November 18, 2020 #ChileDiverse

3 reasons why Chile is a paradise for studying Astronomy

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The ideal conditions of Chile's skies, in addition to the state-of-the-art technology that has been installed here, are some of the reasons that attract both national and international students and even established astronomers to observe and study the skies from Chile.

  1. Clean skies

"There is no other country with similar conditions. It is a paradise for astronomy. The Atacama Desert has two aspects that are fundamental for observation: there are no clouds and there is little atmosphere between the telescope and the stars. These are ideal conditions for observing them and the galaxies," says German astrophysicist Matthias Schreiber, professor at the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María and alternate director of the Planetary Formation Millennium Nucleus (NPF).

This idea is shared by Thomas Puzia, professor at the Instituto de Astrofísica UC, also from Germany, who says that very few other places in the world have observing conditions comparable to those in Chile, "only Hawaii with its observatories on the tops of inactive volcanoes and Antarctica come close to the quality of the observations made in continental Chile," he says.

  1. First class technology

Not only do the clear skies make Chile one of the best places to come to study astronomy, the important infrastructure that has been built here is another reason. "Many professional observatories are located in northern Chile and investigate the universe at optical, infrared, sub-mm and radio wavelengths. Students from Chilean universities have a unique opportunity to observe and collect important data sets from the beginning of their careers," says Puzia.

Schreiber complements by saying that in addition to the fact that Chile has more than half of the best telescopes in the world, there is privileged access to make use of them. "Chile has 10% of the right of use and this is a huge advantage considering that the rest of the world has to share the other 90%. This means that undergraduate and graduate students will be able to study with the best telescopes in the world. When I was in Germany this was not possible. It is a privileged and fascinating access because they are also located in the middle of the desert, at an altitude of 5,000 meters", he emphasizes.

  1. Labor field

In relation to the labor field, Schreiber remarks that most of the doctoral students who have been his students, work in a permanent position in research. "If you study in Chile, the level is so good that it is easily possible to compete with students trained in the United States or Europe. The labor field is growing," he concluded.

These three reasons have made Chile such an attractive place to study the skies, even popularizing the phrase "Chile, the eyes of the world". As for the interest of foreign students, the UC professor comments that every year they receive applications from international students from all continents. "Due to their unique potential for astronomy, Chilean universities are becoming extremely attractive to new students who wish to learn about the universe. Although the pandemic dampened the number of students due to travel restrictions, interest continues to grow and will be strengthened by the next generation of extremely large telescopes to be installed in Chile," he says.

To study astronomy, a related career or a postgraduate degree in the subject, Chile has a large list of universities such as the Astrophysics Institute of the Catholic University, in addition to the Learn Chile Network of Higher Education Institutions composed of the University of La Serena, the University of Valparaiso, the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, the Metropolitan University of Education Sciences and the Federico Santa Maria Technical University.


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