NOAO < NEWS < Oscar Saa, 1942-2013

In Memoriam. Oscar Saa 1942-2013.

Oscar Saa
Courtesy Brenna Flaugher

Con gran pesar, pero con gran respeto y admiración es que anunciamos la muerte de Oscar Saa, una piedra angular del personal CTIO. El liderazgo de Oscar del grupo de operaciones de telescopios durante más de 30 años, ayudó a establecer la reputación de larga duración de CTIO como una plataforma líder en el mundo para la observación astronómica, para los telescopios principales que él mismo ayudó a poner en marcha (como el Blanco de 4-m) y los proyectos más pequeños como GONG y PROMPT, que cuidaba casi como un padre. Oscar estableció un ejemplo para todo el personal, desde técnicos a científicos, no sólo con su dedicación, pero más aún con la actitud positiva, de poder hacer, que él siempre llevó a sus tareas, o a los retos que se enfrentaban.

Oscar se unió al personal de CTIO el 5 de enero de 1970 después de servir a su país durante varios años en la Fuerza Aérea de Chile. Fue contratado como Asistente de Observación del telescopio Lowell, pero pronto fue reconocido por sus contribuciones, y en 1978 comenzó a liderar el grupo de Soporte de Observadores de Cerro Tololo, poniendo el ejemplo de soporte de alta calidad para los astrónomos visitantes por lo que Tololo ha sido durante mucho tiempo conocido. A partir de 1982 y hasta el 2010, él supervisó la operación de todos los telescopios en Cerro Tololo, manteniendo algunos instrumentos de décadas de edad funcionando mientras lideraba la puesta en marcha de instrumentos de vanguardia tecnológica. Con sus 43 años de experiencia en Tololo, su conocimiento de todos los rincones de cada edificio era inigualable, y a menudo una función crítica a la hora de realizar tareas que sólo se realizan una vez cada década! Incluso después de que se jubiló el 2011, Oscar respondió a la llamada de volver y ayudar en los nuevos retos, ambos en la instalación de la Cámara de Energía Oscura en el telescopio Blanco 4-m, y en la instalación y puesta en marcha de los tres telescopios de 1-m del Observatorio Las Cumbres Red Global de Telescopios en Cerro Tololo.

Las contribuciones de Oscar y su impacto duradero van mucho más allá del ámbito de la gestión de operaciones de todos los telescopios en Cerro Tololo. Oscar fue mentor de varias generaciones de personal de CTIO, desde los operadores de telescopios hasta los científicos, e incluso varios directores. Su experiencia y sabiduría se correspondieron con su actitud humilde y amable, lo que hizo que su consejo fuera más fácil de solicitar y muy valioso de recibir. Por otra parte, Oscar tocó a generaciones de astrónomos visitantes en CTIO, enseñando a muchos estudiantes, postdoctorados, y profesores no sólo la ciencia, sino el arte, de la observación.

Oscar llevó su pasión por la astronomía más allá del personal de CTIO y astrónomos visitantes. Siempre estaba dispuesto a guiar a los huéspedes que visitan los telescopios CTIO y con orgullo les presentaba los impresionantes cielos del norte de Chile. Su entusiasmo se extendió más allá de los límites del observatorio a través de la participación en actos públicos y una amplia gama de actividades de astronomía amateur. Además, ayudó a establecer el primer observatorio municipal de Chile, Mamalluca, en su ciudad de residencia, Vicuña. Su trabajo allí plantó una semilla que se ha convertido en una gran industria del astro-turismo, actualmente no solo reconocida en la “Región de las Estrellas” (como se conoce ahora la Región de Coquimbo en Chile), sino también a nivel nacional e internacional.

Por sobre todo, Oscar fue un amigo y un pilar de la familia Tololina. Su contribución más duradera es el espíritu de servicio entusiasta mezclado con un sentido de la maravilla por la astronomía que él trajo consigo a CTIO, un espíritu que ha modelado a muchos de los empleados y a los visitantes que han pasado por CTIO en las últimas cuatro décadas.


It is with a heavy heart but a wealth of respect and admiration that we report the passing of Oscar Saa, a cornerstone of the CTIO staff. Oscar’s leadership of the telescope operations group over more than 30 years helped establish CTIO’s long-lasting reputation as a world-leading platform for astronomical observations, both for the primary telescopes he himself helped commission (like the Blanco 4-m) and smaller projects like GONG and PROMPT, which he looked after almost as a father. Oscar set an example for all of the staff, from technical to scientific, not only with his dedication but even more so with the positive, can-do attitude that he always brought to the task at hand or the challenges being faced.

