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