Stary eyed

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

  Inca Trail all over we had to hot foot down into Chilie to catch our flight to New Zealand on 10th September.  A 16 hour bus, 24 hour bus and then a 6 hour bus to get there, but not without stopping at La Serena first to visit an Observatory.  With not much time to spare we checked in a hostel then headed out to gather information on all the observatories, there are quite a few on offer  as La Serena  has the  clearest  skies on offer.  When we were in the tourist information office there was another couple there who were considering visiting Mamalluca Observatory, so within 20 minutes we all agreed to split the cost of a hire car and all go together, it's so funny how quickly you make friends when you’re on the road.  We all met up later on that night and drove up to Vicuna (1100 meters high) which was an hour away.  We were a little worried as there were clouds in the sky all afternoon but as we drove up they cleared up nicely to my excitement.   We watched a presentation where the guide showed us the history of the telescope, explained the star signs and the size of all the planets, then we headed up to the main observation deck where we were showed how the telescope worked it was 30cm in diameter, so it’s not a big one compared to modern day telescopes however the view it gave us was amazing of Jupiter. There was a bright orange star in the sky too, and it was orange because it's a dying star, the light it gives off takes 9 months to reach us so it has probably burned out already, but we wont see it disappear until 9 months after.  It is programmed into all the stars and planets so the guide simply input the planet in the remote control and it moved to the exact spot to view.  Jupiter normally has 3 grey lines running through it but only has one so she explained the astronomers were baffled as to why this is, and they are looking into why, it has only changed a few months ago.  We were shown all the constellations  from the telescope outside and were shown how to spot a galaxy too.  It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve done and would love to visit another observation with a larger telescope in the future or even buy one!
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