Oscar joined the staff at CTIO on 5 January 1970 after serving his country for several years in the Chilean Air Force. He was hired as an assistant observer for the Lowell telescope, but was soon recognized for his contributions, and by 1978 he was leading the Observer Support group on Cerro Tololo, setting the example of high quality support of visiting astronomers for which Tololo has long been known. From 1982 until he stepped down in 2010, he managed the operations of all of the telescopes on Cerro Tololo, keeping some of the decades-old instruments running while leading the commissioning of instruments at the cutting-edge of technology. With his 43 years of experience on Tololo, his knowledge of every corner of every building was unparalleled and often critical when it came to performing tasks that only happened once every decade! Even after he retired in 2011, he answered the call to come back and help with the new challenges of both the installation of the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4-m telescope and the installation and commissioning of the three 1-m telescopes of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network on Cerro Tololo.

Oscar’s contributions and lasting impact go well beyond the realm of managing the operations of all of the telescopes on Cerro Tololo. Oscar was a mentor to many generations of staff at CTIO, from telescope operators to scientists, and even several directors. His experience and wisdom was matched with a humble and gentle demeanor, which made his advice all the easier to request and valuable to receive. Furthermore, Oscar touched generations of visiting astronomers at CTIO, teaching many students, postdocs, and professors not just the science, but the art, of observing.

Oscar carried his passion for astronomy beyond the CTIO staff and visiting astronomers. He was always willing to guide visiting guests around the CTIO telescopes and proudly introduce them to the sights of the stunning skies of northern Chile. And his enthusiasm extended beyond the boundaries of the observatory through participation both in public events and a wide range of amateur astronomy activities. He also helped establish Chile’s first municipal observatory, Mamalluca, in his hometown of Vicuña. His work there planted a seed that has grown into a full-blown industry of astro-tourism, now recognized not only in the “Region of the Stars” (as the region of Coquimbo, Chile is now known) but also at national and international levels.

Above all, Oscar was a friend and pillar of the Tololino family. His most lasting contribution is the spirit of enthusiastic service mixed with a sense of wonder for astronomy that he brought to CTIO, a spirit that has shaped so many of the staff and visitors who have passed through CTIO over the past four decades.

Chris Smith
Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
(Director 2008-2012)


Estoy emprendiendo un triste viaje a Vicuña para despedir a mi querido amigo Oscar Saa.

Como siempre digo, la muerte es parte de la vida, pero es tan dificil dejar partir a los seres queridos.

Oscar fue un gran compañero y amigo, me acogió con gran cariño cuando llegue a trabajar en este gran Observatorio. Siempre atento y llano a apoyarme en cualquier actividad que tuviese que realizar. Incluso en el último tiempo cuando ya estaba trabajando casi totalmente para Las Cumbres, acudió con gran entusiasmo a nuestro llamado de apoyo para la ceremonia de Dedicación de la DECam y para armar la muestra de los 50 Años de Tololo.

Te extrañaremos mucho querido amigo, y con mucho cariño, te dedico este video con un pequeño recorrido por tu vida en Cerro Tololo.

http://youtu.be/qN47D7VOaOE

Buen viaje compañero !!!
Leonor Opazo


Hoy nos hemos enterado del fallecimiento de nuestro amigo Oscar Saa. Es dificil imaginarse Tololo sin la presencia de Oscar, que llenaba todos los rincones del observatorio. El estaba presente en muchas de las actividades en la montaña, yendo desde atender a las visitas hasta asistirnos a los obsevadores con nuestro trabajo.

En lo personal, conoci a Oscar cuando yo era un estudiante, varios años atras. El entusiasmo que mostraba en el observatorio tambien lo seguia a la cancha de voleibol en el equipo de tololo a comienzos de los noventa.

Para mi fue un placer haberlo conocido y a nombre de la sociedad chilena de astronomia deseo explesarles a su familia y a AURA nuestras mas sentidas condolencias.

