I came accross a news article today that reminded me how much great science happens in Chile — and not just volcanology. I’m talking about the great astronomical data that comes from northern Chile’s many observatories. Thanks to the extreme altitude of the Altiplano, Chile’s northern half has exceptionally clear skies that allow for some very precise astronomical imaging of some very, very faint objects.
Astronomers at Arizona State University have just imaged an “exceptionally distant galaxy, ranked among the top 10 most distant objects currently known in space.” The galaxy in question, LAEJ095950.99+021219.1, is about 800 million light years away from us.
Chile’s clear skies are great for volcanological research, too! The lack of pollution or haze of any kind means that our remote sensing instruments (spectrometer scanners, cameras, and sun photometers), which look through lots of the atmosphere, gather very robust data with little noise.
More than just the science, though, Chile’s clear skies offer a simply stunning vista. Here are a few of my favorite images taken on The Volcanofiles’s 2012 Chile Expedition showing off the sky at sunset and the stars at night.