Chile // El Norte Chico //

Cerro Mamalluca observatory

Nine kilometres northeast of Vicuña, the Cerro Mamalluca observatory, built specifically for public use, is run by the Municipalidad de Vicuña and features a 30cm Smith-Cassegrain telescope donated by the Cerro Tololo team. The two-hour evening tours start with a high-tech audiovisual talk on the history of the universe, and end with the chance to look through the telescope. If you’re lucky, you might see a dazzling display of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulas and clusters, including Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy and Sirius. These tours are aimed at complete beginners, but serious astronomers can arrange in-depth, small-group sessions with at least a few weeks’ notice.