Things To Do in SutherlandSA Astronomical Observatory
Where? The turnoff to the SAAO is halfway into the town on the right (Fraserburg Road). About 14kms from Sutherland you will find the main gate. Pass through the gates and follow the road to the Visitor Centre.
When? Booking is essential. Monday to Friday at 10h30 and 14h30; Saturday at 11h30 and 14h30; no tours on Sundays.
How? Call +27 (0)23 571-1205
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, with a hexagonal mirror array 11 metres across. Although very similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, SALT has a redesigned optical system using more of the mirror array. It will be able to record distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame at the distance of the moon.
The construction of SALT has been completed, funded by a consortium of international partners from South Africa, the United States, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It is now in its commissioning phase.
From Monday to Saturday there are 2 guided day tours per day and 4 night tours per week. A maximum of 20 people are allowed per tour. Booking is essential.
Day tours entail a guided walk through the Visitor Centre as well as a guided tour of selected research telescopes including SALT.
Night tours entail the viewing of interesting objects in the sky through two dedicated visitor telescopes, 16" Meade and 14" Celestron. Note that visitors cannot visit any of the research telescopes at night, not even SALT.