Moving from Las Campanas Observatory to San Pedro de Atacama (both in Chile)

In March 2011 the prototype “Pi of the Sky” mount and cameras were moved from Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) and installed in San Pedro de Atacama Observatory (SPdA), more or less 740 km (460 miles) north. The new site is about 27 meters (89 feet) higher above sea level (2407 meters or 7897 feet) than the old one (2380 meters or 7808 feet). This site is closer to the equator, so we are able to observe slightly bigger part of the sky.

As it was in the LCO this site is equipped with two cameras with CCD 442A sensor, 2048×2048 pixels resolution. Both cameras have EF CANON lenses with the focal length f = 85 mm (f/d = 1.2). They are set on the same part ot the sky and can monitor 20°x20° area with 10 s time resolution. The device is fully autonomous, designed to work without human supervision.

The main goal of the “Pi of the Sky” experiment is to detect optical counterparts of GRBs at the very beginning and during the gamma emission or even before it. The observation strategy is based on the continuous monitoring of the large part of the sky with high temporal resolution and the fast image processing algorithms, allowing for optical transient recognition in real time. The full system will consist of 2 sites separated by a distance of the order 100 km, each site consisting of 12 custom-designed survey CCD cameras. Pairs of cameras from two sites will work in coincidence and observe the same field of view to allow rejection of false signals coming from near-earth objects. The whole system will be capable of continuous observation of about 1.5 steradian of the sky, which roughly corresponds to the field monitored by the Swift satellite. The whole system was installed in 2011 and in March 2014 there was its major upgrade.

We are very grateful for the hospitality and support we received from Alan Maury.

Some pictures from the new site (click to enlarge):


View Larger Map Where we are

The SPdA panorama
The SPdA panorama

The open dome and cameras at sunrise
The open dome and cameras at sunrise

The centre of the Milky Way
The centre of the Milky Way


Visit our second site in the northern hemisphere (Spain)