Viaje a Las Estrellas #1… Renca

— Dave Jones

On the 14th of January, the Star Sailors had their first event of the new year, “Viaje a las estrellas” (literally a journey to the stars!) in the condominium of Antumalal in the Renca commune of Santiago.

With the help of members of the local Caylo astronomy club, the Star Sailors provided a wide range of activities for the many children and their parents in attendance. The square of the condominium provided ample space for the near one hundred residents in attendance, with all the children having an opportunity to take part in each of the activities as they wished.

Inspired by pictures of some of the amazing satellites that have been launched into space, including the Voyager-2 spacecraft famous for its flyby of Jupiter, the children designed and constructed their own model satellites from polystyrene and coloured paper. With limitless imagination, the designs included everything from solar panels to aid the satellites on their long journey out of the solar system, to radio antennae to communicate with people back on Earth! Meanwhile, others were busy painting model planets, learning all about the size and other properties of the Sun and the planets in orbit around it. Many of the houses of Antumalal are now home to painted planets and model satellites as the children took them home as souvenirs of their evening.

Probably the most popular activity of the evening, with both the adults and children, was the chance to look through the telescopes brought along by the Caylo astronomy club. For many this was their first time looking through a telescope, something which never fails to excite, with the surface of the Moon as well as the moons of the planet Jupiter revealed in exquisite detail.

Almost as spectacular as the astronomical wonders revealed by the telescopes, was the launching of some homemade vinegar rockets. After clearing some space (and not always enough!), the most intrepid of the ESO volunteers mixed vinager with bicarbonate of soda inside the bottle rockets and waited for the explosive effects!

Finally, as the evening drew to a close, the remaining families were treated to an astronomically-themed magic show from our team’s resident magician “Flo El Mago”. It was a mind-blowing display, featuring tricks loaded with interesting facts about the planets and their moons.

To commemorate their participation in a “journey to the stars” all of the children were awarded an official diploma. The event was organised in collaboration with La Fundacíon Gestion Vivienda, an organisation involved in social housing projects for some of the most vulnerable families in the country.

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