Not many know this but northern Chile is home to the largest concentration of astronomical observatories in the world thanks to the exceptional transparency of its skies.
It comes as no surprise then that one of the most interesting trips I have ever done was a visit to an observatory two hours’ drive from La Serena, Chile.
Upon arrival on this clear cold October night, we were taken to the top of a small building where there was a massive telescope with a dome partly covered allowing us to see the night sky.
There were not many lights at all in the whole area and flash was prohibited.
Our guide was explaining to us about how stars are born which is called a nebula.
She showed us Jupiter – the brightest looking “star” which when seen through the telescope had two big red stripes across it and 4 moons close to it.
We then headed outdoors to view the sky with our naked eye where she showed us the Milky Way, the two nearby galaxies, the Scorpio constellation (which was amazing as for the first time ever I could really see the question mark looking tail) and the red giant star called Antares.
I only wish I had a better camera back then and could have taken some pictures.
She also pointed out a number of other constellations to us before we headed back indoors for a video presentation.
The part of the video I remember most was when it showed the Earth, zooming out to then show the rest of the planets that circle the Sun, then the other stars nearby and then the whole Milky Way (which already showed how small the Earth is) and then the other galaxies nearby (one galaxy has about a billion stars) and then just a zillion other galaxies and then a massive area of black matter.
Never had I felt so small in my life and started to wonder how something as small as germs exist.
We then went outside again to see more things through the telescope. The cluster of stars we saw was just extremely beautiful.
It was one of the best excursions I have ever done in my life.
Don’t miss this if you ever find yourself in northern Chile!