An astrophysicist from the South Okanagan will start a “unbelievable” opportunity managing the world’s biggest telescope in Chile.
Sean Dougherty runs the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Kaleden, B.C., but on Monday will leave for Chile to end up being the director of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory.
ALMA is a state-of-the-art telescope located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It is the largest ground-based astronomical project in presence and aims to study a few of the furthest galaxies in the universe.
” I threw my hat in the ring not truly believing … I’m from Sleepy Hollow in the South Okanagan and they asked me if I ‘d take the task,” Dougherty informed Sarah Penton, host of CBC’s Radio West.
” It was frustrating in the sense that this is an unbelievable opportunity.”
Dougherty was a mathematician who later made his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Calgary.
He likewise functioned as a Canadian member of the ALMA board for 2 years and was asked to look for the brand-new role at the Chilean observatory.
He will run the operations in Chile and likewise be accountable for offsite operations that happen in North America, Europe and Japan.
Studying the universe
He leaves this week and will be signed up with by his family in April for the complete length of the five-year contract.
He calls it a “wonderful household adventure.”
” It’s the kind of opportunity you’re not getting asked to do every day, that’s for sure,” he stated.
” I understood if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would constantly be thinking what would have occurred if?”
The observatory is situated high on the Chajnator plateau in the Chilean Andes and is a collaboration between international partners from Europe, North America and East Asia.
ALMA itself is comprised of 66 high-precision antennas, spread over a distance of up to 16 kilometres.
The goal of ALMA is to study star formation, molecular clouds and the early universe.
Dougherty says the only downside is leaving his “amazing little village” in the Okanagan Valley, but says his family does intend to return to B.C. once his contract ends.
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