A multinational group of astronomers has discovered what might be the brightest nova (a luminous stellar eruption) ever observed. This mighty eruption was first detected on 14 October 2016 by the MASTER-instrument in Argentina. Since then it has attracted the interests of astronomers around the world, who have pointed their ground-based and space telescopes in an attempt to understand the different aspects of the eruption.
A Sutherland based robotic telescope, KELT-South, spotted an extrasolar planet, KELT-10b, during its routine observations. KELT-South (Kilodegree Extremely Small – South) is dedicated to the search of transiting planets orbiting especially bright stars.
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Foundation and South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) are delighted with the success of the SALT Science Conference 2015 held in Stellenbosch from the 1st to the 5th June. The programme was jam-packed with talks, poster presentations, practical workshops and discussions showcasing SALT’s capabilities. Over ninety astronomers and education professionals attended the conference representing over twenty nationalities.
In the early hours of the 7th April, an un-manned robotic telescope, MASTER-SAAO, situated near Sutherland in the Karoo, discovered a new comet. This is the first comet to be discovered in South Africa since 1978. The Russian – South African run telescope has been scanning the southern skies since it began operating in late December 2014, looking for “transients” – new objects which appear in the sky for the first time. Since then, over 60 new objects have been discovered, most of them being erupting or exploding stars.
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland will be abuzz with excitement and celebration on February 4-5 as SAAO hands over the 0.5 and 0.75 metre telescopes to their proud new owners, the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) and the University of Free State (UFS), Boyden Observatory, respectively chosen by the SAAO as having provided the best motivations for why the telescopes should be donated to them.