Felipe Barrientos
Presidente (s)
SOCHIAS


I have not visited Tololo in over a decade, but my memory of Oscar is still strong and warm. He was of course an able administrator, and extremely helpful to me, my colleagues, and the students who worked on the SHASSA project. But more than that, he was a cheerful, friendly man, and I thought of him as my friend. I loved his sense of humor. I'm not sure, but I think he was the source of the name El Enano for our 0.033 meter telescope. He sometimes called Wayne "el enano pequeño" and me "el enano grande". In return, I called him "el viejo" which I could get away with because I was even (always) older than he was.

I am glad I had the chance to know Oscar,. He will always have a special place in my heart and memory. Please convey my condolences and sympathy to his family.

John Gaustad


Susana:
I am sorry to learn of Oscar Saa’s death yesterday. Please pass along to the CTIO staff and to Oscar’s family Jay’s and my condolences. I always remember Oscar cheerfully running the mountain during observing runs. Oscar will be missed.

Jay:
The news makes me very sad. On my first observing trip to Chile I was “helping” another Astronomer use IR equipment on the 60 inch. Oscar was our might assistant. When the lead sulfide detector wouldn’t work after the dewar was inadvertently knocked off a table onto the floor, the other Astronomer couldn’t deal with the situation anymore and went to bed. Oscar helped me open the dewar and held a light while I soldiered the broken lead back on (they were very robust detectors, tho rather insensitive!). And we had an earthquake just as I was about to put tip of soldiering on to the lead! Pulled back just in time. But within an hour we had dewar cooled back down and back on the scope. The other Astronomer did get a good night’s sleep.

Susana Deustua
Jay Frogel


Conocí al Oscar la primera vez que me fui al Tololo. 1992. Desde ese primer viaje sabia que Tololo era muy especial. Pero, no fue hasta que moví al Chile en 1997 que realicé que Tololo era su gente y eso era la razón por que era tan especial. Y el Oscar era uno de los mejores de los mejores. Soy mejor yo para haberlo conocido.

Bob Blum


It is difficult to write a eulogy to Oscar because he had such a deep and wide ranging impact on CTIO and NOAO. To me, the personality of Cerro Tololo and why it was the greatest observatory in the world to work and observe at came from Victor Blanco and Oscar Saa. How many times did I go to the mountain to find everything working, and if not, have the CTIO staff help me fix the things that were needed before sunset? It was way too easy to take for granted the fact that Tololo was the best run observatory in the world and Oscar was the jefe. His warmth, sincerity, discipline, and humanity inspired all who worked around him. He was, in the very best sense of the word, a caballero.

Nicholas Suntzeff


Estimados Colegas

Oscar trabajo’ en lo que le gustaba hasta el final. El 2012-13 trabajo’ en la integracion y alineamiento del telescopio Las Cumbres. Durante el 2012 y comienzo del 2013 trabajo’ enseniando los secretos y entrenando en el uso de la planta de aluminizado del 1.5m, a D.Holck, R.Alvarez, N.Ogalde y a mi tambien. En Julio de 2013, a pesar de estar varios entrenados en el trabajo, dejamos que fuera el hombre grande el que hiciera el nuevo aluminizado del espejo secundario del telescopio V.M.Blanco, con lo cual comenzaba la instalacion de la configuracion faltante para tener completo y operativo el viejo buque insignia de CTIO. En su momento, dejarlo hacer el aluminizado fue’ solo un tributo al hombre de parte de sus colegas, nunca pense’ que llegara a ser tan significativo. Oscar Saa murio con las botas puestas y lo vamos a extraniar. Foto adjunta muestra parte del alegre equipo de aluminizado y fue seleccionada de los archivos de las secciones Optica y Mecanica del ETS.

• • •

Dear Colleagues

Oscar worked in what he liked right to the end. In 2012-13 he worked in the integration and alignment of the Las Cubres telescope. During 2012 and the beginning of 2013 he worked in showing the secrets and training D.Holck, R.Alvarez, N.Ogalde and me, in the use of the 1.5m coating plant. In July 2013, although three of us were trained, we nevertheless agreed to let the big man do the new coating of the secondary mirror of the V.M.Blanco telescope which marked the real beginning of the installation of the configuration that was pending to have the old CTIO flagship complete and operational again. At the time, letting him do the fine hand job of the aluminium deposition, was just a tribute to the man, because being retired he probably wouldn’t do it ever again. I never imagined it could become so significant. Oscar Saa died with his “boots on” as we say in Chile, and we will miss him.

