Fotoeins Fotografie

a question of home

Posts tagged ‘Atacama’

Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, Cerro Tololo, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Andes in winter, a June day in Chile

23 June 2007.

A few days past the June winter solstice, the view to the Andes is illuminated by the afternoon sun to the northwest. It’s almost one year since I’ve moved to Chile to work at the Gemini South astronomical observatory, and part of my job includes shifts observing at the telescope for a duration between two and six nights at a stretch. For the time being, we’re sleeping in the dormitories at the neighbouring Cerro Tololo Observatory, and driving to and from Cerro Pachón where Gemini South resides. With less oxygen at altitude between 2500 and 2800 metres, it can be a little rough to sleep and work, but the views are always worth the temporary discomfort.

More about my past life

•   What it was like to be “up top”
•   What it meant to leave, both astronomy and Chile
•   My past research


I made the above photo 10 years ago today on 23 June 2007. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9To.

ANF airport, Aeropuerto Nacional Cerro Moreno, Region de Antofagasta, Atacama desert, Desierto de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Into the Atacama from ANF

We left the last traces of green behind in La Serena. After the 90-minute flight from LSC to ANF Antofagasta airport, it’s abundantly clear anything green has a tough-tough-go, and has to hold on to every hint of moisture. Here in the Atacama desert, shades of dust scatter across the barren landscape, switching quickly from plain brown to copper, from rust to sienna. Our vehicle turns gently south onto Ruta-1, towards the city of Antofagasta. Through traffic, we wind our way through the city, eventually onto the Ruta-28 spur, and beyond to the Panamerican Highway, which in Chile is known as “la ruta cinco” (Ruta-5).

ANF airport, Atacama desert, Region de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Leaving ANF airport.

Ruta 1, Atacama desert, Region de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Ruta 1, approaching Antofagasta from the north.

Ruta 1, Antofagasta, Region de Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Ruta 1, heading south through Antofagasta.

Ruta 5, Carretera Panamericana, Region de Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Antofagasta behind us, south on Ruta 5 (Carretera Panamericana), Región de Antofagasta.

I made the above photos on 24 November 2009 with the Canon 450D camera, EF 70-300 zoom-lens, and the following settings: f/11, ISO200, and 70-140mm focal lengths (112-224mm full-frame). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6SU.

Chilean Andes, Cerro Tololo, Cerro Pach贸n, astronomical observatories, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Chile from 10000 feet, summer light on the Andes

20 February 2006.

With the light of the setting summer sun striking the foothills and the mountains in the Chilean Andes, this was the view east outside the plane from about 10000 feet (3000 metres) prior to approach and descent to LSC La Serena airport. This place was already familiar: I’d been coming here for astronomy research semi-regularly over the last ten years (since 1995), and it’s where I would live for the next five years (to 2011). It’s a fascinating individual experience to internalize the day-to-day surroundings which eventually become routine over a period of weeks, months, and years. On occasion, I still have difficulty grasping my own history.

At a latitude of 30 degrees south, the area shown here is near the southern limit of the Atacama desert in Región de Coquimbo. A group of white domes (telescopes) is clustered at the summit of Cerro Tololo (centre-left); the domes for the SOAR Telescope and Gemini South sit along the ridge of Cerro Pachón (centre-right). The mail-drop or “buzón” for the observatories is at the bottom of the ridge where the unpaved graded dirt road splits to Tololo and Pachón. To the east in the background are the north-south spine or ‘cord’ (Cordillera) marked by the Andes mountain range, and towering thunderstorms looming over the Argentina-Chile border. Directions to the nearest cities are marked: Vicuña (north), La Serena (northwest), Andacollo (west), and Ovalle (southwest).

I made the photo above with a Canon Powershot A510 camera on-board the LAN 1-hour flight from Santiago to La Serena. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6Rq.

Southern Atacama desert, between Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Standing on the tall shoulders of the Chilean Andes

It’s a long road to a latitude of 30 degrees South to stand at an elevation of 9000 feet up on the mountainous spine of South America.

Over a period of 11 years, I visited telescopes in Chile to collect research data, before I moved to Chile to live and work there for 5 years. This is a brief look at the journey an astronomer makes to telescopes in Chile.

( Click here for images and more )

Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, CTIO, Cerro Tololo, Regi贸n de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Chilean morning send-off: under the Andes with Atacama minions

Cerro Tololo, Región de Coquimbo, Chile: late-2011.

The morning creeps gently forward, up and over the desert sky. Sounds? What sounds? What scarce sounds there are, they pierce the silence with soft whistles and drawn-out wails. Alternating light and dark horizontal streamers, known also as “the rays of God,” mark the first light of dawn. Small clumps break loose, as the overnight shroud of valley fog pulls back slowly from view.

The sun climbs higher, the shadows grow shorter, the cotton patch dissolves. It isn’t long until a spectacular sight is revealed. This is what you get from a height of 7500 feet above sea level.

Dry river beds twist and sweep and stretch along canyon floors. Cactus and desert scrub carpets the surrounding hills in faded greens and dusty browns. To the east rise jagged rocky teeth capped with white frosting, fixing the location of the Andes along the Chilean spine.

In this desolate and isolated part of the world, I’ve often wondered about the few brave souls who make this place their home. They’re prospectors, miners, even some farmers, all of whom carry their burden for financial endeavour. People have been digging around in these parts for centuries, whether it’s plant, mineral, or some kind of monetary paydirt.

But there’s another human enterprise with different rewards, a quest that asks questions on a much larger scale.

How do planets take shape?
How do stars form?
How are galaxies assembled?
Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

These issues occupy astronomers from all over the world. Many astronomers go up onto mountains, just like this one, onto the summit of Cerro Tololo, peering into the skies. The telescopes point straight up, reaching out like outstretched hands, wanting more.

( Click here for images and more )

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