Chile and the United States: Partners in Astronomy

Sep 27, 2004, 01:00 ET from American Astronomical Society

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, September 29th, the
 American Astronomical Society, the Embassy of Chile and the University of
 Chile will host two events under the title "Chile and the United States,
 Partners in Astronomy." The purpose of this meeting is to highlight the close
 relationship between Chile and the United States in the field of Astronomy for
 the last 150 years. This bond between scientists of both countries has allowed
 during the last 50 years, and particularly over the last decade, the
 installation of large telescopes in Chile, making possible highly relevant
 discoveries in the field of astronomy.
     Additionally, Chile has unique climatic and geographic qualities which
 favor research of the skies. The dry climate up north and the clarity of the
 atmosphere were key factors that persuaded North American scientists to
 establish a base in Chile and to build the first international observatory in
 Cerro Tololo in 1967.
     The first event on September 29th at noon, will begin with a lunch
 conference in the US House of Representatives (Rayburn House Office Building.
 Room 2325. Capitol Hill). The purpose of this first activity is to present to
 the scientific experts of the American legislative branch, the relevance of
 the research in the astronomy field being conducted in Chilean northern
 observatories and the future potential out of cooperation between both
 countries in this sphere of knowledge.
     Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R) and ranking member Bart Gordon (D) of the
 House Science Committee are cosponsors of the event. One of the key-note
 speakers will be Dr. Paul Vanden Bout, Director of the North American
 Scientific Center of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). Following Dr.
 Vanden Bout, Dr. Maria Teresa Ruiz, Director of the Astronomy Department at
 the University of Chile, will address the audience. The conference will end
 with Congressman Dario Paya's address, member of the Science and Technology
 Committee of the Chilean House of Representatives.
     As highlighted by the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Congressman
 Boehlert: "The U.S.-Chile astronomical partnership is a testament to what can
 be accomplished when nations work together for the advancement of science.  It
 has produced some of the greatest astronomical observatories in the world,
 from which have sprung countless discoveries that have greatly enhanced our
 knowledge of our universe.  As Chairman of the House Science Committee, I will
 continue to encourage this valuable partnership as it undertakes to build the
 next generation of premier telescopes."
     Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, the Ranking Democratic Member of the House
 Committee on Science, made the following comment regarding cooperation
 between Chile and the United States in astronomical research:
     "Chile and the United States have had a long and successful partnership in
 expanding the frontiers of astronomy.  The current radio astronomy project,
 led by the National Science Foundation, to construct the Large Millimeter
 Array is the most recent in a series of astronomical observatories that take
 advantage of the unique conditions available for astronomy in Chile.  The
 scientific collaboration between our two nations has helped forge ties of
 mutual understanding and friendship as our scientists work together to
 unravel the secrets of the universe."
     Starting at 2:30 p.m., at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (1530 P
 Street NW), a seminar will take place targeted at the North American
 scientific community. At this second event, the work and projects of the
 current and future observatories in Chile will be presented. We will hear
 from: Dr. Jose Maza, with the Astronomy Department at the University of Chile;
 Dr. Monica Rubio, President of the Chilean Society of Astronomy; Dr. Fred Lo,
 Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); and Dr. Anthony
 Redhead, from the California Institute of Technology. Other participants will
 be Dr. Nick Suntzeff from Cerro Tololo Observatory; Dr. Scott Fisher, from
 Gemini observatory; and Dr. Miguel Roth, Director of Las Campanas Observatory.
     Mr. Andres Bianchi, Ambassador of Chile for the United States, describes
 as follows the relevance of the Chile-North America collaboration in the
 Astronomy field:
     "422 years of Chilean astronomy have passed since a Spanish soldier made
 the first notes on a lunar eclipse in the city of Valdivia. A leap in
 knowledge in this area and also a first 'partnership' between the United
 States and Chile came with the arrival in 1849 of US scientists from the
 Washington Naval Observatory, to look at Venus and Mars.
     The importance of Chilean skies was highlighted by the building of the
 international North American as well as European observatories since the
 1960's in Cerro Tololo, La Silla and Las Campanas.
     Successive generational leaps took place in 1990 with the construction of
 a very large telescope in Cerro Paranal, with Gemini Sur, with the Magellan
 project and, more recently, with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)
 that by 2010 will install 64 parabolic antennas in the Llano of Chajnantor.
 But the exploration of Chilean skies is not over yet. As we speak, new mega-
 observatories projects -- even larger than the ones operating today -- with
 the capability of exploring remote stars and galaxies are being assessed. This
 is only possible with international collaboration. Chile aspires to
 participate in this scientific and technologic effort deploying our most
 valuable assets: our skies, our universities, our technical and scientific
 researchers, and our economic and institutional stability."

SOURCE American Astronomical Society