Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Observer Information Visiting Observer Visiting Observer Guide

Visiting Observer Guide

Dear Visitor: Everyone is required to sign that he/she has read this section. Not everybody reads it and therefore we are frequently asked about matters carefully described in the main body. Particularly frustrating and time consuming is to have to register a visitor's computer (as explained in the page). See the index at the beginning, but also make an effort and read the page as well as the basic safety instructions. They are useful, after all.

PLEASE NOTICE:

 


NOTICE: TELEPHONE NUMBERS IN LA SERENA REQUIRE A "2" IN FRONT OF THEM AS OF JUNE 15, 2013

WE HAVE GONE OVER TO A VOIP TELEPHONE SYSTEM. IT TAKES A BIT TO LEARN THE QUIRKS.


  last modified DECEMBER 11, 2014; miguel@lco.cl)

 

Dear Observer,

 

This set of instructions is aimed at making your visit to Las Campanas successful in terms of your scientific program. It also covers other details that you might encounter during your trip. Included are the following sections:

 

1. Prior to your run (computer registration, payments,

transport schedule)

 

2. Arriving in Santiago

 

3. Arriving in La Serena (airport pick up)

 

4. Arriving on the mountain (Driving anywhere?)

 

5. Contacting your Night Assistant

        

6. Getting help

 

7. Arrangements for departure (check the schedule)

 

8. Telephone system

 

9. Useful telephone numbers and addresses

 

10. Charges

 

 


1. Prior to your run

  • Filling the necessary forms (see below) is a safe way of communicating with the Observatory's administration and technical staff. If in doubt, please contact (rbermudez@lco.cl) for details on your travel and other doubts.
  • All observers required to pay for Room&Board and transportation need to pay before departing. Make sure that you will be carrying a credit card, check or cash in order to settle your bill. Aside of Room and Board, transportation or other expenses incurred on your behalf in Chile, the observer has to pay also for slit masks (IMACS, LDSS3, GISMO and MMIRS). 
  • Make sure that you are in possession of a valid passport for the duration of your trip.
  • Observers of some nationalities require a visitor's visa (China and India, among others). In most cases these can be obtained at the closest Chilean consulate but an invitation letter from the Observatory is required. Write to miguel@lco.cl with a copy to Roberto Bermudez (rbermudez@lco.cl) indicating: Full name, Nationality, Passport number, dates of travel, consulate where the visa will be requested (please provide fax number of this consulate and your own fax number). PLEASE ALLOW AT LEAST 30 DAYS FOR THE PROCESS OF REQUESTING AND RECEIVING THE VISA. IT SEEMS THAT THE PROCEDURES HAVE CHANGED FOR SOME NATIONALITIES AND DIFFERENT CONSULATES HAVE DIFFERENT PROCEDURES. 
  • The following site  http://http://chile.visahq.com/ allows you to determine if you need a visa or not.
  • Check the Observatory's web page (http://www.lco.cl) for manuals, personnel, safety information and set-up forms and travel forms. Your set up form is the only indication we have that you will, actually, be observing. Ideally you should send in your set up form 30 days in advance. Your travel form HAS to be with us at least one weak before your arrival. We need to be able to program trips on a weekly basis, therefore, unless we have your travel plans well in advance we can't guarantee that you will be able to get to and off the mountain the way you want it.

  • We  had two occasions in the past year when we didn't receive TRAVEL PLANS due to web/DNS /disk failures. We strongly recommend that you check the Transport Schedule on our web page. If you don't see your name on the date you are supposed to go up to the mountain, contact Roberto (bermudez@lco.cl), ASAP.
  • The Observatory does not provide winter clothing or flashlights so make sure to bring your own. Typical nighttime temperatures in winter are between 5 and 10 °C and a parka is recommended.
  • Most power plugs on Las Campanas are US-standard, 110 volts. Bring an adaptor if you need one.
  • Special dietary requirements should be specified in your travel form
  • Carry a copy of your passport with you in your suitcase, as well as the numbers of your credit cards.
  • We strongly encourage you to bring and register your laptop computer even if you are not going to observe.

    .

