Solar eclipse in Chile: Paranal will open its doors every weekend in July 2010

12 April 2010

People traveling from all over the world to Easter Island, Chile, to witness the total solar eclipse on 11 July 2010, now have the chance to add another astronomical destination to their route. ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory, will offer guided visits to the public every weekend in July 2010, and also on Friday 16 July in the week after the eclipse. Normally public visits to Paranal are scheduled for just the last two weekends of every month, except in December, but due to the high demand by amateur astronomy groups visiting Chile, ESO has added more weekend openings.

Guided visits take place during the day only, so as not to disturb the science observations. They include a tour to the platform of the VLT and the unique opportunity to see the mirror of one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes on the site.

Paranal Observatory is located on Cerro Paranal, 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta and 1250 km north of Santiago, in the heart of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. Visits to Paranal are free of charge. Tourists and students should make a reservation online (see links below) and make their own way to Paranal. Large groups should register well in advance as there is limited space.

Please be aware that night visits are not allowed, and only registered visitors with confirmed reservations will be permitted to tour the observatory.


  • To register for a public visit please see the important information available here
  • Travel information for Paranal Observatory is also available here
  • More information about the solar eclipse, including the detailed path of the Moon’s umbral shadow, is available here. Note that from Paranal the eclipse will only be partial.


Valentina Rodríguez
ESO Press Officer, ESO education and Public Outreach Chile

Gonzalo Argandona
Coordinator, ESO education and Public Outreach Chile

About the Announcement



Weekend visitors at Paranal
Weekend visitors at Paranal