Last Thursday, March 25, 2021, in the context of the celebrations of Astronomy Day in Chile, the first session of the seminar “Valparaíso, Cradle of Modern Astronomy” was held, with the participation of experts in heritage and astronomy. The activity, held online, was co-organized by the Altura Patrimonio Foundation, the Senate Extension Center, the Chilean Society of History and Geography, Las Campanas Observatory of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the Institute of Physics and Astronomy at University of Valparaíso.
This session was about “The First Observatory” and was presented by Leopoldo Infante, director of Las Campanas Observatory. A parallel was made between the history of the first astronomical observatory in Chile and Valparaíso, exposing the complexities faced by heritage conservation in the country. This observatory was installed by the Scottish watchmaker and businessman Juan Mouat in his house in Cerro Cordillera (Lord Cochrane Museum, former Castillo San José) 178 years ago, and was declared a historical monument in 1963.
The exhibition included presentations by astronomer Leonardo Vanzi, academic of the Astroengineering Center at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, on Astronomical Heritage; by architect Daniela Bustamante, President of the Altura Patrimonio Foundation and member of the Chilean Society of History and Geography, on the First Observatory; and by museologist and cultural manager Julia Koppetsch, President of Corporación Wunderkammer Valparaíso and researcher of the Altura Patrimonio Foundation, who spoke about Juan Mouat. The activity ended with a discussion moderated by University of Valparaíso academic Eduardo Ibar, with the participation of the Rector of the University of Valparaíso, Osvaldo Corrales; the Seremi of Cultures, Arts and Heritage Constance Harvey; the Seremi of Sciences of the Central Macro Zone María José Escobar; the Senator of the Sixth Circumscription of Valparaíso Kenneth Pugh; the Regional Relations Officer of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Bárbara Núñez and the President of the Neighborhood Council Nº 78 of the Cerro Cordillera Eduardo Cueto.
You can relive the seminar at Las Campanas Observatory Youtube channel and read more about the First Observatory at this link.