About SOAR

Where SOAR is located

Google Map showing location of SOAR. SOAR is located at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet) above sea level on Cerro Pachón, 300 miles north of Chile's capital Santiago. SOAR's location offers exceptionally clear, dark skies and is one of the world's best astronomical sites. Additionally, the southern hemisphere's skies have remarkable celestial objects that are unseen or poorly seen in the north. Click here for a movie showing the view of the southern sky from SOAR.

SOAR is on the same property as the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory and is a few hundred meters east of the Gemini South 8 meter telescope. SOAR is also located on the same mountain, Cerro Pachón, as the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

How SOAR works

telescope with view of mirror
SOAR is a reflecting telescope, and works by collecting and focusing light with mirrors. The primary mirror is 4.1 m (13.5 ft) in diameter. SOAR has been designed to produce the sharpest images possible with any ground-based telescope. More information on the optics is available at this link.

Spartan Infrared Camera
SOAR produces images not only in visible light but also in infrared. A suite of specialized instruments are available for imaging and spectroscopy, including MSU's Spartan Infrared Camera, which is shown in the image at right.

remote observing room, MSU
Astronomers at MSU operate SOAR from the Remote Observing Room on the MSU campus in East Lansing, MI. Observers send instructions over the internet to the telescope and have images sent back.