Press Release

Close to the Sky

New book on fauna and flora at ALMA site just published

22 November 2007

Today, a new ALMA outreach and educational book was publicly presented to city officials of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, as part of the celebrations of the anniversary of the Andean village.

Entitled "Close to the sky: Biological heritage in the ALMA area", and edited in English and Spanish by ESO in Chile, the book collects unique on-site observations of the flora and fauna of the ALMA region performed by experts commissioned to investigate it and to provide key initiatives to protect it.

"I thank the ALMA project for providing us a book that will surely be a good support for the education of children and youngsters of San Pedro de Atacama. Thanks to this publication, we expect our rich flora and fauna to be better known. I invite teachers and students to take advantage of this educational resource, which will be available in our schools", commented Ms. Sandra Berna, the Mayor of San Pedro de Atacama, who was given the book by representatives of the ALMA global collaboration project.

Copies of the book 'Close to the sky' will be donated to all schools in the area, as a contribution to the education of students and young people in northern Chile.

"From the very beginning of the project, ALMA construction has had a firm commitment to environment and local culture, protecting unique flora and fauna species and preserving old estancias belonging to the Likan Antai culture," said Jacques Lassalle, who represented ALMA at the hand-over. "Animals like the llama, the fox or the condor do not only live in the region where ALMA is now being built, but they are also key elements of the ancient Andean constellations. In this sense they are part of the same sky that will be explored by ALMA in the near future."

The ALMA Project is a giant, international observatory currently under construction on the high-altitude Chajnantor site in Chile. ALMA will be composed initially of 66 high-precision telescopes, operating at wavelengths of 0.3 to 9.6 mm. The ALMA antennas will be electronically combined and will provide astronomical observations which are equivalent to those from a single large telescope of tremendous size and resolution.

Chajnantor was selected as the ideal spot for ALMA, following several years of atmospheric and meteorology studies. The high elevation, stable atmosphere, and low humidity make it one of the best locations in the world for radio astronomy. To protect the outstanding conditions of Chajnantor, the Government of Chile declared a major portion of the area a scientific reserve.

The publication is available in PDF format. It is the second book on ALMA for the general public, following the previous launch of "Footprints in the Desert", also available on the Internet in PDF format in Spanish.

More information

ALMA is a partnership between Europe, East Asia and North America in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. It is funded in Europe by ESO, in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica in Taiwan and in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc.

Connect with ESO on social media

About the Release

Release No.:eso0750
Legacy ID:PR 50/07
Name:Atacama Desert
Type:Unspecified : People : Other/General
Facility:Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array


A useful tool for schools
A useful tool for schools
A useful tool for schools
A useful tool for schools
Presentation of the ALMA book
Presentation of the ALMA book