Where Will Science Take Us? To the Stars

  Where Will Science Take Us? To the Stars

The Atacama Desert in Chile is arguably the best place in the world to see the night sky. Above are antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, known as ALMA.CreditCreditTomas Munita for The New York Times

By Peter Kujawinski

After 30 hours of bumping along on planes and buses, at long last I stood in the darkness and gazed upon an immense night sky. My long journey seemingly had brought me to the shoreline of interstellar space rather than the high-altitude plateau that is Chile’s Atacama Desert.

It was the first night of a monthlong journey to visit astronomy observatories in Chile, Los Angeles and Hawaii. Whether designed for professional use or for the general public, observatories nurture humanity’s explorations of the cosmos. They spark wonder and discovery, but even before I set foot inside the first one, I was seeing outer space in a spellbinding new way…