during the wee hours of the morning, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit chile southwest of santiago. there are several major observatories in chile which house some of the largest telescopes on earth. the gemini-south telescope lives at the southern-most observatory, which is about a 7 hour drive north of santiago. a friend has reported that he could feel a rumble at the telescope, but no damage occurred as a result of the earthquake and observations will carry on as normal tonight! i havent heard news from the other observatories, but they all live several hours farther north of the earthquake epicenter.
the earthquake generated a tsunami that is currently propogating across the pacific ocean. it is set to hit hawaii at 11 am local time. i have several friends using telescopes on mauna kea right now, and some in airplanes traveling there, so i'm sending positive thoughts their way! i'll keep you posted on any news as i hear it.
the big picture has an early set of photos from chile.
UPDATE: aside from some power outages and lack of communication soon after the earthquake, no major telescope facilities have suffered damage. the ESO facility in santiago reports no damage. the university in concepcion is another story... news from colleagues is that people they know working in concepcion have relocated to stay with friends in other cities (mainly santiago) until the infrastructure is fixed a bit. read more at SarahAskew.