The attached photo is part the happy coating team and was selected from the archives of the Optics and Mechanics sections of ETS.

saludos a todos
Roberto


That is very sad news. Oscar was a wonderful person and I always enjoyed talking to him. I am happy that I was able to spend some time with him during the dedication. I didn’t realize it would be my last chance.

(attached is a photo of a conversation with Oscar at the DECam dedication)

John Peoples


Oscar Saa was quite simply one of the finest persons I have ever met or worked with. What characterized Oscar was his combination of human decency and total workplace competence and commitment. To me he was THE spirit of Tololo. With staff like Oscar not even an irascible Director could screw things up. On the mountain, where tension could exist because of the rush to get things ready for nightly observations, Oscar never ever assumed a negative posture. An absolutely remarkable human being.

The most tense time for me ever at CTIO was the brief period every 2-3 years when the Blanco 4m was down for re-aluminization. I always made it a point to be up on the mountain because of the high risk procedure where the 4m mirror was removed from the telescope and transferred over onto the aluminization tank bed by lifting the mirror via the cable hoist and a small, insubstantial 3-point wiffle that was inserted via the Cassegrain hole. I had continual nightmares about the mirror crashing to the floor, requiring my phone call to Sidney Wolff (NOAO Director) and Goetz Oertel (AURA Pres) to inform them we had had a slight misfortune with the 4m mirror.

I would pace the floor constantly, making Oscar, Gale Brehmer, and Jorge Briones very nervous. Unnecessarily so, according to Oscar. Thus, on one such occasion Oscar come up to me, put his arms around me and told me that on a previous occasion during Victor’s directorship there had been a ‘slight’ temblor just before the hoist began to swing the mirror from the telescope support cell over to the aluminization tank. They considered this a very good omen, believing that a re-occurrence was not likely to interrupt the transfer procedure, and which gave them confidence that the Almighty was on the side of Tololo Operations! I damn near went non-linear.

Many more stories to share of Oscar, of course. A truly superior human being. What good fortune for those of us who had the opportunity to work with him and learn from his positive outlook on every aspect of work and life. His legacy is the legacy of CTIO—world’s finest observatory. Ever!!

Bob Williams


Oscar fue una persona excepcional, de mucha inteligencia, cordura, etica, habilidad, sencillez, y buena onda. Lo conoci durante mis primeras visitas a Tololo en 1971-1972, siempre presente y dispuesto, y trabaje frecuentemente con el durante mi epoca de astronomo residente (1973-1981) mas visitas posteriores, es decir durante mas de dos decadas en total. Lo aprecie mucho, y siempre sentia aun mas confianza cuando el estaba de turno, o como sucedio eventual y merecidamente, a cargo. Pensaba particularmente en el cuando solia decir, “los asistentes de Tololo son profesionales”.

Gracias y felicitaciones a la Sra. Opazo por el afectuoso y emotivo video. (El/la interesado/a puede encontrarme en la primera foto de grupo, arriba al centro.) Es un fiel reflejo de la alegria y la tristeza de la vida.

Nolan Walborn


Oscar really was a caballero, as Nick says. Tololo was never just an observatory operations machine, it was a group of individuals— scientists, engineers, technical staff, and operations staff—coming together and creating a great adventure. Oscar really embodied this spirit. He reminded us of Tololo’s history in ways that few others could, because he was there from the beginning. Here in an email from 1999:

Para la historia, Esta noche, 28/29 sept.1999 se cumplen 25 años de la primera vez que observamos una estrella con el telescopio de 4m. V.M.Blanco. John Graham fue el primer afortunado en estar “dentro” del P F Cage y tomo una placa 8x10 de NGC 6611 de tres minutos de exposicion. Quice compartir con ustedes esta noticia/recuerdo, ya tuve el privilegio de ser el primer operador de este querido telescopio.
Saludos
Oscar

PS NGC 6611 RA:18:17 y Dec: -13 32

Los primeros observadores, durante los primeros meses, fueron Graham, Blanco, Smith, Lasker, Osmer, Hesser …

He also reminded us, and sometimes admonished, that we should take care of and remember those people who had built what we were all working with and enjoying. Oscar’s era is ending, but I hope the stories live on for a long time, an that the Tololo spirit continues.

