June 10, 2016, Detroit Metro Airport
As I sit in on the floor in the middle of the Detroit Airport (gross, I know), my adventures in Chile seem real for the first time. Since I found out that I had been selected for the Astronomy in Chile Education Ambassadors Program (ACEAP), it has seemed a little like a dream.
The Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program (ACEAP) is a collaboration between AUI, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and Gemini Observatory, and is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF 1439408). The program brings amateur astronomers, planetarium personnel, and K-16 (formal and informal) astronomy educators to US astronomy facilities in Chile. While at these facilities, ACEAP Ambassadors will receive extensive training about the instruments, the science, data products, and communicating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts. When they return home, the Ambassadors will share their experiences and observatory resources with schools and community groups across the US.
I sat on our dock in Northern Michigan where my summer vacation began a week ago and looked at Jupiter last night. So many questions ran through my mind about this trip. Did I pack enough warm clothes? Did I bring the right camera equipment? Did I remember my toothbrush? How much will I miss my boys? But then I started to think about the reason I am going and I realized I am not even sure if I will be able to see Jupiter there. I sure don’t know many southern hemisphere constellations. Will we even be able to see any stars in Santiago? Is there too much light pollution? So many questions!
After landing in Santiago, I will spend the day trying to recover from the long night of traveling. Please join me on my adventures and ask any questions you might want to know about astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere. Adios!
June 11, 2016, Santiago, Chile
After 10 hours by plane, I have finally arrived in Santiago, Chile! Back in the days of Galileo, it would have taken the better part of a year to sail here from Miami.
There were a number of ACEAP Ambassadors flying in around the same time, so we all met at the airport and drove to the hotel together. For a full list and biographies of all the ambassadors click here.
The first remarkable thing one notices about Santiago are the mountains. They have a little snow on them because it is late fall here in the Southern Hemisphere. (Photo: M.F. Peterson, ACEAP/NSF).
It’s a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 60’s. After checking into our hotel we decided to walk around and see some of the city. The second thing I noticed were the birds. Once a biologist always a biologist, even though I am here as an astronomer. We walked down to a beautiful park and saw flamingos! Snow capped mountains and a park with flamingos, Santiago really has it all.
M.F. Peterson (ACEAP/NSF)
It is naptime for this sleepy traveler. Until next time, may your skies be clear.
— Michelle Ferrara Peterson
P.S. My itinerary looks like this:
Sunday June 11 – Travel to an observatory near Santiago for a tour. Observatorio
Astronomico Andino (http://www.oaa.cl/en)
Monday June 13 – Travel to La Serena. Presentations by 3‑4 tourist observatories, schools, etc. Tour of the electronics and machine shops. Travel to tourist observatory (Cerro Mayu Observatory On the way to the Elqui Valley)
Tuesday June 14 – Travel to AURA Recinto. Presentations by Gemini Science Staff. Travel to Cerro Pachon (site of Gemini, SOAR, LSST). Tour SOAR telescope. Travel to CTIO. Observing session with small telescope, binoculars and astrophotography.
Wednesday June 15 – Tour CTIO. Presentations by CTIO Science Staff. Observing session with small telescope, binoculars and astrophotography.
Thursday June 16 – Travel to Calama and drive to San Pedro and prepare for our presentations.
Friday June 17 – Present and visit with multiple schools in the area. Travel to ALMA. Tour ALMA OSF site. Tour and presentations by ALMA Science Staff.
Saturday June 18 – Travel to ALMA high elevation (16,500 feet) site. Tour and travel back down to ALMA OSF. Travel to and visit Reserve Nacional de Flamencos to see Pink Flamingos!
Sunday June 19 – Travel to Santiago and prepare for our presentations.
Monday June 20 – Presentations at Univsidad de Talca.
Tuesday June 21 – Relax and enjoy Santiago. Fly back to Detroit.