Public Visits to Gemini South and SOAR at Cerro Pachón, Chile

Public Visits to Gemini South at Cerro Pachón, Chile

NOIRLab is pleased to receive public and educational visits at no cost to our site, and make every effort to accommodate the public interested in learning about astronomical research/engineering activities. A minimum of 24 hours notice is necessary for scheduled public visit requests.

  • The visits to Cerro Pachón (Gemini South or SOAR telescope) are limited to 25 visitors per tour.
  • The minimum number of confirmed visitors for a scheduled tour is 4 people. If the minimum number of people has not been met, (or the number has fallen below the minimum due to guests canceling) the day before to the scheduled visit, it will be canceled.
  • Visits may also be canceled because of operational problems, bad weather, natural disaster, accidents, or any other case of force majeure.
  • Cerro Pachón is located at an altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level, so we recommend not visiting people with hypertension, cardiovascular or lung problems.
  • Minors under 6 years old are not permitted.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • No gasoline, food, or beverages are available for sale at the observatories. Visitors are encouraged to eat light before the visit and bring their own food and beverages.
  • Drone flights are not allowed during public visits.
  • Closed shoes are required to enter the telescopes facilities.
  • All visitors will do the tour on a bus that will be available at the Observatory Access Gate (Km 50 Route 41 to the Elqui Valley).

During the reservation process we will ask you whether you comply with our Safety, and Liability rules. Please consult them here in advance: 


When to Visit ?


Day and tour capacities

Times and meeting points

Cerro Pachón, Chile

Every Friday

4–25 visitors per tour

9:00 am

Meeting point: Observatory Access Gate, Route 41/D-317, Km 50, La Serena, Chile

What will you see on the Tour ?

Visitors with reservations will gather at the Observatory Access Gate located in Route 41, km 50, at 9 am on the day of the visit. After checking in with your ID, you will receive a briefing about the safety rules and general information. You will then take the bus to continue the trip to Cerro Pachón. Arriving at around 10:30 am at the Gemini South or SOAR telescope, visitors will be guided around the telescope, starting in the Control Room to learn how astronomers perform astronomical observations, continuing to the main telescope platform with a view of the primary mirror and the suite of instruments in place, and finishing in the Mirror Coating area to understand engineering processes related to astronomy. Around 12:00 pm visitors will start to return to the Observatory Access Gate in the bus.

Check out our Facility's Virtual Tour to give a glimpse of your future visit!

How to book a Public visit?

  • Select a Tour below and complete the Reservation Form at least 24 hours in advance of your desired date.
  • The sites you are visiting are active worksites so please accept the Safety and Liability rules and recommendations provided in the Form.
  • Once you have submitted the form, you will receive an automated email informing you that we have received your booking; if you do not receive this notification please check your spam folder and if still not found send an email to us.
  • Please note that every effort will be made to follow through with your planned visit; however, certain circumstances may prevent us from being able to conduct the visit as planned. It is advisable to have a plan B, in case the visit is canceled. This can occur if the site become inaccessible due to weather, earthquake, or if there is an unplanned engineering event etc. If we need to cancel the visit we will let you know by e-mail as soon as we become aware of the potential issue. 

Travel information to visit Cerro Pachón, Chile, can be found here