SALT and stargazing in Sutherland

Posted on Fri September 18, 2015.

Sutherland is a stargazer’s dream. Its clear, cloudless and pollution-free night skies along with its high elevation above sea level make it a prime destination for admiring the universe and its wonders.

Here you’ll find the South African Astronomical Observatory, which houses the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, SALT (South African Large Telescope).  This mammoth device consists of a primary, hexagonal mirror 11 metres wide made up of 91 individual hexagonal mirrors, each one metre wide and weighing about 100kg.

The telescope is so sensitive that it can spot a candle flickering on the moon. It spends its nights scanning deep space recording the scale and age of the universe, stars, galaxies and quasars billions of light years away.

You too can probe the heavens—though admittedly your range is limited to only a few thousand light years. You can set up your own telescopes at the visitors’ centre

Another option is Sterland: a privately owned and managed establishment. The two hour show begins with an indoor presentation, where all the constellations and planets are explained, before heading out to gaze at the night sky, armed with celestial knowledge. Contact Jurg on 082 556 9589 to book your spot.