Telecon: Chilean Skies: Amateur and Professional Astronomy in the Andes
Image of the Gemini Observatory Complex on Cerro Pachón
Image Credit: Vivian White 


Slides, audio, and transcripts of the completed telecon are now available on our dedicated resource page
NSN members joined three of the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors to learn about the incredible array of professional telescopes high in the Chilean desert. The same factors that draw professionals to the area also make Chile a great place for amateur astronomers to learn about the southern skies. See what's up in astronomy's most inviting country and how you can be a part of it.

Our guest speakers were:

 Dr. Brian Koberlein is a Senior Lecturer of Physics and Astronomy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and an RIT media expert in astronomy, astrophysics and physics. He has authored several research articles, as well as Astrophysics Through Computation, an undergraduate textbook on computational astrophysics.  In addition to his academic work, Dr. Koberlein is a tireless promoter of scientific understanding. His articles on physics and astronomy have appeared on numerous science websites including EarthSky, Nautilus, Universe Today and From Quarks to Quasars. He makes daily posts on physics and astronomy on his blog Once Universe at a Time (, where he also hosts a weekly podcast on a range of science topics.  Dr. Koberlein is also a founding member of Prove Your World (, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit using online media to promote science literacy and scientific habits of mind in children ages 8 - 13.

Peter Detterline
Boyertown Planetarium

Image of Peter DetterlinePeter Detterline  is an avid astronomer whose interests cover a wide range of the astronomical spectrum. He teaches astronomy to people of all ages as Director of the Boyertown Planetarium, and runs a dual credit astronomy class at the school. He was a mentor for students chosen by NASA to work with the Mars Exploration Rover mission, and the Mercury Messenger mission. He is a professor of astronomy at Montgomery County Community College and has worked with the Tzec Maun Foundation providing state-of-the-art Internet telescopes in New Mexico and Australia for student use. He has coauthored numerous papers on eclipsing binaries and contributes to the International Meteor Organization and the American Amateur Variable Star Observers. His interest in archeoastronomy has led to a patent on a ”Rock Fashionable Calendar Horologe” which is the discovery of a reproducible calendar stone used by early man. A founding member of the Mars Society, he is responsible for the design, construction, implementation and documentation of the Musk Observatory at the Mars Desert Research Station. He continues to work with Mission Support as Observatory Director for international astronomers who wish to use the facility. As an amateur astronomer he has traveled the globe to view solar eclipses, built his own observatory, and has completed many observing programs including the Astronomical League’s “Master Observer”.

Image of Vivian White
Vivian White has been an astronomy educator with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific since 2006. She uses her degree in physics, a Dobsonian telescope, and a fascination with human learning to inspire people to look up in wonder at the riches of the night sky. Working mostly in informal science settings, her background has also included training classroom teachers in hands-on astronomy through Project ASTRO and inspiring middle school students with practical math. She currently designs activities for amateur astronomers engaged in public outreach through the NASA Night Sky Network, a coalition of over 450 astronomy clubs across the US. She is also researching meaningful astronomy experiences for preschool children in museums through an NSF grant. A suite of activities for 3- to 5-year-olds will be released in early 2016 through the Astronomy from the Ground Up community. Vivian enjoys sharing the splendors of the night sky on sidewalks, in observatories, through camps, and in local and national parks. Her love of the sky has taken her far and wide - the most recent adventure involved teaching astronomy to Buddhist monks in India. When not pondering our path through the universe, she can be found musing off center at her kick wheel or splashing in tide pools of northern California with her young son.

Images and biographies from:

Logo for the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program
Logo for the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program
Image Credit: NRAO

Logo for the 2015 International Year of Light

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The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
The ASP is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that advances science literacy through astronomy. Your contribution is tax-deductible as provided by law.