For a long time, Chile has been playing a special role in Astronomy, thanks to its northern skies and andean mountains including those above the Atacama Desert. These areas embody the best places for observational Astronomy in the World. This explains why the most important Observatories in the world have chosen this land to invest in state-of-the-art astronomical Technologies. Among these observatories is ESO (The European Southern Observatory), constituted by 14 european countries.
Many astronomical activities are taking place at different institutions both in the European and Chilean counterparts, such as the Heidelberg University and Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC). These universities host important astronomical groups, with research and scientific training profiles that stand out from the rest.
For the vast majority of Heidelberg astronomers, using telecopes placed in Chile is an essential part of their work. This and other reasons pushed Landessternwarte Heidelberg (ZAH – Zentrum für Astronomie) to build several astronomical instruments in this south-american country.
As hosts, national astronomers can use 10% of the observational time in the foreign telescopes installed in Chile. This prerrogative helped several local universities to increase its activities linked to Astronomy, which now have become a priority for chilean science.
For these reasons PUC and Heidelberg, each featuring active and World-class astronomy groups have now pooled their efforts in a new academic program which receives support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and German Foreign Office.
The objectives of the cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC) are the recruitment and the formation of very talented Ph.D. students as well as the implementation of high level joint projects in scientific and technological areas.
The astronomy program:
• A joint Ph.D. program in which the students from PUC will profit from the excellent research environment at the Zentrum für Astronomie of the University of Heidelberg and the students from Heidelberg will be able to take part in the excellent research possibilities offered by PUC.
• A joint professorship which serves as a link between both universities. At the beginning this professorship will be filled by young investigators who have recently obtained a Ph.D (junior professor). It is envisaged to maintain this modality through the years.
• A scientific exchange program, as basis for joint investigation projects and development.
• The exchange of scientific and technological knowledge, especially in the area of astronomic instrumentation.
• Schools and workshops organized jointly.
• A cooperation in public relations and in the further training of teachers.