     For details about registering your laptop click here. Doing this will allow you to access our network on the mountain or in La Serena. Failure to pre-register is one of the big sources of frustration and a waste of time. It even increases costs for the Observatory when a registration has to be handled as an "emergency".

     

  • If more than two observers are planning to come to Las Campanas, permission has to be obtained from the LCO Director by e-mailing miguel@lco.cl . While we will try to accommodate all observers, keep in mind that lodging facilities are limited. You may be requested to share a room.
  • Who pays Room and Board charges, how much and how (see table at the end):

- Withe the exception of observers belonging to Chilean institution and under the Carnegie-U. of Chile agreement, everybody is required to pay for Room and Board before departure. You will receive a detailed invoice of your charges. Payment can be made with cash, check, credit card or charge card, either on LCO or in La Serena. Partner institution will NOT be invoiced any more.

- Observers allocated time by the Chilean TAC do not pay. Chilean collaborators who observe on time NOT allocated by the Chilean TAC are expected to pay. We assume that the PI will pay, but if you are in that category, please confirm with him/her.

- MANY BANKS WILL REFUSE PAYMENTS FROM UNUSUAL PLACES IF NOT INFORMED BEFOREHAND. PLEASE DO THAT. 

WE DEMAND THAT YOU DON'T DOWNLOAD ILLEGAL MATERIAL (MOVIES, ETC.) AND DON'T FORCE OUR BANDWIDTH BY STREAMING BIG ITEMS (MOVIES, SERIES, ETC.) 


2. Arriving in Santiago

You will arrive at the International Terminal. If you arrive in Chile for the first time or carry a new passport, you will be required to pay a "reciprocity fee" or "entry tax". The fee equals the amount a Chilean national has to pay to obtain a visa or to enter any of the mentioned countries. That is the "reciprocity!" Fortunately, credit cards are now accepted! Although these fees may vary, these are approximately, the current charges:

 

Country Fee

Australia

$95


Mexico $23
      Albania   $30   (?)


 AS OF MARCH 1, 2013 US-CITIZENS DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE RECIPROCITY FEE SINCE CHILE IS PART OF THE VISA-WAIVER COMMUNITY. 

FOLLOWING THE TREND CANADIAN CITIZENS DON'T HAVE TO PAY EITHER

If you have to pay the fee, save yourself some time: As you come down the stairs into Immigration , look to your left and you will see the payment area. Settle your payment there, before continuing to the line of International Police. The fee has to be paid before. There are now more booths.

After going through International Police, pick up your luggage even if it has been checked all the way to La Serena, and go through the "Nothing to Declare" section. If you carry forbidden items (produce, seeds, etc.) you will be asked to open your luggage. Unless declared, this is an offense and implies serious fines. Non-produce items are generally OK. If you are carrying equipment, make sure to let us know in advance.

Please keep the stamped copy of your tourist form with your passport, as it will be required when you leave.

***************************

LIKE IN MOST COUNTRIES, VEGETABLES, DAIRY PRODUCTS AND, IN GENERAL, FOOD, SEEDS, ETC. ARE RESTRICTED IN CHILE. AVOID STEEP FINES AND AN UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE BY WRITING "YES" IN THE DECLARATION FORM. THE CUSTOMS AGENT WILL TELL YOU IF WHAT YOU ARE CARRYING IS LEGAL OR NOT. USE COMMON SENSE.

 ****************************

 

If you interrupt your trip in Santiago and you have requested it, a driver will be waiting for you at the exit area. Avoid offers for other means of transportation. If you make your own arrangements, or if you find that for some accidental reason nobody is there to pick you up, use the "TAXI OFICIAL" counter. Purchase a ticket inside the terminal.

ARRANGEMENTS CAN BE MADE FOR RESERVATIONS AT A HOTEL IN THE PROVIDENCIA AREA (PROVIDENCIA), BY INDICATING SO IN YOUR TRAVEL FORM. LIKE EVERY OTHER HOTEL, THEY CAN BE SOLD OUT, THEREFORE WE RECOMMEND TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WELL IN ADVANCE. THE DEFAULT HOTEL IS CALLED ''EL VERGEL'' (El Vergel 2223, corner of Lyon and El Vergel in Providencia. Tel. (56) 2 2343 0852.  ( www.hotelelvergel.cl). A HOTEL AT OR CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT CAN ALSO BE ARRANGED.

