To celebrate the month of science in Chile, during the first week of October 2022 the Mobile Laboratory “Conciencia astronomía” operated by the Las Campanas Observatory (LCO), in alliance with the EcoScience Foundation and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMTO), visited the sector of Tierras Blancas (Coquimbo Region) and the town of Puchuncaví (Valparaíso Region), to carry out activities with children, young people and adults.
In Tierras Blancas, this visit was the second so far this year and took place within the framework of the town’s 62nd anniversary, thanks to the efforts of the community area of the Tierras Blancas Municipal Delegation. More than 500 people from the locality participated, including children from 4th to 8th grade and social organizations of the territory. During three days, between October 3 and 5, the participants learned about the properties of light, how astronomers work, the place where the Las Campanas Observatory is located and the telescopes that are part of it. In addition, they viewed some astronomical images generated with these observation tools and were able to clarify doubts about the moon, the stars and life on other planets.
“It is a pleasure to come to this type of activities because it gives a different vision of reality to what children are used to. This is the second time we are participating in this activity and the children leave very happy, entertained and learning in a different way,” said Karuna Ortiz, from the Santo Tomás de Aquino School. For Alejandro Galleguillos, Municipal Delegate of Tierras Blancas, the visit of the mobile laboratory was a great success in the sector. “The children have become enthusiastic about science and astronomy and this encourages us to continue articulating networks with public and private organizations, so that scientific dissemination reaches our community,” he said.
On the last day, an inclusive workshop was held for blind people from the area, grouped in the Apolo Association. A tactile model of the planets of the Solar System was used to explain the size scale and the main characteristics of these objects.
After this visit, the Mobile Laboratory moved to Puchuncaví to conduct workshops with the children and teachers of the Panal School, which included solar observation, and a “star party” for the inhabitants of the area. The latter included a talk on light and telescopes and night observation with the naked eye and telescopes, and was attended by about a hundred people.
All the activities of the Mobile Laboratory “Conciencia astronomía” are carried out between Las Campanas Observatory, the EcoScience Foundation and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMTO). LCO operates the laboratory and leads the activities through its outreach area, headed by astronomer Carol Rojas, Communications and Outreach Manager of the observatory.