“The Noticers of the world are rare and beautiful gifts. … Pausing to delight in the simple joys of everyday life is the only way to truly live.”
— Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama
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Texas A&M astronomer Nick Suntzeff is one of these treasured souls, as evidenced by the following photographs and captions from his recent trip to La Serena, Chile, where he was observing at his former home for more than two decades, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). (Click individually or scroll through, etc.)
For the first time, however, he did so using the world’s largest digital camera, the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam), for which fellow Texas A&M astronomer Darren DePoy (whom Suntzeff helped recruit to Texas A&M from DePoy’s own nearly 20-year career building the astronomy program at Ohio State) served as the project scientist.
Small world, not to mention breathtakingly beautiful!
Observing at Cerro Tololo in Chile, using the world’s largest digital camera.
Cerro Tololo, bathed in late afternoon sun. You can see the shadow of Cerro Tololo on the distant ridge of mountains.
Cerro Cinchado (cinchado means banded) in the right center, and Cerro Morado on the left. Both these mountains are on the AURA property.
The 0.9m telescope is on the left. This is the telescope we used for the Calan/Tololo photometry of bright supernovae.
The 4m Blanco telescope at sunset.
We still have a small library on Cerro Tololo. I would guess almost no one uses the bound journals since they are all on the NASA ADS server. Many of the books, however, are not. The borrowing cards show the succession of some of the pioneers in the observatories in the Southern Hemisphere.
From my walk today to the western face of Cerro Tololo. The mountain sits on an old lava flow from when Cerro Pachon was a volcano. The lava cooled and formed columnar andesite, like Devil’s Postpile in California.
A barrel cactus growing on the cliff. Cerro Chincado is the banded mountain in the back. The white layer is from the Cretaceous period, and there are fossils in the chalk. At the base of Chincado is an extensive petrified forest.
Bailahuen bushes growing on a cliff. Bailahuen is used in a common herbal tea in Chile. The mountain always has the fragrance of this herb.
Westering sun over the city La Serena at the mouth of the Elqui River. The white you see is the Pacific Ocean.