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Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory - Other Activity La Serena - Chile

Perched 2200 meters atop a hill 88 km southeast of La Serena lies an impressive cluster of futuristic domes otherwise known as the Observatorio Cerro Tololo. Bought in 1967 by Asociation of Universities for the Research in Astronomy Incorporation (AURA), this astronomical observatory has five working optical telescopes; at 4 km, the silver-domed Victor Blanco is the largest. A division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), Cerro Tololo works with the government to to preserve the dark night skies amid population growth.


Although visitors aren't allowed to actually operate the telescopes, it's still fascinating to visit the site and learn about them. Guided two-hour tours are available on Saturdays at 9:00a.m. and 1:00p.m. They book up fast – especially during the winter – so reservations should be made several weeks in advance. Spots can be reserved by calling 56-51-205200 or emailing Although the tours are free, permits must be purchased at their offices in La Serena (Casilla 603).

A few things to keep in mind: Cerro Tololo does not provide public transportation, so you will need to set up your own transport (don't forget the return ride). Also, the sale of beverages is not permitted, so they advise you to bring along some water or juice, as the total tour time (including transport) is four hours. To get here from La Serena, head southwest on Route 41. The access road has a large sign with the observatory's blue and yellow emblem.

Ruta 41
Around La Serena, La Serena, Chile

Other Activity

Price Description: Admission: free

Contact Information:
Phone: 56-51-205200
E-mail: ctiorecp(at)

By Rachel Anderson
I'm a twentysomething dandelion floating across the field of youth. I have an unquenchable thirst for writing, exploring and cheap wine. A cross...
03 Jul 2009

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