22 March, 2017
Astronomy outreach activities recommenced in March with the start of the school year and drew quite a crowd. The first Saturday of the month was the 9th Great Night of Stars in the Santiago Metropolitan Park, where a record number of participants came out to the Pablo Neruda Lookout. The director of ALMA, meanwhile in the United States, gave a presentation on the observatory’s latest advances to hundreds of people at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Large-scale activities in March culminated with the Chile Astronomy Day, celebrated on Friday, March 17, when ALMA and ESO once again opened the doors of their Santiago offices with activities for the whole family.
1,400 people came out the first weekend in March to look at the stars and learn about astronomy while observing the Chilean capital at night from high above on San Cristóbal hill. As part of the one hundred year anniversary of the Santiago Metropolitan Park, ALMA astronomer Liza Videla and communicator Ricardo García talked to the audience about astronomy, ALMA and the role of women in science just days after the commemoration of International Women’s Day. The day came to a close with an astronomical observation of the sky with telescopes, where participants were able to gaze at the Moon, Venus, the Orion Nebula and Jupiter through telescopes installed by Astro[vlog] and ALMA at the top of the lookout point.
On March 7, while in Washington D.C., the director of ALMA gave a presentation on the observatory to the Carnegie Institution for Science. “We are now truly able to study the early Universe and understand how galaxies formed, when the Universe was very, very, very young,” explained Pierre Cox in an amphitheater, where he shared his knowledge and the latest findings from ALMA with hundreds of participants, as well with others who connected via video conference (you can view the video here).
Rockets, meteorites, and comets
We said farewell to summer in the southern hemisphere with Chile Astronomy Day celebrations on Friday, March 17. For the third year in a row, ALMA and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) opened the doors to their offices in Santiago to students from schools in Vitacura and Colina. The activities attracted close to 200 students in the morning, followed by over 200 neighbors and the general public, who arrived in the afternoon to learn and enjoy activities prepared by volunteers from both institutes. Participants launched pressurized air and water-powered rockets, built comets, simulated lunar craters, observed the Sun, learned about the Solar System, connected via video conference with the Paranal Observatory and ALMA and participated in talks on radio astronomy.
The day ended with observations of the city’s night sky with telescopes installed by ALMA and other institutes on the terrace of the Chile Planetarium.
ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of South Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.