I am fascinated by deserts, but the Atacama desert in Chile was not on my radar when I first thought about travel in South America. My niece Kaylan suggested we check out the star gazing opportunities on that high Andean desert, famous for the dry air and clear night skies. Also, home to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), currently the largest radio telescope in the world. This observatory of the “Dark Universe” was created with collaboration between Europe (ESO), North America (NRAO) and East Asia (NAOJ), as well as the Republic of Chile. We were not able to visit this facility, but we did spend time with astronomers and were able to get close up to the night skies with a guided tour using high powered telescopes.
Another amazing tour took us to the Chaxa Lagoon in the Atacama Salt Flat where we observed native flamingoes feeding on krill in the super saturated salt lagoon.
Moon Valley – aptly named, arid, stark and beautiful