17 October 2012 by Ems Tsotetsi

Africa’s Giant Eye

When visiting the Northern Cape, make sure you make your way to the Southern African Large Telescope – the largest single-optical telescope in the southern hemisphere.

Image courtesy the SALT Foundation

The universe holds many secrets, and no, I’m not talking about other life species, should you believe they exist. I’m talking about what our eyes fail to see ... and with a little help from the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) near the small town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape, some of these mysteries are explained.

This telescope can detect the light from distant objects in the universe that are a billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye.

SALT gives astronomers the opportunity to study and analyse the lifecycle of stars, as well as other interesting features of our galaxy. The 11m telescope is referred to as 'Africa’s Giant Eye' and can record distant stars and galaxies.

Tours of SALT are available, and include guided walks through its visitor centre and information on selected research telescopes. Visitors will also get a chance to see stars and galaxies that cannot be seen with a normal telescope by using telescopes adjacent to the visitors' centre. Tours need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.


Image taken outside SALT. Image courtesy Bruno Letarte


Visitors will get a chance to see the primary mirror of the telescope. Image courtesy Bruno Letarte




For more information:

  • www.salt.ac.za
  • South African Astronomical Observatory: + 27 (0)23 571 1413

Category: Attractions

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