Pisco Elqui is located in the vineyard-lined hills of the Elqui Valley of Chile. Popular with wine lovers, the area is now becoming visited by astronomy lovers. It has an estimated 70% of the world’s astronomy infrastructure, with astronomers lured here because of its high altitudes, low population density and near non-existent cloud cover. The International Dark-Sky Association declared Elqui Valley the world’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2015. The sanctuary site contains more than 35,000 hectares (90,000 acres) of mountainous terrain and hosts four major research facilities: the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO, the southern branch of the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory); the Gemini-South 8-m telescope; the 4-m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope; and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Enjoy astrotourism with some 300 clear nights a year in Pisco Elqui.
Chelynne Campion is a Production/ Sales Assistant for EarthSky. Her family just purchased a telescope, and she's now learning to be a stargazer!