Astronomy Program

In 2006, CONICYT established the Astronomy Program in order to position this area as strategic for the development of science in our country, and to turn Chile into an astronomy world power. The skies over Chile are extraordinary for astronomical observation. That is why some of the most powerful observatories in the world are located in this country: Gemini–South, GMT, LSST, E–ELT, APEX, and ALMA. In 2020, Chile will concentrate 70% of the world’s telescope infrastructure, which will represent a USD 6 billion investment.

Director: Luis Chavarría Garrido

Budget 2013: USD 1,79 millon

Lines of Action:

  • Support, strengthening, and pubic outreach for astronomy, in order to position this field as strategic for the development of science and to turn Chile into an astronomy world power.
  • Promoting scientific and technological cooperation and attracting new projects and investment in astronomy, through strategic national and international alliances.

Funding Instruments

  • Competitive call “Funds for the Development of Astronomy in Chile”, ALMA–CONICYT and GEMINI–CONICYT.
  • Operation of the GEMINI National Office.
  • Competitive call for QUIMAL Fund, for the Development of National Astronomy Instruments and Technology.
  • Competitive call for the management of Chilean observation time (37%) at Gemini–South, APEX, and ALMA telescopes.
  • Management of Atacama Astronomy Park in Antofagasta Region. With over 36,000 hectares, it hosts the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), PolarBear, and CLASS on Cerro Toco, and the 1 m Tokyo Atacama Observatory (mini–TAO) on Cerro Chajnantor. Also, on Cerro Chajnantor, the Atacama Telescope (CCAT) and the 6.5 m TAO will be installed, along with other projects that are under consideration.

Main Achievements in 2012

  • Resources awarded to 10 projects through the ALMA–CONICYT Fund, and to 11 projects through the GEMINI–CONICYT Fund.
  • Granting of 796 observation hours for Chilean researchers at APEX radio telescope (40 projects), and 195 hours at Gemini South radio telescope (21 proposals).
  • Scientific Cooperation Agreement in Astronomy signed between CONICYT and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which will be implemented in 2013.
  • Second Chile–China Astronomy Workshop, held in Beijing with the participation of 15 Chilean astronomers.
  • Launch of the QUIMAL Fund for the Development of National Astronomy Instruments and Technology, which finances the construction or acquisition of instruments.
  • Presentation of “Astronomy, Technology, Industry: Roadmap for the Fostering of Technology Development and Innovation in the Field of Astronomy in Chile,” a joint effort of CONICYT, the Ministry of Economy, CORFO’s InnovaChile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Innovation Council for Competitiveness (CNIC).
  • Progress was made in the implementation of the Atacama Astronomy Park to consolidate the 50–year concession on Llano de Chajnantor. mini-TAO (Tokio Atacama Observatory), Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), and Polarbear are already in operation. The installation of CLASS has been approved for March 2013.

Advisory Council 2012


  • José Miguel Aguilera


  • Patricia Arévalo
  • Álvaro Fischer
  • Andrés Jordán
  • Cristóbal Philippi