On Exploring the Driest

Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance. (Will Durant, historian)

You should not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst. (William Langewiesche, author)

No doubt about it – deserts are dry. Because all deserts are not created equal, where is the driest desert on our planet?

Surely you didn’t guess the place in the image above, which is Death Valley in California. Besides, I’m confident the Atacama Desert quickly came to everyone’s mind.

Yes, the Atacama – a 600 mile (1,000 km) high plateau in Chile. The Atacama – sandwiched between the Andes Mountains to its east and the Pacific Ocean to its west. The Atacama – the land of stone, sand, and salt lakes. The Atacama – a land of unique flora and fauna that is sparsely populated by people.

Unlike previous posts in this series, today’s Explore provides two short looks at Atacama – an initial drive through the desert followed by the beauty of its night sky. Enjoy this journey to a land you may not have known until now.

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33 thoughts on “On Exploring the Driest

  1. Great post, Frank. I enjoyed both videos. Star-trail photography is something I’d love to be able to do. And there are places here in the Rockies where light pollution is still at a minimum. I can see why Atacama would be a popular place to put an observatory.

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  2. Been devoting my energies elsewhere for a month or so (if you want to know why, you can find out here: http://www.thebestadvicesofar.com/2016/03/11/when-the-dust-settles. But now, I’m happy to be getting back in the swing, of both writing and reading.

    I needed this tonight. There really is nothing like the night sky when looking up from the desert, with no man-made light whatsoever interfering. It’s a strange combination of terror and exhilaration.

    These are the very last words of the last paragraph of the last chapter of my book, The Best Advice So Far: “It’s a mindset. It’s purposefully keeping a sense of wonder and imagination … it’s about getting uncomfortable with the idea of staying in your comfort zone. It’s living as if there is more to life than the path I walked yesterday. Because there is.
    Much more.”

    Thanks for the timely reminder!

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    • Erik,
      Amazing how some posts can be ever so timely for some. Glad we had synchronicity at work.

      Absolutely loud cheers for the sense of wonder. For me, views of deep space capture that sense at a high level … good words from your book!

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  3. It has taken me some time to read your post–one of many of yours I have saved to read! I do love the deserts I know, including Death Valley. Thanks for introducing me to this Chilean desert. And the stars?! Incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

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