La Silla Observatory
nepâhešgâh-e La Silla
Fr.: Observatoire de La Silla
The site of the → European Southern Observatory's first observatory in Chile, inaugurated in 1969. It is located 160 km north of the town of La Serena and 600 km north of Santiago at an altitude of 2,400 m bordering the southern extremity of the Atacama Desert. La Silla is equipped with several optical telescopes with mirror diameters of up to 3.6 m. The 3.5 m New Technology Telescope was the first in the world to have a computer-controlled main mirror, a technology developed at ESO. The ESO 3.6 m telescope is now home to the world's largest extrasolar planet hunter: HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher), a spectrograph with unrivalled precision.
From Sp. la silla "the saddle," after the apparent shape of the mountain on which the observatory is situated. Originally known as Cinchado.