Solar eclipse in Chile: Paranal will open its doors every weekend in July 2010

People travelling from all over the world to Easter Island, Chile, to witness the total solar eclipse on 11 July 2010, now have the chance to add another astronomical destination to their route. ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory, will offer guided visits to the public every weekend in July 2010, and also on Friday 16 July in the week after the eclipse. Normally public visits to Paranal are scheduled for just the last two weekends of every month, except in December, but due to the high demand by amateur astronomy groups visiting Chile, ESO has added more weekend openings.

Solar eclipse in Chile, ESO
Guided visits take place during the day only, so as not to disturb the science observations. They include a tour to the platform of the VLT and the unique opportunity to see the mirror of one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes on the site.

Paranal Observatory is located on Cerro Paranal, 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta and 1250 km north of Santiago, in the heart of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. Visits to Paranal are free of charge. Tourists and students should make a reservation online and make their own way to Paranal. Large groups should register well in advance as there is limited space.

Please be aware that night visits are not allowed, and only registered visitors with confirmed reservations will be permitted to tour the observatory.

Image Credit: ESO

In the image above tourists visiting ESO’s Paranal Observatory are posing for a snapshot.
The weekend visits are normally scheduled for the last two weekends of every month, except December.
A dedicated web page with all relevant information about tourist and student visits to Paranal is available at:
http://www.eso.org/public/about-eso/visitors/paranal/index.html

Note: Occasionally, as in July 2010, more weekends are open to the public.

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