Vicuna Town Observatory


I wanted to take my telescope and see the Southern Hemisphere night skies. Fabulous objects are there that can never be seen from Seattle. The Magellanic clouds, 47 Tucanae, Eta Carinae……

The Internet has a ton about the Southern astronomical observatories, and within this mess of information I stumbled upon references to the little town of Vicuna. The big observatories were all in the vicinity – thousands of feet above the town on high ridges, actually – and they had donated a small community observatory to the town of Vicuna, the observatorio comunal cerro mamalluca.

It was run as a non-profit and had a web site. I arranged a visit. Turns out it was managed by this terrific group of 25 year olds who gave occasional tours to visitors in the early evening, and then spent the rest of the night using the equipment. For three nights they included me in their all-night sessions.

I still remember my amazement at the Sombrero galaxy. The light from it took 50 million years to get here.