Our NEOShield-2 expert, Davide Perna is currently in Chile to study the physical properties of small near-Earth asteroids. Follow his adventures and discoveries at the La Silla observatory!
On Friday afternoon I took a flight from Santiago to La Serena, and then a shuttle bus, to reach the La Silla observatory, 600 km north of Santiago and at an altitude of 2400 metres. I’m very glad to be here again, almost 8 years after my last visit (I was acquiring data for my PhD at that time). This is a really wonderful place, where the subtle color variations of the desertic mountains are just interrupted here and there with sporadic vegetation. And… with snow! Indeed some astronomers working here told me that during the last week the weather has been very bad (this happens even in the best astronomical sites, every now and then!), and they lost a lot of observing time. Luckily, the sky is now clear and the weather will hopefully remain good during our NEOShield-2 observations… fingers crossed! Before having dinner, at sunset I had a walk around: I love how the mountains and the telescopes (you can see “my” NTT telescope in a picture) take on a reddish tinge at this time… and when darkness finally falls, thousands and thousands of stars start to twinkle, and the Milky Way appears in all of its splendor. A magnificent sight that helps me stay awake until dawn, “training” for being more efficient next night, when I will start my near-Earth asteroid observations… of which I will tell you soon!
Sunset on the NTT telescope at La Silla obsevatory, Chile
Sunset on the beautiful mountains surrounding La Silla observatory, Chile