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LOCAL TIME: 04:52 pm | Wednesday, 21 February
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Sutherland Observatory and SALT, Northern Cape Karoo

The centre-piece of the Sutherland Observatory, or South African Astronomical Society Observatory  (SAOO) at Sutherland, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest and most powerful single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. It has a hexagonal primary mirror array 11 metres across, comprised of 91 X 1.2m hexagonal mirrors and it can detect light from objects in the Universe 1 billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye. SALT could see a candle flame on the moon.

The Sutherland Observatory conducts tours for up to 20 people at a time. These must be booked in advance. Both day and night tours are offered, at R50 per person. Day tours can be an hour long basic tour or a more detailed 3 hour tour, and include a visit to SALT, while night tours involve outdoor observation of the brilliant night sky though dedicated visitor telescopes. In cases of inclement weather, visitors are shown a movie instead. Research telescopes are not accessible to the public at night.

Read more about SALT and book a tour

Getting there: SALT is situated just outside of Sutherland about 4 hrs drive from Cape Town. You may not approach the hill on which SALT is located at night by car. Contact SAAO as per the link above to book a tour and get directions from Sutherland.

More info on the quaint town of Sutherland More info on the Upper Karoo area



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