The Ckoirama Observatory (from the kunza language, which means “twilight”) is the first Chilean state-owned observatory under desert skies, managed by the Unidad de Astronomía (Astronomy Unit) of the Universidad de Antofagasta (University of Antofagasta). Work on the final setup took place during May and June 2015, reaching first light in June. Its main goal is to support research on exoplanets and minor bodies of the Solar System.
The creation of the Ckoirama Observatory was possible thanks to contributions from the CONICYT QUIMAL Fund, project 130004; FNDR 2% Culture Fund, Región de Antofagasta (Antofagasta Region); in addition to the resources provided by Universidad de Antofagasta and several public and private organizations operating in the Región de Antofagasta.
About the site of the observatory
Ckoirama is located on the plains of the Atacama Desert, 65 km away from Antofagasta, to the South East. Several scientific studies provide a characterization of the environment of the site. We highlight the following two:
- McKay et al. 2003, Astrobiology 3, 393: Temperature and Moisture Conditions for Life in the Extreme Arid Region of the Atacama Desert: Four Years of Observations Including the El Niño of 1997–1998.
- Navarro-González et al. 2003, Science 302, 1018: Mars-Like Soils in the Atacama Desert, Chile, and the Dry Limit of Microbial Life, article and supporting online material.
Model: PlaneWave Instruments CDK24
Diameter: 0.6 m (24”)
Optics: CDK (Corrected Dall-Kirkham)
Material: Carbon fiber
Focal length: 3962 mm
Focal ratio: f/6.5
Weight: 109 kg
Model: Mathis MI-1250
Maximum load: 145 kg
Accuracy: ~5 arcsec
Weight: 108 kg
Main technical specs:
Model: FLI ProLine 16801
Sensor type: Full frame
CCD class: Clase 1
Pixel matrix: 4096×4096
Diagonal sensor: 52.1 mm
Pixel size: 9 µm
Maximum cooling: -60º C under environmental temperature
Quantum efficiency: 52% a 550nm
Dark current: <0.08 e-/pixel/sec @ -35ºC
Weight: 2,54 kg
Model: FLI CFW-5-7
Thickness: 0.85 mm
Filter positions: 7
Installed filters: sloan ‘r’, ‘g’, ‘i’
Filter size: 50 mm
Filter thickness: 1-5 mm
Weight: 1.95 kg
Model: Custom design
Type: Roll-on roof
The construction of the roof was the responsibility of professionals from Universidad de Antofagasta, involving staff from Electrical, Mechanical and Software Engineering, as well as staff from the Unidad de Astronomía.
Operative system: Microsoft Windows 8
Telescope control: DC3-Dreams ACP Observatory Control + STI
Scheduling of observations: DC3-Dreams ACP Scheduler
Camera control: MaxIm DL V6
Focus control: FocusMax
Standar driver: ASCOM
Access to the observatory
For scientists (preliminary information, it may change)
While most scientific observations acquired in the Ckoirama Observatory are meant to support the research activities related to projects managed by Universidad de Antofagasta, it is possible to establish collaborations with other Chilean or foreign research centers, by requiring observations in service mode. These observations will be scheduled by a local Time Allocation Committee, according to a procedure that will be defined during its first year of operation.
For educators and general public (preliminary information, it may change)
The Ckoirama Observatory will allow public visits and will schedule acquiring some data in support of formal educational activities, according to terms that will be published during 2015.