Knut Olsen


There’s not much I can add to what Nick just said, but CTIO is indeed the best observatory in the world. A trip there is not just a scientific adventure, but borders on a spiritual experience. And a lot of that is indeed due to Victor and the team he assembled, including Oscar and Arturo, Ricardo, Edgardo, Daniel, Klaus, and the rest of the mountain staff. The calendar doesn’t lie…it’s been more than 4 decades since I first observed on Tololo with Oscar…and those trips were among the great experiences of my life. Gracias Oscar!

Howard Bond


I knew Oscar from my visits to CTIO between 1978 and 1986. He was a great person. He was highly competent and a major contributor to the success of CTIO. Oscar will be missed.

Dale Schrage


It saddens me to hear Oscar’s passing. Oscar and his crew made CTIO the best and most friendly observatory. I have two anecdotes to share. First. I was extremely anxious on my first observing run at CTIO using the Fabry-Perot scanner for the first time, especially after a male previous user expressed doubt in a female graduate student’s doing a solo… When I arrived the mountain and told Oscar my worries. Oscar looked into my eyes and said “You can do it. No problem.” I was very grateful for Oscar’s total confidence in me, and he was right. Second. One night, the Fabry-Perot scanner got stuck at 5am, and the twilight had started. I called the technical support and 5 min later Oscar arrived with another technical person. They fixed the scanner in 10 min, and I observed the Carina Nebula for another 30 min until the sun almost rose. Oscar had always made his top priority to make sure that telescopes/instruments were in working condition for observers. We are all thankful to Oscar’s service to CTIO. Oscar will be sorely missed.

You-Hua Chu


It is with unimaginable grief that I learned of Oscar’s untimely passing. He was a key player in the success of the GONG program of NSO. Oscar oversaw the installation and operation of the GONG instrument at CTIO, and his enthusiasm for the program knew no limits. All issues were promptly dealt with and the expertise and dedication of Oscar and his staff were an enormous contribution. Now Oscar joins the other stars in the heavens. He is greatly missed.

Frank Hill


Oscar was a person that you could depend on and would always take the positive direction when it came to any type of support, observatory or other wise. He would sometimes tell me not to worry and that the (CLOC) has it under control. He was referring to himself as the “Chile Local Organizing Committee” and with that you would know all will work out. I will miss Oscar very much for his integrity and the way he made me feel like family.

Skip Andree


Por supuesto, Don Oscar and his team on Tololo were definitely an integral part of the GONG success on Tololo.

We have lost a great friend and Gongero. Gongero was an expression I first heard him use to refer to us all who strove to make the GONG a great success. My first experiences with Oscar and his team was a heartfelt welcome and joining with the astronomy community there in Chile. He and his team, in familial way, committed themselves to the GONG installation and subsequent operational phase of the GONG Network.

It is hard for me to accept the fact that he is gone. I will miss him dearly but, on the other hand, his contributions to Astronomy, and the GONG, will be long lived through his personal impact on the community.

¡Gracias, adios y abrazos Gongero Don Oscar!

Guillermo Montijo Jr.


Gracias querido Oscar, por apoyarnos también a nosotros, la comunidad de aficionados a la Astronomía y la Optica.

Gracias por tu generosidad y humildad, por enseñarnos, por compartir, por aluminizar nuestros espejos, por apoyarnos en los congresos y actividades, por haber sido impulsor y parte de nuestro particular grupo “Telescoperos Ricardo González”, donde el mismo Ricardo, tu gran amigo y colega, también fue fundamental.

Qué hermosas deben verse las estrellas!

Buen viaje.

claudio argandoña


Que bonita pagina dentro de lo penoso de haber perdido a Oscar. Y que bien quedo el texto que pusieron. Interesante que en los muchos mensajes se va reflejando una y otra vez el tremendo aporte que hizo Oscar -en lo tecnico cientifico pero tambien en lo humano- al Observatorio. Siempre me parecio notable que siendo el “jefe”, siempre fuese el primero en ofrecer ayuda con lo que fuese necesario. Si alguna vez se nombrara un “Mister Tololo”, para mi ese seria Oscar, como ejemplo y como amigo. Siempre equilibrando la correccion y competencia profesional, con la calidad humana y buen sentido del humor. Que suerte haberlo conocido y haberlo tenido como colega por tantos años.

Ricardo Schmidt


My deepest condolences to Oscar’s family. I’m grateful to them for sharing Oscar with us for so many years. His warm and gracious welcome to all observers on Tololo, and his calm and gentle approach to helping visitors and to solving problems created many lasting friendships. Visiting with Oscar was a highlight of every observing trip for me.

