Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Leaving Santiago and flying close to the eclipse viewing site near La Serena, Chile

Greetings from Palmia Observatory
Well this is  another travel day as we fly to La Serena, which is close to our eclipse viewing site.
Today we fly from Santiago to La Serena.  On the map below you can see La Serena just north of Santiago.  The map also shows our future flight locations.
 After the eclipse on July 2 we fly back south to Santiago and then rebound and fly north again to Calama and our tour of the Atacama desert.
Map of Chile showing our astronomy tour locations in Santiago, La Serena and Calama

As the plane left Santiago and turned to fly norrhward, we saw this beautiful view of the Andes.  For the rest of the flight on the left side of the plane we only saw the coastal mountain range.  Yep, looking at the snow capped peaks reminds us that it is indeed winter in July here in the Southern Hemisphere.

When we landed in La Serena we had to walk off the plane directly on the tarmac from our charter flight.  Our astronomy tour group had the whole plane to ourselves.  This little airport will be super busy as more and more flight bring observers to La Serena.  In the photo below, we see Resident Astronomer Peggy making her way toward the terminal.
Walking directly off the plane at La Serena airport

In case you are wondering what the currency looks like in Chile, check out this photo of a 5000 peso note.  The exchange rate is such that this note is equal to about $7.5 US dollars.  The note has an anti counterfeiting feature which includes a transparent secition.  The second little image of Chilean poet and Nobel prize winner, Gabriela Mistral, is printed on a section of the note that is transparent.  So, even though most of the time we can just use credit cards, having some currency for tips and incidentals works out just great.
5000 peso Chilean note with Gabriela Mistral image in transparent section

Well as we have reported in previous blog posts about the cloudy, very cloudy weather in Santiago, it was great to see some blue sky.  Check out this late afternoon image, taken just a few minutes past sunset along the beach in La Serena.  This was the first day of our travels when we were able to see the sun and not just the clouds.  Hmm, yeah there are a few clouds right where the sun went down, but at least we could see the sun on the way to the beach. We understand that at our actual eclipse viewing site in La Higurera, which is about an hour drive north of La Serena, that the weather is supposed to be even more cloud free.  Time will tell!

Then at 6:14 local time, as we were wondering around on the beach,  we caught our first glimpse of a couple of bright points of light in in the sky.  It looked like Jupiter, so I snapped this picture with my IPhone.  Hey, there are actually two bright dots of light in the photo!  On closer examination of the photo we can see that the bottom light is brighter and appears to be more from an extended object, like a planet, and not like a point of light, like a star.
Palmia Observatory Resident Astronomers first two object (Jupiter and Antares) seen in the Southern Hemisphere

We can try to use our Sky Safari Pro app and see if we can identify what these objects are.  The Sky Safari Pro screenshot for the night sky at the same time as the IPhone photo and for the location in La Serena is shown below. We see that the upper dot of light is probably the star Antares and the lower dot of light is probably Jupiter.  So, these two objects are the first two astronomical objects that we have seen here in the Southern Hemisphere in Chile.
Sky Safari Pro screenshot showing location of Jupiter as seen in La Serena, Chile

In our next post we will report on our additional travels which included a pre-eclipse visit to our eclipse viewing site in La Higuera and then the next post will cover the exciting details of the hunt for the total solar eclipse on July 2.

Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George

If you like things astronomical or Cosmological, then check out other posts at: www.palmiaobservatory.com

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