If you want to change money, avoid the exchange place inside the customs area or in the exit hall. Use one of several ATM distributed throughout the terminal. You will obtain Chilean currency at the best exchange rate with your regular bank card. Use the ATM machine as you would normally and look for an option "CLIENTE EXTRANJERO" or "FOREIGN CUSTOMER" on the lower left side on the first set of options that you get. From then on, you can chose the language.

  • If you are continuing to La Serena and you have checked luggage, pick it up on the corresponding belt, go through customs and procede to the National Section of the Terminal. You don't need to leave the main building, just go to the 3rd floor, and look for the LAN or LAN-EXPRESS signs, get into the line and drop you bags at the first available counter. There is Wi-FI (Free!) at the STARBUCKS shop (ask for the daily password) in the lower level of the National terminal and at a cafeteria called "Tamarugo" in the upper floor of the Terminal; this one sometimes doesn't work properly .
  •  
  • Computer carrying cases seem to be a hot target for thieves. While in the Terminal, keep it always with you, don't leave it unattended on the floor, even for a very short time.
  •  
  • Your flight will be on LAN Express, LAN-CHILE's name on national routes. If you lose or miss a connection in any direction and your national trip has been purchased in conjunction with you international ticket, the airline will take care of you. Passengers arriving in La Serena in the afternoon, may have to spend the night in La Serena.
  •  
  • If you encounter difficulties and require assistance in either Santiago or La Serena, call the La Serena office. From a public phone dial 0-51-207301 during working hours. Public phones use 100 Chilean pesos coins. There are offices to make calls in the national as well as international Main Terminal. Calling cards are available in many places at the terminal. In an emergency you can call Miguel Roth's mobile phone: From a pay phone dial 09-9817-0166. From overseas dial +569 9817-0166 .
  •  
  • IF YOUR FLIGHT FROM THE U. S. GETS DELAYED OR CANCELED SO THAT YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO ARRIVE IN LA SERENA AS SCHEDULED, AND ESPECIALLY IF THIS HAPPENS DURING A WEEKEND, YOU SHOULD e-mail miguel@lco.cl, mmpl@lco.cl , and/or ( bermudez@lco.cl) TO INFORM US OF YOUR ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL IN LA SERENA (if you know it) AND WE WILL MAKE OUR BEST EFFORT TO RE-ARRANGE YOUR PICK UP AT THE AIRPORT AND TRIP TO LAS CAMPANAS.

 

3. Arriving in La Serena

 

Someone will be waiting for you at the La Serena airport with a light blue sign indicating "LAS CAMPANAS OBSERVATORY" to take you to the El Pino offices. Due to flight delays or misscommunications of one sort or another, it has happened (very infrequently) that nobody is there to take you to the offices or the Observatory. In that case, take one of the blue taxis to the Las Capanas offices (a 5 minute drive). 

Depending on the arrangements, you will either stay at the El Pino "Motel" or go to the mountain right away. Roberto Bermudez ( bermudez@lco.cl) is the contact person regarding transportation, flights, confirmations, etc.

 

If at any time during your visit you plan to stay in La Serena, make sure that a room has been reserved for you. There are only 3 bedrooms at the La Serena premises and they are often booked. Arrangements can be made to stay at the CTIO Motel.

4. Arriving on the Mountain

NOTICE: 

  • LODGING IS FREQUENTLY AT A CRITICAL LEVEL. THEREFORE WE NEED CRITERIA TO ALLOCATE ROOMS AND DECIDING IF SHARING A ROOM IS NECESSARY.

We will try to generate as little inconvenience as possible. Since we don't have sophisticated software, or a Reservations Desk, we need to do it by hand.

Here are a few criteria:

0) Nobody has a guaranteed individual room. Rooms may not be in one of the 12 rooms at the lodge level and may be rooms used by personell off shift.
1) Observers have the highest priority, especially if the number of observers per telescope is kept to a minimum.
2) Engineering groups have a better chance to get individual rooms if they are kept small.
3) We will try to take into consideration a "first come-first serve" criterion, but sending a travel form for a run 6 months down the road doesn't necessary help.
4) The Director of the Observatory will do his best to settle conflicts.

