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Lately, at the Observatorio del Pangue...

First, you arrive at Santiago de Chile...

...then you want to travel North and meet our clear skies !

Photos: (1)Eric Escalera (2)Jean Pichon / Observatorio del Pangue

In this column we display some of the most relevant news, pictures, or feelings happening around the observatory.

For a complete information on the place and the proposed programmes, you can visit our "facts" pages, listed at the top of the blog.

...and lastly, as to check if we really are as famous as the below picture suggests, don't hesitate to visit us, we'd be glad indeed to receive you...

One small step for a man...

Few people know that the space odyssey began in Paris (France) : in the morning of November, 21st, 1783, took place the first manned flight, using the recently invented montgolfiere (hot air balloon), making its pilot and only passenger Jean François Pilatre de Rozier the first person to see the world from an airship.

The place was the gardens of a castle (Chateau de La Muette). Today, the castle disappeared, but the exact location is still marked by a modest and rather neglected stele : I was recently able to find it, in an abandoned field stuck between a series of highways…

By coincidence, at this particular moment, the crescent Moon was standing right over it, as if to strengthen the symbolism : actually the flight from Pilatre de Rozier was the very first step of a long human journey that eventually ended up with the landing on the Moon, in July 1969…
Photos: Eric Escalera - August 13th, 2021.

One Moon, Two Towers...

Paris is not an ideal place for taking pictures of the heavens, except maybe when the Full Moon approaches the Eiffel Tower... However, the greatest achievement I felt when taking this picture was to have been able to travel to France, despite the pandemic crisis, the close of frontiers (both Chile and the EU), the successive tests required, and the many uncertainties until the last minute ! Let's hope we'll all get out of this very soon...

A few minutes later, the full Moon was perfectly centered on the Eiffel Tower, to the delight of a not so large crowd...
Photos: Eric Escalera - June 24th, 2021.
The dark tower visible to the left is the "Tour Montparnasse", the only skyscraper in Paris

Astrophotography at Pangue :
a perfect galaxy

NGC4565 (Com) is not only a fine example of an edge-on galaxy, it is a stunning sight in large telescopes, spanning for some 15 arcmin. through the eyepiece, that is half of the apparent size of the Moon !...

Photo: Cristian Valenzuela / Observatorio del Pangue - April, 2021
Canon 60D at prime focus of SCT Meade 403mm, total exposures: 42 minutes;
North is up

March, 5th, 2021 : First Pass of Apophis...

...and certainly not the last ! Some asteroids deserve special attention, and this one is among the top of the list, not because of its characteristics (merely 350 meters across), but because of its orbit, that brings it close to Earth, too often, and maybe too close...
On the evening of March, 5th, Apophis cruised off our planet, at a respectable distance of over 16,000,000 km (some 10 million miles), that made a good opportunity to watch it, safely ! The apparent magnitude of 15.5 was bright enough to allow us to see it visually through our telescopes and, why not, to capture its relatively fast motion among the star field (apparent motion was estimated at 3.5 arcsec. per minute) in the constellation of Hydra.
We took a series of pictures at intervals of 2 minutes only, and still they clearly show a tiny dot shifting from one to another : that's Apophis ! Here we display some of them, with the asteroid identifyed by the red mark: (North is up for all the views)
Click on the pictures to enlarge and watch them in a presentation mode as to see the motion effect
The picture below shows the path of the asteroid on that night (roughly from 22h00 to 03h00, local time), with the previous position circled:
And here is another series of pictures, spanning approximately an entire hour:

Apophis will make an extremely close "flyby" on April 2029, approaching at only 36,000 km from Earth centre (that is, some 30,000 km from the surface!), then again another close pass in 2038... In first instance, there was a small probability of collision for 2038, now definitely ruled out by the most accurate calculations. However, these same calculations arise a risk of collision for 2068, although we may not worry yet : the orbit of Apophis will be affected by the gravitational field of Earth during its 2029 flyby, hence the definitive trajectory cannot be established until then...

Photos: Cristian Valenzuela / Observatorio del Pangue - March, 2021.

Astrophotography at Pangue

There is much more to see in Orion than the Great Orion Nebula : here we captured the NGC1977 nebula, located 1 degree north to its great neighbor, a nice gem by itself when properly observed in detail and in good conditions...
Photos: Cristian Valenzuela / Observatorio del Pangue - January, 2021
Canon 60D at prime focus of SCT Meade 403mm reduced at f/6.4, total exposures: 40 minutes;
South is up

"Night and Day"... the frame is complete !

We used to post pictures of the Sun setting behind the dome of the CTIO (Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, our immediate neighbor), an event that happens twice every year, at the exact same dates. But on last January 15th, we've been granted with the setting of the Moon behind that same dome, and this is far more unusual as, for a given observing spot, it repeats every 10 years only... So now we got the two pieces of a unique collection !
For the record, here is again the picture of the last Sunset on Tololo, taken on the evening of 2020, November, 3rd. : same dome, same size of the disk...
So here is the frame, complete...

Photos: Cristian Valenzuela / Observatorio del Pangue