October 16, 2019
Latest News
Science & Technology

Chile celebrates 50 years of star gazing at La Silla Observatory

Cerro La Silla, Chile, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- The La Silla Observatory, located in northern Chile, is celebrating 50 years of providing a window to the Universe for astronomers, who liken gazing at the stars to time travel.

The observatory, which sits at an altitude of 2,400 meters (7,868 feet) above sea level, offers astronomers clear views of the night sky, allowing them to view stars whose light has been traveling, in some cases, for thousands of years.

La Silla, located in the northern region of Coquimbo, is currently hosting researchers from more than 15 countries.

Astronomers travel to the remote spot to take advantage of some of the clearest views of the night sky in the world.

In the next few years, Chile is expected to provide 70 percent of the infrared astronomical capacity in the world, thanks to the construction of three state-of-the-art telescopes that will be located in the northern part of the South American country.

The new telescopes will include a 39-meter-diameter telescope, the largest insturment of its type in the world.

Luis Agustin Chavarria, director of the astronomy program of the National Scientific and Technological Research Commission (CONICYT), told EFE that La Silla was an extremely flexible facility that could adopt new technology for telescopes that were more than 40 years old.

"Thanks to these devices, the center remains a leader in the search for planets similar in size to the Earth in space. A task that led to the discovery of perhaps the first planet with these characteristics in a habitable zone," Chavarria said.

The discovery was made with Harps, an instrument mounted on a 3.6-meter telescope as part of a project carried out by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), a research organization created by the European Union.

Sixteen European countries created the ESO, using the organization to conduct some of their most ambitious astronomical research projects in Chile.

A site for an observatory was selected in Coquimbo, a region known for having nearly pristine views of the night sky, a fact known to pre-Columbian societies, including the Diaguitas, who settled in the area and were avid star gazers.

The quest for greater knowledge of the cosmos would take a great leap forward with the invention of the telescope by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who said the instrument helped one attain "truth based on observation."

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an English statesman, natural philosopher and the father of empiricism, built on the work done by Galileo and concluded that he did not believe anything he could not see with his own eyes.

Astronomers today continue to scan the heavens, trying to learn more about the stars and gaining knowledge that people in earlier times could not even dream about.

The Cerro Pachon Observatory, thanks to the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, will have the capacity to completely map the Southern Hemisphere sky every three days, a project that will allow astronomers to detect supernovas, asteroids and comets almost in real time.

The project should begin yielding results in 2022, officials said.

Researchers from around the world, meanwhile, will continue to work each night in the region, observing the sky that crowns the Earth.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), a Cornell University professor and prodigious author, said in "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space" (1994) that astronomy was "a humbling and character-building experience," showing humans that they were not the center of the Universe, a place whose rules are for the most part unknown to us.

Looking at the photographs of the Earth sent back by Voyager 1 just before it left the Solar System in 1990, Sagan reflected on our home in space.

""Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering," Sagan wrote in "Pale Blue Dot."

Sagan, a Pulitzer Prize winner who also wrote the best seller "Cosmos" (1980), weighed the smallness of the Earth in the Universe.

"Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves," Sagan wrote.

News history
New study reveals giant size of extinct marsupials that once roamed Australia

Washington, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- Paleontologists have found that a species belonging to an extinct genus of marsupial that roamed Australia some 25 million...

Disney CEO leaves Apple's board of directors ahead of streaming services war

San Francisco, USA, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- The chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company has resigned from Apple's board of directors – of which he had been a...

Bacteria in cash, pizza as medicine and other crazy experiments win Ig Nobels

Washington DC, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- The number of deadly bacteria lurking in cash or the medicinal properties of pizza are some of the unusual experiments...

Russian scientists patent system to collect space debris

Moscow, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Student Russian scientists have patented a system of devices to remove space garbage from the Earth's orbit.

Remakes of iconic games steal limelight at Tokyo Game Show

By María Roldán

Bringing children in Peru up to speed with the internet

By Álvaro Mellizo

Water vapor detected in potentially habitable exoplanet's atmosphere

London, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- Scientists for the first time have detected water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet of a size comparable to Earth, making...

Pioneering technology uses plants and microorganisms to produce electricity

By Mercedes Palomino

Science Museum explores how London became global hub for innovation

By Laura Sanfélix

Two viable embryos developed from northern white rhinos

Nairobi, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- Scientists working to save the northern white rhinos from extinction announced Wednesday that two eggs fertilized 10 days ago...

Indian space agency loses contact with lunar lander

New Delhi, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- India's space agency said Saturday that ground controllers lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft's Vikram lander...

Countdown begins for India's moon mission to touch down at lunar South Pole

New Delhi, Sep 6 (efe-epa).- The countdown began on Friday for Chandrayaan-2 to land a rover on the Moon, India’s most ambitious space program to look for...

Yamnaya steppe tribe that invaded Iberia advanced as far as India

By Elena Camacho

Baby hippopotamus is latest resident at Nicaragua zoo

Managua, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- A baby hippopotamus, the only member of the species in Nicaragua and which was rescued from a circus, starting Thursday is the...

Austrian technology art festival looks at AI's future impact on humanity

By Luis Lidon

Mexican region gets first desalination plant for ag use in the Americas

By Juan Carlos Machorro

Iran denies burning of its satellite Nahid-1

Tehran, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- Iran has denied the failure of the launch of a communication satellite on Saturday as alleged by the United States.

Soyuz MS-15’s crew undergoes tests ahead of flight to ISS

Moscow, Aug 30 (efe-epa).- The crew members of the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft on Friday concluded the second day of tests before heading to International Space...

SpaceX Dragon capsule returns to Earth with NASA materials

Washington, Aug 27 (efe-epa).- The SpaceX CRS-108 Dragon space capsule returned safely to Earth on Tuesday loaded with assorted NASA materials, plunging...

Square marks boundary between haves, have-nots in Chile's capital

By Alberto Valdes Gomez

Russia's Soyuz capsule with Fedor robot on board docks at ISS on 2nd attempt

Moscow, Aug 27 (efe-epa).- The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft, with the Russian Fedor robot as its only crew member, docked Tuesday at the International Space...

Dinosaur paleontology under threat in Argentina

By Pablo Ramón Ochoa

Soyuz carrying robot to attempt dock on ISS after failed attempt

Moscow, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- The Russian Soyuz MS-14 ship carrying android FEDOR as its sole crew member will try to dock on the International Space Station...

The tech hub that flourished against all odds in Gaza

By Laura Fernández Palomo

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.