All of the above can be superseded by visits of authorities of Carnegie, the Magellan Consortium and high officials in general."


AFTER A LONG BATTLE WITH BOTTLED WATER (AND THE EMPTY BOTTLES), WE ARE TRYING TO REDUCE THE PROBLEM OF SHIPPING THEM BOTH WAYS. MOREOVER THERE IS NO RECYCLING FACILITY IN LA SERENA. 

UPON ARRIVAL YOU WILL BE HANDLED AN ALUMINUM FLASK WITH THE CAMPANAS AND CARNEGIE LOGOS. IT IS FOR YOUR PERSONAL USE. WATER DISPENSERS ARE BEING PLACED AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS ON THE MOUNTAIN. IF YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR BOTTLE HOME, BRING IT WITH YOU WHEN YOU COME AGAIN. ALTERNATIVELY, WE WILL FIND A WAY OF KEEPING IT FOR YOU.

 
  • Upon arrival your name will be on a white board in the lodge indicating your room number . Remember that we don't lock the rooms at Las Campanas; if you do lock the inside, don't forget to unlock it when you leave the room. You may find yourself locked out at odd times when it will be difficult to find someone to unlock the door for you. During normal hours, there are keys in the kitchen.
  •  
  • Check that your room is properly equipped (towels, soap, toilet paper, etc.). Check that all the plumbing is functioning well. Check the black-out curtains.
  •  
  •  We try to keep day-sleepers as far as possible from noisy activity. We can provide you with ear-plugs if necessary. Use the ''Do Not Disturb'' sign while you plan to sleep.
  •  
  • Problems with your room should be informed to anyone on the technical staff or resident astronomers who can also help. The Paramedic on duty will see to it that it gets fixed.
  •  
  • A vehicle for each telescope is provided as of the day of your first observing night (at noon). Driving on the mountain should be limited to the necessary only. Driving rules can be found in the SAFETY section of the Observer Info section of the web page. All observers' cars have signs indicating who should use them. All of them have stick shift. PLEASE always drive slowly and carefully.  

 

  • If there is snow on the ground or there is risk of a storm, be extra careful and avoid driving as much as possible. NEVER drive your car away from the mountain top. If you need or want to drive away, make sure to inform someone on the technical crew. Limited arrangements can be made.
  •  
  • Meals are served "cafeteria style" in the lodge at the following times:
  •  
    • Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 am (Late breakfast can be requested from the cooks at any time.)
    •  
    • Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 pm
    • Dinner: 6:30 - 7:00 pm (Observers can have dinner earlier, as desired. In winter this is usually 5:30 pm but if you wish anything different let the cooks know. Please help our staff by delivering your tray as soon as you have finished your meal. You can stay in the dining room as long as you want, but our personnel has to finish their daily work at a certain time.
     
  • You will find forms with alternatives for your night lunch on the counter in the dinning room. Try to fill out your form shortly after lunch. The default is a sandwich that will be taken to the dome by the Night Assistant. Fruit, cheese, crackers, cookies, coffee, tea and soft drinks are available at the telescopes.
  •  
  • We will try to accommodate your dietary needs as much as possible. If you are vegetarian or have strict dietary needs, please indicate this in the Travel Form. An assortment of salads at every meal is noe the norm.
  •  
  • The Astronomers Support Building houses the library, visitors offices, staff offices and shops.

5. Contacting Observer's Support and getting technical assistance.

  • You will be contacted by an Instrument Specialist upon arrival or in the afternoon. If you sent in your set-up form, the instrument(s) will be ready for you to start calibrations, set-ups, etc. on the afternoon of your first night.
 
  • The night assistant will get to the telescope by sunset and will be waiting for you. If you want to contact the night assistant prior to your first night, leave word in the kitchen or ask anyone on the technical staff or resident astronomers to do so. Night assistants have their meals around 5:30 pm.
 