Generations of astronomers owe him a great debt, both for the success of their science programs and for establishing the qualities of friendliness and service that every observer came to expect at his observatory. Because, really, Oscar was Tololo.

Caty Pilachowski


This is very sad news indeed. I have wonderful memories of Oscar from my first trips to Cerro Tololo as a Stony Brook postdoc in 1972 and 1973. Dan Gezari and I had brought our submillimeter system to Tololo for our initial 350 micron observations from the southern hemisphere. Oscar was wonderful, taking a delight in interfacing this new and crude (by today’s standards) instrument to the 1.5-m telescope and helping us getting it working and on the sky. He seemed invigorated by the challenge of getting something new and different to work. Both he and Victor Blanco made me feel “at home” on my first trip to Chile.

On a later trip in 1975 with Fred Gillett and Gary Grasdalen to observe with one of the (single detector!) Kitt Peak InSb photometers on the newly-commissioned Blanco Telescope, Oscar was again instrumental in interfacing the instrument to the telescope and helping us get it functional. He was, however, unable to make the clouds go away, in spite of our requests. After our observing run, we had a few hours to kill before taking the shuttle to Santiago, so Oscar took us to the La Serena beach along with his family. I still remember the challenge of trying to play soccer on the beach barefoot. A wonderful human being who will be missed.

Dick Joyce


La iglesia Parroquial de Vicuña,está copada de personas que esperan el arribo de OSCAR MIGUEL SAA MARTÍNEZ. Provienen de diferentes organizaciones de la zona,preferentemente del Tololo,lugar en donde él colaboró por 40 años; muchos de ellos a todas luces eran de habla extranjera,lo que nos dice que Oscar no tuvo barreras, para cosechar amistades.

Entre esta multitud ,hacían presencia 8 camaradas de la Brigada Bristol de La Fuerza Aerea de Chile (Acevedo, Araneda, Gozález, Navarrete, Osorio, Robles, Torres y Vallejos).

Si bien en el ambiente era lógico percibir tristeza, algunos con lágrimas en sus rostros, por la partida definitiva de Oscar, más era la paz que se respiraba, como emulando la serenidad del cielo azul, limpio luminoso y cálido de afuera.

Terminado el ceremonial religioso,se leyó un mensaje de la Escuadrilla (Vallejos) y una exposición gráfica virtual de una compañera laboral de Oscar (Sra Leonor Opazo), cuyos contenidos han sido adjuntos a esta crónica.

Ubicado Oscar en el carro fúnebre, los asistentes en procesión (a pie), lo fuimos acompañando hasta el camposanto, en donde hubo nuevas alusiones a su vida y más que nada a su impronta, por parte de su hijo Oscar a nombre de la familia, de un amigo de la infancia y de su actual viuda sra Noni; de sus palabras dichas con mucha tranquilidad, recojo algunos conceptos como que Oscar fue un ángel en su existencia y ha sido la etapa de su vida, si bien breve, muy feliz y que ese regalo la acomparía de por vida.

Ya ubicado en el lugar definitivo,los asistentes nos fuimos retirando uno a uno, no sin antes entregar copia de la carta leida en la iglesia y la cinta fúnebre que adornó nuestra ofrenda floral.

Concluyo, por todos los conceptos vertidos hacia la persona de OSCAR MIGUEL, que estos no fueron producto de la buena crianza, sino de un real convencimiento de que él fue una persona EXCEPCIONAL, que dejó HUELLAS y bien en lo que atañe a mí, agradezco a la vida, por haber contado con su estima y consideración.

LA PAZ PERMANEZCA CON CADA UNO, EN ESPECIAL DE SU FAMILIA

Miembros Brigada Bristol, Fuerza Aérea de Chile

Eduardo Vallejos


I am greatly saddened to learn of Oscar’s passing. My association with him extended nearly 18 years during our mutual affiliation with the GONG Program. As colleagues, I found a great respect for him because of his knowledge, skills, ever helpful attitude and level-headed approach to problematic situations.

Perhaps more than this, I feel fortunate to have developed a friendship with Oscar away from the observatory. He invited me to his home several times to spend time with him and his family, who were clearly the source of great joy for him. My sincere condolences go out to Minelli and all others of his family.

On my last visit with them, Oscar took me to the place he was planning to build their new home. Oscar already had an extensive garden planted and he told me of how it connected him with his youth and about his fascination with how life can grow out of the earth. Perhaps my most vivid memory of Oscar will be of him, in his garden, proudly inspecting the fruits of his labors.

