ALMA exhibit receives record number of participants

24 February, 2016

“ALMA: in search of our cosmic origins” exceeded all expectations, attracting over 35 thousand visitors to the exhibit at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Santiago.

#ExpoALMA activities in two minutes. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

In the 116 days that it was open, 35,615 people visited Espacio Fundación Telefónica to see the 60 images that made up the exhibit, distributed in 4 thematic groups. ALMA Kids, project origins and technology, discoveries and Ethnoastronomy.

In addition to content about the most powerful astronomic observatory in the world, the organization held a series of activities open to the public, as well as educational workshops for students and professors.

The activities in greatest demand were the astronomic observations from the heliport of the Telefónica Tower, held on November 21 and December 26, 2015. Almost 300 people guided by ALMA astronomers and volunteers were able to observe the stars through the telescopes installed especially for the occasion on the roof of one of the tallest towers in Santiago, where they also had a full view of the beautiful Santiago skyline at sunset.

The general public also participated in talks held with astronomers, round tables on subjects related to astronomy, astrophotography workshops and others.

A press conference was also organized by the ALMA observatory in conjunction with the Astronomy Nucleus of Universidad Diego Portales where an important discovery was revealed about the galaxy known as W2246-0526, the most luminous galaxy in the Universe.

15 de Enero 2016/SANTIAGO Astronomos chilenos usan ALMA para observar la turbulenta actividad de la galaxia mas luminosa del Universo. FOTO: MARTIN THOMAS/AGENCIAUNO

Press conference held during the exhibition #ExpoALMA in cooperation with Diego Portales University (Santiago, Chile). Credit: Agencia Uno

As part of the Midnight Museum, on October 23, 2015, the Espacio Fundación Telefónica and ALMA invited Bartok Ensemble to perform a special concert during the evening ceremony, where the general public was able to visit the exhibit until late into the night.

In total, over 2,000 people participated in the 10 activities organized by the ALMA team.

The educational content of the exhibit was also one of its strong points, which was clear from the participation of students and educators. A total of 2,109 people participated in different educational activities, including talks and workshops on programming, robotics and technology, among others.

The closing weekend included guided tours with astronomers Laura Gómez and Mónica Rubio, who explained the most important concepts related to ALMA operation and discoveries to an enthusiastic and lively audience, who participated actively in both sessions.

For Pierre Cox, ALMA director, “the exhibit was a huge success and shows evidence of the community interest in ALMA. It was a very clear and attractive, interactive exhibit, not only for adults but also for children and families in general. The location in downtown Santiago was key, as well as the support from Fundación Telefónica. The exhibit must continue in other cities!”

For Patricia Hasbún, coordinator for Espacio Fundación Telefónica, the most important aspect of the exhibit was to bring the general public closer to a subject that is seemingly very complicated, astronomy, revealing that it is a science that fascinates all types of people, regardless of age or social status. “Seeing entire families come together to a talk or an observation in the Telefónica heliport was very gratifying. This makes everything we are doing worthwhile.”

Trailer of the ALMA Exhibition featured at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Santiago, Chile. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

This round table presented the challenges and opportunities arising in the largest observatorties in terms of operations, technology and issues in its activities in the areas of software engineering and electrical and electronics engineering applied to instrumentation. It also provided a forum for discussing opportunities for innovation and technology transfer to other areas of the industry. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

The CEO of Fundación Imagen de Chile, Myriam Gómez, the director of the Astrotourism Chile project, Pablo Álvarez, and the science writer responsible for Astroblog, Ricardo García, spoke about the potentials of Chile as a global astronomical destination. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Round table: Is there a connection between art and astronomy?. A swing in La SIlla Observatory, a giant ball rolls between the ALMA antennas… 3 artists exhibited their art and visions on the potential for creative connection between art and astronomy. Guest speakers: Dagmara Wyskiel, Enrique Rivera and María Ignacia Edwards. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Within the exhibition “ALMA, explorando nuestros orígenes cósmicos” in the Fundación Telefónica there were workshops and other Education oriented activities with teachers, students and schools. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Amateur astrophotographers who work at ALMA team up with a Chilean expert to give a theoretical and practical workshop on photography for celestial bodies from the 31st floor of the Telefónica building. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)