In addition to growing pisco grapes, the dry weather and cold nights of Valle Elqui are the cause of incredibly clear night skies. Several observatories are perched at the peaks of the hills that line the valley. While the famous Cerro Tololo observatory is farther south and is actively used for research (a Middlebury Professor, Frank Winkler was observing there the following week), the Observatorio Mamalluca was open to the public at night.

Incedibly clear skies and a telescope through which we could see saturn's rings.

photo: Greg Bock
The most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere is the Southern Cross It can be see at the top right of this image (four stars in the shape of a kite). Much like Polaris in the Little Dipper, the Southern Cross is used to find the south celestial pole in the night sky.

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