Ron Kroll


I really value the time I was able to work with, and learn from you. Gracias por todo.

Andrew Pickles


I remember meeting Oscar on my first trip to CTIO in 1996. The warmth and kindness Oscar showed me, a complete stranger then, was forever imprinted on my memory. In the years to come my path has intersected with Oscar’s from time to time during my various visits to CTIO. Every time Oscar showed that same warmth and kindness I saw the first time. To me he was the loving Papa Bear of CTIO.

Oscar, you will be sorely missed.

Peace…

Chuck Claver


I feel really sad due your departure. My mind only have beautiful memories, memories of many moments that we share as Familia Tololina.

You will always be my father at the cumbre, I miss all the time that we spent learning from each other (you were always right and I was always right too!). I will miss our long long discussions about astronomy, photography, mirrors, telescopes, politics, life, hippies, music, work and stupidity. I’m still following your advices oldtimer, see you soon my friend,

¡buen viaje!

José Velásquez


For 43 years, I have considered Oscar a personal friend, and one of the main reasons why I have always looked forward to coming back to Tololo. I can never forget a night in June 1970 when Oscar was my night assistant as I worked at the “No.4 16-inch”, as it was called. The weather turned cold, and the ink became viscous in the strip-chart recorder. Finally it stopped writing altogether. “So now what can we do?” I asked. “Spit on it” was Oscar’s reply. He showed me how to remove the pen from the recorder, touch the pen tip to my tongue, and reinstall it. It worked beautifully. By the end of the night my tongue was red was my data were secure. Ever since then I have had great confidence that Oscar would find a simple and practical solution to problems that might arise.

In preparing for my current run, I was concerned that CTIO could never be the same without Oscar. I needn’t have worried — it is clear that Oscar’s imprint on the observatory is here to stay.

Robert Wing


I am so sorry to read of Oscar’s passing. He was such a true gentleman, always with a kind word for everyone.

Polly Roth


Tuve el privilegio de conocer a Oscar siendo estudiante de astronomía. Siempre demostró ser una persona sumamente generosa, desprendido y amable. Su amor por su trabajo y por su lugar de trabajo, el observatorio Tololo, lo transmitía en cada conversación. Eso lo distinguía de manera sobresaliente, a parte de sus acabados conocimientos sobre los instrumentos.

Pero lo que más lo distinguió durante su vida fue su generosidad y su preocupación por la persona. Yo estuve muy enfermo hace un poco más de 10 años, y me sorprendió su preocupación y alegría la primera vez que lo vi después de estar enfermo.

Si bien Óscar ya no esta en cuerpo, su alma y su generosidad nos acompañara para siempre, porque permaneceran en la memoria de los vivos y su ejemplo perdurara para las generaciones presentes y futuras.

Gaspar Galaz


I was very sorry to hear that Oscar had left us. I met Oscar on my first trip to Tololo in 1985, and I last saw him a few years ago. We shared memories of another departed Tololino, Ricardo Gonzales, and I realized yet again how deeply Tololo and its people have become a part of my life. Rest in peace, Oscar.

Linda French


Oscar and I started two things at about the same time. Life – I was born two weeks before he was (1942). Time on the staff of Cerro Tololo – he started in January 1970, two months after me. Oscar spent his whole career at Tololo from that point on. It was reassuring to have his reply to my birthday wishes to him that I had sent early last May “lo he pasado muy bien, este año lo he cumplido viajando, conociendo lugares que siempre desee conocer”.

It is widely recognized that Victor Blanco and Oscar Saá represented the soul of the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. Victor was a true American – who understood so much about America – South America, Central America and North America. Oscar brought in the humanity of Chile, its spirit and his love of its nature at every level. It seems so appropriate that he served – proudly – as one of the Condors in the Chilean Air Force. The combination of Victor and Oscar has positively affected the lives of so many of us, including those who have added their words here.

