Vicuña has started a way in which the public and private world are empowered by an objective: astronomy. On January 19, 2017 has been remembered as one of the most important days for Vicuña, thanks to a mayoral decree that established the commune as the world capital of astronomy, which brings with it a series of activities and initiatives that seek to go that direction.
This is how the Vicuña has embarked on a path in which the public and private world are empowered by a common goal in which various actors who have already carried out activities such as the Star Party will participate once a month in the heritage Antakari Route. , the first contest of poetry, photography, painting and drawing with topics related to astronomy that had an excellent call.
One of the arguments of the decree is precisely the choice of Vicuña as the ideal place for the installation of astronomical observatories. “Since the 1960s it has been the site of several observatories, notably the Cerro Tololo observatory, located on the hill of the same name, where one of the most important telescopes on the planet and the first in our country is located. Later the SOAR and Gemini observatories were installed and the LSST observatory is under construction “, as well as a series of clear signs that Vicuña deserves to be considered the world capital of astronomy because of the greatness of its skies, 300 nights a year without clouds and the mention of these unique characteristics, not only in national media, but international ones such as The New York Times and The Guardian. In addition, tourist observatories such as Cerro Mamalluca stand out, as well as other observatories such as El Pangue, Alfa Aldea, Astro Elqui: cosmovision and archaeoastronomy, the Casa Bagua campsite, to name a few places that have implemented telescopes in their ventures.
The mayor of the commune, Rafael Vera said that signing this decree has a strategic sense, for decades the main sources of income in Vicuña have been thanks to agriculture, which will continue to be strengthened, and in cultural terms the figure of the poet elquina Gabriela Mistral, but astrological tourism will also be given a fundamental value. “We have the clearest skies and that gives us the possibility to also enhance that line, and if it is true that the traditional, the identity of Gabriela Mistral is an issue that we have been working on for a good number of years now, that of tourism It has been developing, we are offering a tourism with added value, and effectively being the world capital of astronomy, it allows us to channel a large number of tourists “commented the mayor.
Hernán Julio, journalist, scientific disseminator and director of the astronomy magazine Astrovida applauds this initiative because it points out that besides being the commune of Vicuña the first in the installation of scientific observatories, “the other thing is the fact that just in the commune there is the first dark sanctuary of nature, the first in Chile and that was declared by the Association of Dark Skies of the World and also the World Organization of Astronomy that also gives a stamp not only of the quality of the heavens, but also of darkness that today is so important because of the issue of light pollution, “says the researcher. “I think we also have to integrate the educational world, because young people are the heirs of these heavens, and not only the heavens, but what it involves is also a technological scientific heritage,” added Julio. It should be noted that the Gabriela Mistral Dark Skies Sanctuary is located in the grounds of the AURA observatory, belonging to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, who acquired the land in the 1960s, and since then they have tried to maintain favorable conditions. for astronomical research.
The name of the place is not accidental, since the poet was always in love with the Elqui Valley, her place of birth.
The macro objective of this project is to consolidate Vicuña itself as the world capital of astronomy thinking of the total solar eclipse that will take place on July 2, 2019.