Important Information for Visitors

  • Driving to La Silla Observatory:

    • Ruta 5 (Panamericana) is a toll road, not free flow. If driving from the La Serena direction north to La Silla you will have to pay Chilean pesos $ 2.200, whereas driving from Copiapó direction south to La Silla you will have three tolls, CLP $ 8.700 in total. Please, make sure that you have CASH, as this is the only method of payment. Credit cards are not accepted.

    • More information about travelling to La Silla is available here.

    • However, due to a public event organized by the Regional Government of Atacama near the junction of the Panamericana with the C-541, a detour may be set up to minimize congestion. We will provide details soon if this is the case.

    • There is no gas station at or near the Observatory. You must have enough fuel to drive to your next destination and considering the high probability of heavy traffic.

  • Arrival at the Main Gate (Pelícano Camp): Please consider arriving before 10:00 AM as heavy traffic is expected. For safety reasons, private vehicles aren’t allowed to circulate inside the Observatory that day. You will be asked to park your vehicle at the parking zone that will be especially set up for the event. Doors will be open as of 8:00.

  • Security: Your hand luggage and special equipment will be checked at this point. Please be aware that only a hand luggage or photo equipment is allowed on the shuttles to the observatory. Bulky luggage shall be left inside the vehicle. Please consider taking the necessary precautions by locking your cars and not leaving any valuable belonging visible inside.

  • Green ESO: Disposable plastic bottles and glasses are not allowed. You may decide to keep them in your car or throw them in the recycle cans. You will be given an aluminum bottle that can be refilled without restriction at the water dispensers. Please, feel free to bring your own reusable bottles and/or Thermos anyway.

  • Check-in point: After the security control, you have to go to the check-in point to line up on the corresponding initial letter of your Last Name. Please, don’t forget bringing your ticket, ID/Passport and your Release Form, signed and printed. Minors stay with a parent or tutor to check-in.

  • Event Identification bracelets: At the check-in point, you will get an identification bracelet that you shall wear to get access to the event area. This bracelet includes tickets for a snack, as well as a hot and a cold beverage, which will be delivered at a specific point inside the tent for the general public. As it will be a long day, we recommend bringing your own food and beverage.

  • Eclipse special glasses: At the check-in point, you will also be given special glasses or view card to watch the eclipse safely. Please remember that, unless the Sun is fully covered by the Moon (during totality), looking straight to the Sun during the partial eclipse can produce irreversible damage to your retina. Please check the Eclipse timeline and the Solar Eclipse Eye Safety poster at the end of this section. Normal sunglasses (even with the highest UV protection), as well as any kind of no-certified filter don’t serve to this purpose. 

  • Boarding the shuttles to the Observatory: After accredited you will be guided to the bus stop to board the shuttle to the Observatory (20 km, about 30 minutes away). Please, be patient, as, at some point, we may have a crowd going through safety control, and boarding.

  • Environmental Conditions, clothing and personal care:

    • The Observatory is located at an altitude of 2,400 m.a.s.l. This may affect your body and/or impair your mental capabilities and judgement due to low oxygen. If you experience any of the following symptoms, please inform ESO personnel or the paramedic immediately: acute headache, dizziness, nausea, breathing problems, ringing or blocking of ears, heart pains, acute muscular pains, seeing “stars”. Please check with your physician before exposing yourself to those conditions.

    • It is recommended to bring warm clothes, ideally with a first layer, cap and gloves, as well as jackets and wind stopper. Comfortable and warm shoes are also recommended. Remember that it is winter time, therefore, the windchill in case of high wind speed can easily be below 0ºC on the summit.

    • Please protect your skin from UV radiation with sunblock and your eyes with sunglasses. Keep yourself hydrated all time.

  • Shelter: There will be a tent that provides a minimum refuge in case that weather conditions are not optimal.

  • Health and Emergency: two policlinic, three ambulances, two doctors and four paramedics, as well as an emergency brigade will be on site. In case of emergency, follow the instruction of the emergency coordinators.

  • Internet: There is very limited infrastructure on La Silla, so visitors cannot count on having Internet coverage on site. Wireless LAN is not offered. There is some, but limited, cell phone coverage on site.

  • Electrical Connectors: There won’t be electrical outlets in the general public tent, please bring your own power bank and/or loaded batteries if necessary.

  • Event area: you should remain in the demarcated areas for your group unless specifically agreed with the personnel in charge. Signs will indicate your eclipse view point area. Please do not go off the road under any circumstances. In case of doubt or need, please contact the personnel in charge.

  • Tour at the telescopes: as well as the boarding and disembarking of the shuttles, you must always follow instructions from the personnel in charge. All personnel will be clearly recognizable.

  • Smoking: is not allowed inside the buildings and public areas (except in the areas specifically demarcated as smoking zone).

  • Departure at the end of the event: The time planned to start evacuating is 18:00. Invited students and elderlies of the Region of Coquimbo, as well as invited students from all the country regions, will have priority to start boarding shuttles at the end of event. Consider that the round trip to the Gate (Camp Pelícano), boarding and disembarking passengers lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes, we estimate that the last shuttles may depart from the mountain top at 22:00 hours. Please be patient. Please, also bear in mind that the probability of heavy traffic on the public roads and the highway until late hours is very high. Please, be prepared.

Eclipse timeline

This clear-weather simulation timeline shows the phases of the total solar eclipse 2019 at La Silla. Credit: ESO / P. Horálek, M. Druckmüller, P. Aniol, Z. Hoder, S. Habbal.

Solar eclipse — Eye safety poster

Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi ( Horálek


For ticket-holders tickets will be refunded only if the event has to be cancelled because of a force majeure situation, such as strongly adverse meteorological conditions, natural disasters, and any other event which may compromise people’s safety.

In any of these cases, the observatory has the authority to cancel the event and deny the access to visitors at La Silla Main Gate (Camp Pelícano). Please understand that in such cases ESO will not reimburse any accommodation, travel or other expenses.

In any of these cases, updates will be swiftly provided on this website as well as through ESO’s social media. Please, make sure that you regularly check any of these channels during the days prior to the eclipse.

Tickets will not be refunded due to weather conditions which may impair the view of the eclipse, such as clouds (for statistics, see "The Weather" section).