Oscar also loved Vicuña. Without him and a few other marvelous people from Vicuña, we would not have Mamalluca and the appreciation of the night sky that it has passed on to people, young and old. I never forgot how an elderly lady burst into tears of emotion when she looked at the moon through the first Mamalluca telescope (set up for an event in the central square before any funding was obtained for the dome building). “I never thought I would see anything so wonderful in my lifetime”. One more person whom Oscar influenced so positively…

Many of us in those early days were able to help Oscar learn new things about CTIO (he and I spent many nights together commissioning and operating the Fabry-Perot interferometer that I had brought down from Kitt Peak). However, it was not very long before his generosity and commitment to the observatory became clear as we each realized Oscar was teaching all of us – about Chile, about the observatory and its nature. One night I asked him over the intercom from the 4m prime-focus cage what would he do if there was a major earthquake. His reply was to the point and with some characteristic humour – he would leave the control room immediately as there would be nothing practical that he could do for me up in the prime-focus cage. On several later occasions I was reminded of that conversation when the guide star suddenly started to shake in the eyepiece.

Malcolm Smith


It is hard for me to imagine Cerro Tololo without Oscar Saa. He was there when I first went to Tololo; he was there when I last visited. His advice was sound and gently delivered whenever you asked and his humor very Chilean.

An example of each: when I took my first 4 meter prime focus plate without opening the dark slide. And also at an young persons astronomy job fest in Santiago, “of course, there are jobs on Tololo, but you will have to kill us to get them!”

My condolences to all. We will miss him.

Jeremy Mould


Tuve la suerte de conocer a Oscar Saa Martínez desde el comienzo de mi Carrera profesional en el Observatorio hace ya 28 largos años cuando comencé a trabajar de manera part time, y mi primera impresión de él nunca vario, ya que aún cuando fue escalando y logrando grandes méritos profesionales en el fondo siguió siendo la misma persona que cobija, protege, ayuda y te guía para que puedas caminar tranquilo y seguro. Con el paso de los años lo más importante que aprendí de él fue el bien llamado “Espíritu Tololino” que se caracteriza por el enorme compromiso de todos quienes trabajan en el observatorio por dar siempre su mejor esfuerzo, por hacer su trabajo con excelencia, por entregarse en cuerpo y alma a su trabajo, logrando con esto brindar un servicio de calidad reconocido a nivel internacional, claramente él fue uno de los más grandes precursores he impulsores de esta forma de trabajar. Durante toda mi trayectoria profesional interactúe con Oscar en diversas actividades pudiendo aquilatar la gran riqueza de valores dentro de los cuales puedo mencionar: solidaridad, responsabilidad, Humildad y Honestidad. Resumiendo él siempre se esmeró por brindar un clima de respeto, tranquilidad y alegría, logrando con esto obtener de cada uno de nosotros lo mejor.

Para finalizar solo me resta dar las gracias por toda la ayuda y ejemplo recibo durante todo el tiempo compartido. Te deseo una hermosa travesía hacia las estrellas donde seguro brillaras con luces propias y confió en que Dios me regalara la oportunidad de volver a compartir contigo. UN FUERTE ABRAZO Y UN HASTA SIEMPRE QUERIDO AMIGO OSCAR.

Rodolfo Cardemil Aste


I echo everyone's remembrance of Oscar as a gentle and supportive soul. He was always ready to help in any way needed. CTIO and all of us were fortunate to have known and worked with him.

Karen Kwitter


I had the pleasure of running the southern 2MASS telescope program in June, 2000 at CTIO. Oscar was the first staff member to find and welcome me the day I arrived. He loaned me his personal tripod for nighttime photos of the mountain domes, after mine broke. He also saw me the day I left, as this image shows him is his office. My vivid memories of CTIO are based on his gracious welcome, and kindness.

Jim Young
Retired NASA/JPL Astronomer - Table Mountain
(1962-2009 - 47 years)

http://www.youngsphotogallery.com



Oscar

Fuiste de esas personas que sin quererlo dejaste huella en nuestras vidas, nos invistaste a soñar y descrubrir el cosmos,nos apoyaste cuando nadie mas lo hacía y nos has dejado el desafio deseguir con esta labor.Antes heramos pocos,ahora somos muchos los que compartimos tu sueño de llevar la astronomia hasta los mas reconditos lugares de Chile, y no te quepa duda que cada vez que veamos hacia el cielo tu luz nos acompañará

Alvaro Boehmwald R
Artemio Huenuqueo
Brian Molina
Felipe Gonzalez
Carolina Rebolledo
Tommy Avalos
Jaime Wall
Jennifer Gutierrez

y los que vendran

Centro Astronomico Ojos del Sur
C.A.O.S


Share your memories of Oscar Saa.