Ventarrones Observatory is an astronomical site located in the Antofagasta Region near the area of the Paranal and Armazones observatories. It was a candidate site for the E-ELT and TMT astronomical observatories. According to the site testing performed by ESO the Ventarrones site has a 85% of clear nights and a total seeing of 0.91 arc seconds (see Vernin et al. 2011, PASP 123, 1334; Vázquez et al. PASP, 124, 868, 2012).
The coordinates of the summit of Cerro Ventarrones are:
Latitude = 24° 21’ 08’’ S
Longitude = 70° 13’ 30’’ W
The summit (2800m above the sea level) is located at a distance of approximately 90km from Antofagasta (straight line, see figure). The Ministry of National Assets gave the concession of Cerro Ventarrones site to UCN for 20 years. The site is a square of 5 km by 5km (total area of 25 km^2) located on the summit of the mountain.
Our goal is to develop an astronomical observatory that allows to strengthen the research activities of the IA-UCN and its collaborators. Currently we are negotiating with different foreign institutions with the aim of starting projects at the Cerro Ventarrones site.
Apart from astronomical research, the Antofagasta Region (and the country) has the challenge of developing alternative energy sources (renewable sources instead of conventional sources like fossil fuels) and using efficiently the water resource in the dry desert in the Region (some places are even called Mars analogues).
Finally, the UCN has the constant challenge of bringing science to the community and educating the new generations, and, also, strengthen the treasure of the dark sky through the support of astronomical touristic initiatives that restore the ancient regional culture.
By putting all these elements together, the development of the Ventarrones Observatory is aimed not only at strengthening astronomical research but also at combining other relevant aspects, which generates a diverse team composed of academics and collaborators, which in turn contributes to the development of the Ventarrones area.
Consolidating all of the above, our project in the Cerro Ventarrones is expressed in the following concept:
“Develop a sustainable green astronomical observatory including applied research related to energy and water, and at the same time become an educational and touristic center utilizing the conception of the ancient regional inhabitants”
Currently we are actively collaborating with academics of the different departments of the UCN in order to create an initial design of the joint project which will begin its development at the end of this year.
The Cerro Ventarrones Observatory will become a new center of astronomical research, a new center of development of applied technologies in energy and water, a new educational center, a new touristic center for enterprising and a new center of collaboration with partners for the Antofagasta Region.
On November 2016 UCN and The National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) signed a Memory of Understanding with the purpose of developing projects at the Ventarrones site. The main motivation of this agreement is to establish a new world class center of astronomical research at the Ventarrones site.
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