  • The telescope operators have defined working hours which run from sunset to dawn including one hour for their meals and some rest. This will be transparent for the observers, in general.
  • If a problem occurs during the night, the telescope operator will request the necessary technical assistance. Astronomers and operators should use their judgment to determine if the technical assistance should be requested, depending of the hour and the complexity of the problem. Neither the astronomer or the telescope operator should attempt to fix an instrument unless it's something totally obvious.

6. Getting help, In general.

Your best bet are the people on the technical staff and the resident astronomers. All of them are bilingual and are there to assist you.

 

Technical staff can be located either at one of the telescopes, or in the Astronomers Support Building. Anyone there will help you with dome flats, checking out the equipment, computers, e-mail, etc.

 

NOTE ON REPORTING PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED DURING THE NIGHT or DURING YOUR RUN: This is an important issue. When you encounter a problem that needs to be reported to the day-time crew make sure that it gets clearly written into the night report. Don't assume that the Telescope Operator is always aware of your difficulties. Make it explicit. Night reports are web-based and can be edited and re-submitted if more information needs to be provided. A section has been included in the nightly reports for astronomers to write their comments. Please use this to report daily problems, needs, requirements, etc.

 

Any form of help you may require, please contact anyone on the technical staff or one of the resident astronomers.

7. Arrangements for departure

If you are unsure about your departure schedule, ticket confirmation, etc., contact Roberto Bermudez (207304) in La Serena, during working hours, Monday through Friday. Usually, a vehicle schedule is posted on the billboard at the entrance to the lodge and and at the telescopes. You will find your name on it, if arrangements have been made. You can also check on the LCO web page, under ''Travel Schedule''.

8. Telephone system

A list of the mountain extensions and instructions for the use of the telephone system is placed by every telephone or check here. Dial "0" or "9" to get an outside line.

Long distance telephone calls:

  • You will be able to dial a long distance call to destinations other than the U.S. and Canada directly only if you have a calling code in Pasadena.

     

  • If you have a code in Pasadena, dial: 3+your Pasadena code+9+00+country code+area code+number
  •  
  • If you don't have a code number you MUST use a calling card.
 

THERE ARE NOW VONAGE TELEPHONES IN EVERY DOME (except the Swope telescope). CALLS WITHIN THE US AND CANADA ARE FREE. SIMPLY DIAL (AREA CODE)+NUMBER.

 

9. Useful telephone numbers

  • The Country Code for Chile is 56; Area Code for La Serena is 51; Area Code for Santiago is 2. 
  •  
  • La Serena Office (El Pino Office): Colina El Pino, across from the University and the AURA compund. The tall pine tree (El Pino) is a landmark in town.
  •  
    • Telephone numbers: (51) 2207301
    • Fax: (51) 2207308
     
  • Mountain:
    • Telephone: (51) 2203626 or  2203639
    • Fax: (51) 2203627
  •  
  • CTIO Switchboard: (51) 2205200
  •  
  • United States Consulate (2) 2 2232-2600, in Santiago
  •  
  • Canadian Consulate (2) 2 2362-9660
 

If you have your credit cards stolen or if you lose them, call:

 
  • Visa International (2) 2 2631-7003
 
  • Master Card International (2) 2 2631-7003
 
  • American Express 800-201-022

10. Charges (SEE NEW VALUES AFTER SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2014.)    

Fees for Services at LCO Facilities. Charges are given in Chilean pesos and converted to US$ at the daily rate.

ROOM AND BOARD AT LCO

 

 

CLP 71,500/night+ CLP 66,000 FOR TRANSPORTATION (RETURN TRIP) 

CLP 74,400/NIGHT AND CLP 68,700 FOR TRANSPORTATION AFTER SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2014

LA SERENA MOTEL ROOM

COURIER FOR VISA INVITATION LETTER          
CLP 11,000

CLP 25,000


Taxis, air, bus tickets, and any other services At cost
Masks for multi-object spectrographs  IMACS: CLP 110,000.
 GISMO: CLP 55,000.
 LDSS3 and WFCCF: 20,000

 As a reference, you can use 1US$ = CLP 550

 NOTE: Charges are made in Chilean pesos, converting the dollar amount at the daily rate

Document Actions