|About Cerro Tololo|
|What to do to visit?|
|What is it shown?|
|What do we recommend?|
|Notice to visitors|
The Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory is a scientific compound of telescopes and instruments dedicated to professional astronomical observation located approximately 80 km east of the city of La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2,200 meters.
The development of the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory began in 1963 after an extensive search of three years, in order to select an appropriate place in the southern hemisphere to observe the heavens never visible from the north.
The Observatory's main offices are in the city of La Serena, about 480 kilometers north of Santiago de Chile. Observation instruments are located 70 kilometers northeast, west of the Andes.
The site of observations (whose name was taken from the mountain where it is located and which in Aymara means "At the Edge of the Abyss") is south of the Atacama Desert. There, the climate is moderated by cold air currents coming from southwest Pacific Ocean and the Humboldt Current that travels north from the Southern Ocean along the coast of Chile. A sky unaffected by city lights, a transparent atmosphere, the proximity of the desert the cold layers of ocean air moving without appreciable turbulence to Los Andes, combine to create one of the best places in the world for astronomical observations.
The Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory has telescopes, specialized instruments and other facilities for the most advanced astronomical research that are possible from the earth's surface. The instruments and facilities of the Observatory are operated and shared by astronomers in both hemispheres. Each year more than 100 visiting scientists and students from 50 or more institutions travel to Cerro Tololo to conduct research programs. Bedrooms, library, offices, kitchens and dining areas are kept near the summit of Cerro Tololo for the official visitors and plant personnel.
The main office is located in La Serena and consists of administrative departments, computer centers, electronic, tools and vehicles workshops, a library, houses and apartments for staff and official visitors.
With 320 square kilometers of land surrounding the observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), under the cooperation of the National Science Foundation United States, as part of National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) organization that also operates the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona and is the agency that operates the U.S. portion of the International Gemini Project.
The Centre opens its doors to the public every Saturday of the year at two times: 09:00 and 13:00 hrs. Reservations must be made to the phone: 56-51-2205200 or by email well in advance - at least one month - especially during the summer months and are subject to cancellation due to weather or maintenance work on the premises. It should be noted that because of our limited physical capacity of attention, we have established 40 visitors on each schedule and 7 persons per vehicle as a maximum, so that we can give the opportunity to visit a greater number of families. Delegations composed of a greater number should send a fax to 56-51-2205212 with the possible dates of the visit (always Saturday), the exact amount of people and the specific reasons for the request. The answer is subject to the discretion of the Director of the Centre. Once booked, the visitor(s) must be confirmed during the week preceding the corresponding Saturday and have until Friday at 12:00 hrs (noon) to pick up the permission from the Reception desk in the AURA main office in La Serena. (See map)
At the time of picking up the permission you must provide an identification document of the person who booked and vehicle registration number to be used in the visit. Not confirmed reservations in the days and times listed are automatically canceled. The entrance to the Observatory is free but does not provide transportation to visitors and will be your responsibility to obtain a suitable vehicle to cover the round trip. Under no circumstances travel agencies or other private organizations have the right to charge for access to our facilities, but is within the discretion of the visitors choose the type of transport used: owned or rented vehicle, or taxi. Under no circumstances it will be allowed visits to the Observatory site on motorcycles, bicycles, walking or hitchhiking.
The visits should reach to the Observatory entrance - one hour from La Serena by Route 41 that leads to the Elqui Valley, at 9:00 or 13:00 hrs. as appropriate. There the permission and proper identification must be presented, to start the ascent of Cerro Tololo. The tour starts at the top of the mountain at 10:00 or 14:00 hrs. and the descent at 12:00 or 16:00 hrs. respectively. The visit in the summit lasts approximately two hours. You should consider that the trip La Serena-Cerro Tololo summit takes around 2 hours.
The visit is a tour of the facilities of the Obervatory, conducted by guides, that shows and explains the operation of one or two telescopes depending on the engineering work being undertaken, and a basic astronomy lecture supported with images of galaxies, supernovas and other universe phenomena. We have a "Visitor Center" which displays models of the instruments visited and space photographs taken by the giant telescopes in the Observatory. In addition, the Service Workers Aura Inc. will offer for sale "souvenirs" such as posters, postcards, keychains, t-shirts, banners and ceramic objects alluding to the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory and astronomy.
The Observatory does not take any responsibility for accidents or damage caused to visitors within the precinct. By accepting the permission, its holder states that frees the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, from any responsibility for accidents, damages or losses that may occur to him/her and/or companions, personal effects and vehicles, including those produced by the permanence in height, renouncing any legal or other action that may arise from such situations.
The driver of the vehicle must drive with extreme caution, respecting the existing signage, as there are slopes, sharp turns in the road, which is ground and slippery.