9th October 2015 by emmadurnford

9th October 2015

So, now we’re in Chile. Three things I would take for granted at home but now am very glad to have again here - a consistent hot shower, fresh milk (not dried) and to be able to flush toilet paper away rather than post it into a bin (probably didn’t need to go into that bit!).

Our hotel is a great place to relax and San Pedro de Atacama is a great dusty little town. It consists mainly of companies trying to arrange tours to the places that we have just travelled from but in addition to that it has its own history and a pretty town square with a simple adobe church as the focal point. Something I seem to have developed a penchant for over the years is to find the local post office (Correos) and visit to buy stamps - using one of the few complete sentences in Spanish I have mastered. I do this anywhere around the world in our travels. SPA (as it’s known locally) was no exception and the post office is basically just a room with a chap who prefers chatting on his mobile and outside there is a GPO moped and push bike. I love these places!

Nearby is an artisans market which I plan to visit on my own tomorrow so I can really browse (I’ve already earmarked a necklace to match my earrings, some knitted llamas and some alpaca socks - classy).

After a relaxing complimentary massage arranged by the hotel we prepared for our main reason for visiting this area - an evening trip star gazing with telescopes and a guide. I had researched this and booked many months ago. We were all set and the moon is just a sliver so perfect for some astro-photography. We are in the Atacama Desert - the driest place in the world. This is the centre for astronomers across the world and there are many international observatories in this area. It was cloudy. Yes, it was CLOUDY.

I cannot quite believe it. We were picked up at our allotted 8.25pm (not sure why not 8.30) and we missed the hotel BBQ and had to settle for just the salad bit. We were driven to the guide’s house where he had about 10 different telescopes all set up in his back yard. It was still cloudy. This was a bit of a present to Colin as he is really interested in astronomy but we have way too much light pollution at home to manage any viewing. After some persuasion we set off in the guide’s car in the direction of another range of mountains (with a portable telescope) as apparently we are “in a basin” and so although there are “330 days of clear skies” we, apparently had one of the 35 cloudy ones. We traveled for over an hour and had to stop at a police road block where armed Carabineros checked our guides paperwork which he initially could not find. Eventually after he veered onto the wrong side of the road quite a few times trying to check the night skies, we stopped and I managed to grab a few pics. and I do have an idea of what settings I should use. Poor Colin did not even get a chance to look through the telescope (or to try on his new balaclava!).

We headed home. The only positive was that we were not charged for the evening - I did offer expenses. This is the best of a bad bunch of photographs of the Milky Way with approaching cloud (did I mention it gets cloudy in the Atacama Desert?!!).

Techie Spec: ISO 3200, F/3.5, Shutter 20s, Daylight white balance, 24mm, manual infinity focus.

(Best viewed on a black background if you have time)
Did you see @creampuff there!! Love the narrative. Say hi to Colin.
October 10th, 2015  
@padlock He would have loved it… apart from the cloud. Have I missed something? I seriously thought that as the driest place in the world, it would be sun and cold at night. Its cloudy today what?!!
October 10th, 2015  
What a shame Emma that it wasn't clear. However, you managed to get this nice shot and I hope you are enjoying your expedition.
October 10th, 2015  
Leave a Comment
Sign up for a free account or Sign in to post a comment.