San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta Region
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Chilean Night Sky
San Pedro de Atacama is located on the northern end of the Chilean salt flats. The landscape is a mix of ragged mountains and barren desert, resembling what I picture the surface of the moon to look like. At night you can take a ride out to the middle of the desert, far from any man-made lights, to visit an adorable French man and his Chilean wife who are astronomers. After they warm you up with hot chocolate and coffee, the couple take you to their "backyard" where they have set up 12-15 telescopes that everyone can use. We watched Jupiter rise over the Andes, then watched as the moon appeared. About an hour later, you could easily pick out 5 signs of the zodiak stretched across the night sky.
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