Astronomy in Minas Gerais - a talk by Mike Frost
In early 2017 I spent several weeks working in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It's a mountainous state to the north of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and I was staying in the outer suburbs of its largest city, Belo Horizonte. I didn't get much time off, but managed to visit two places of astronomical interest.
Serra da Piedade is a remote mountain to the east of Belo. The mountain-top ridge contains a hermitage which is a popular place of pilgrimage for many Brazilians, and an observatory run by the Federal University of Minas Gerais.
The following week we visited the world heritage site of Ouro Preto, in mountainous country to the south-east of Belo Horizonte. This beautiful and historic university town was the site of a Brazilian gold-rush - in 1750, Ouro Preto was the most populous city in America, with twice as many people as New York. Today the Escola de Minas, the mining school, features an observatory for use by the people of Ouro Preto.
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