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Inauguration of MeerLICHT Telescope

A new telescope has been inaugurated at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), near Sutherland, that will be an “eye of the MeerKAT radio array”, the country’s precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

MeerLICHT, which means “more light” in Dutch, is an optical telescope that will simultaneously scan the Southern Skies together with MeerKAT. This creates a truly unique combination where astronomers will always be studying stars and galaxies in two parts of the spectrum at the same time.

SAAO Observes First Optical Counterpart of a Gravitational Wave Source

Following on from the major global announcement in October 2016 on the discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart of a gravitational wave source, named GW170817, this new paper has just been published on observations undertaken at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), which are compared to the latest model predictions.  On 16 October 2017, the SAAO  together with many other observatories world-wide, announced the important discovery of the first gravitational wave source counterpart (see:

Dr Tana Joseph awarded Fulbright and Newton Fellowships

When we asked Dr Tana Joseph, an outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), during the August 2017 NRF Women’s Month celebrations which one of her academic achievements she was most proud of, she answered that she had just been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work in the US for several months. Little did she know that shortly after that, she would also receive a Newton Fellowship.

SALT helps study new nova 200 000 light years from Earth

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.

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A Sutherland Robotic Telescope Spots an Extrasolar Planet

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.

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The SALT Science Conference 2015

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.

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First South African Comet Discovery in 35 Years

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.

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