El Leoncito National Park
The El Leoncito Park offers magnificent mountain landscapes in a semi desertic environment. There are a few nice treks available, and two observatories can be visited. I had the opportunity to make a visit at the Complejo Astronómico El Leoncito (CASLEO) that has one of the largest mirrors telescopes in Argentina.
I was in the park during the total lunar eclipse of May 16, 2022. I attended a night tour on the ground of the second observatory (Cesco). There was no access to a large telescope, but I was able to observe the stars and the moon with a few professional telescopes.
Seeing the lunar eclipse, which lasted about 4 hours for the whole process, was an interesting experience.
Cascada del Rincón Trail
Here is the waterfall or what is left of it. Strong rains caused a flood that destroyed all the beauty of the site. However, along the path, one can see how a small river can carve its way in the desert land of the park.
Paysaje de Agua Trail
Complejo Astronómico El Leoncito (CASLEO)
This observatory is home to one of the largest scientific telescopes of the country. A visit is a very interesting way to learn some facts about the telescope with mirrors.
Here are some facts:
|the large mirror is 2.15 metres wide and weighs more than a ton|
|the telescope is built over a concrete slab with a depth of 14 metres|
|on average, night conditions are excellent 270 nights a year|
|the entire dome can rotate|
|each night, the room temperature where the telescope stands is gradually lowered to that of the exterior to avoid condensation on the optical elements|
|images are digitalized directly from the telescope and sent to computers|
Total lunar eclipse
On May 16, 2022, a total lunar eclipse was visible from the park. This kind of eclipse occurs when our planet passes in between the moon and the sun.
The steps of the eclipse are (a process that last about 4 hours):
|before the eclipse, the full moon is visible|
|when the earth begins to obstruct the line of sight between the sun and the moon, a shadow starts to grow and the moon seems to dissapear|
|in fact, as the white radiance of the moon fades, the moon is still visible, but with a much paler reddish colour|
|finally, toward the end of the eclipse, when the earth stops from blocking the light of the sun, the white full moon reappears gradually|
Cerro El Leoncito Trail
This 8 km trail reaches a hill with an altitude of 2,519 metres. The landscapes along the path are fantastic.
Landscapes from a mirador
At dawn, I go to a mirador where the Andes Mountains are visible.
Pampa del Leoncito
Between the El Leoncito Park and the Andes Mountains, there is a curious dry lake. I guess it must fill itself with waters during the summer rains.