Magazine article ROM Magazine

Chile-Atacama and Easter Island: Explore Mysteries of the Heavens and Earth with Bob McDonald

Magazine article ROM Magazine

Chile-Atacama and Easter Island: Explore Mysteries of the Heavens and Earth with Bob McDonald

Article excerpt

Come December 2015, ROM travellers will journey south to take in the best possible view of our planet's pristine night skies and gleaming stars. Bob McDonald, host of CBC's Quirks & Quarks and the science correspondent for The National, will be joining us on our visit to Chile.

The trip will begin with exploring the high-altitude Atacama Desert. In the unique ecosystem of the world's highest and driest desert, we will be seeing "moonscapes," salt flats, geysers, volcanoes, lagoons with flamingos, pre-Inca ruins, and petroglyphs. It is a remarkable landscape that includes the towering snow-capped Andes Mountains filling the background.

Bob McDonald will take us on an extraordinary behind-the-scenes tour of the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) observatory, where remarkable high-altitude telescopes probe the deepest reaches of space. As he points out, "The southern skies are the richest anywhere. The bottom of the world faces the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy, the heart of our stellar city holding hundreds of billions of stars. That's why the largest telescopes in the world, (some of them operated by Canadian astronomers), are located south of the equator." A New Year's Eve dinner will be followed by stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama, a small Spanish-style oasis town on the Altiplano of Chile. We will then travel to the South Pacific volcanic island, Rapa Nui, more famously known as Easter Island, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. …

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