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Story of astronomy in southern Africa
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Astronomy organisations and links

IYA 2009 South Africa
The home page of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) in South Africa! This is the official site for the IYA celebrations in South Africa and in neighbouring countries who may be looking for support. Watch this space in the buildup and planning for IYA2009.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009)
The vision of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. All humans should realise the impact of astronomy and basic sciences on our daily lives, and understand better how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society.

The Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO)
The HMO is part of an international network of magnetic observatories, which monitor and model changes in the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers at the HMO are also involved in studying the magnetosphere, which is the outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere. The HMO runs science awareness programmes for learners and offers presentations on space physics and guided tours of the HMO's facilities. There is also an interactive science centre and magnetometer museum.
Tel: (028) 312-1196 Fax: (028) 312-2039

Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO)
HartRAO operates a telescope 26 metres in diameter that can detect radio waves ranging in wavelength from 2,5 cm to 18 cm. The radio waves are emitted by many different kinds of objects in the sky, from atoms and molecules to neutron stars to galaxies. HartRAO has the largest steerable radio telescope in Africa, and it co-operates with radio telescope facilities on other continents. HartRAO also has a Space Geodesy programme, which operates global positioning equipment and a satellite laser ranger used to detect the position of satellites. HartRAO organizes workshops for educators to help them present astronomy-related topics in their own classes. Visits to the observatory are also organized for school groups and the public.
Tel: (012) 326-0742, Fax: (012) 326-0756

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
SAAO is the national optical observatory of South Africa, dating back to 1820, when the Royal Observatory was established at the Cape. The headquarters are in Observatory, Cape Town, and the telescopes are at Sutherland in the Northern Cape. At present there are various telescopes with mirrors ranging in diameter from 0,5 metres to 1,9 metres in diameter. The telescopes detect visible light and infrared radiation. A much bigger telescope (SALT) is currently under construction on the site at Sutherland. The SAAO Science Education Initiative offers astronomy workshops for educators. Members of the public can visit the SAAO in Cape Town on the second Saturday of every month at 20:00.
Tel: (021) 447-0025, Fax: (021) 447-3639. Visits to the telescopes at Sutherland can be booked through the Sutherland Tourism Bureau, Tel: (023) 571-1265.

Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)
SALT is currently being built at the SAAO's site at Sutherland, and will be the biggest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere when it is completed in 2005. By putting together 91 small hexagon-shaped mirrors, each 1 metre wide, SALT will have an effective diameter of 11 metres. It will be able to record light from distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame on the moon.

Square Kilometre Array (SKA)
South Africa is competing with other countries to host the SKA, a $1 billion international project to create an array of antennas for detecting radio waves that will cover an area of one square kilometer (about the size of 150 soccer fields). This area is 100 times larger than the biggest receiving surface that now exists. If South Africa wins this bid, the main part of the SKA will be built in the Northern Cape, with other parts distributed in Southern Africa. It will bring world class scientists to our country and the region.

High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS)
HESS provides an indirect way of detecting gamma rays from the universe. A gamma ray entering Earth's atmosphere interacts with air molecules and causes a shower of secondary particles which emit a faint blue Cerenkov light in the process. HESS consists of an array of four telescopes which can detect the intensity and direction of this light. More telescopes will be added later. HESS is located near the Gamsberg on the Khomas Hoghland, between Windhoek and Walvis Bay, Namibia. HESS is an international collaboration in which South Africa is a partner through Potchefstroom University.

South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE)
Antarctica, the southernmost continent on Earth, does not belong to any country, but several countries have bases there. South Africa has had an Antarctic base since 1962. Data gathered at SANAE are used to study the upper layers of the atmosphere in detail, especially the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. Information is also gathered about the ozone hole.

The CSIR Satellite Applications Centre (SAC)
SAC at Hartebeesthoek provides products and services related to the space industry and its applications. It can track and control spacecraft for clients using its antennas or help them set up their own antennas and tracking facilities. It also offers services related to getting, storing and using images of earth obtained from satellites. It has three main groups: Earth Observation; Ground Segment Services; and Information and Communications Technology Applications.
Tel: (012) 334-5000, Fax: (012) 334-5001

Sun Space and Information Systems (Pty) Ltd (SunSpace)
SunSpace designs and develops small and micro-satellite systems, and related support equipment and ground-based applications. SunSpace has its origins in the SUNSAT satellite programme of the University of Stellenbosch. SUNSAT, South Africa's first satellite, was developed completely by a local team of engineers, and launched in 1999 by the American space agency NASA. The team who designed and developed SUNSAT forms the core of SunSpace today.
Tel: (021) 880-8100, Fax: (021) 880-1703

Institute for Satellite & Software Applications (ISSA)
ISSA is based at the Houwteq satellite integration facility in Grabouw. It offers post-graduate qualifications in Engineering and Information and Communication Technology. Research conducted at ISSA includes satellite engineering, and excellent facilities are available for designing and testing small satellites.
Tel: (021) 859-7300, Fax: (021) 859-7324

Sentech uses satellites to deliver television and radio programmes to your nearest transmitter station from where it is broadcast to your home TV or radio. If you live in a remote area where there is no land-based television service, you can receive your SABC and e.tv services directly off Sentech's satellite service with a suitable satellite antenna and Vivid decoder. Sentech also uses its VSAT system to deliver Internet and other data services via satellite directly to schools and other institutions in remote areas of the country.
Tel: (011) 691-7000

Through its many satellite services (in addition to the undersea cable) Telkom touches the lives of every South African, from connecting us to the world to bringing news and sport to our television screens. Connecting businesses in remote areas, making automatic teller machines work, taking business application into Africa, Europe and the Middle East and fast Internet and telephones to rural South Africa are all part of Telkom SpaceStream product range.

Cape Town Planetarium
Inside the domed auditorium of the Planetarium in Cape Town, visitors are transported through the wonders of the universe - the ultimate in armchair travel! Their full monthly menu of shows and activities for all ages, as well as their astronomy courses, are very popular.
Tel: (021) 481-3900, Fax: (021) 481-3990

Johannesburg Planetarium
The Johannesburg Planetarium offers a variety of shows for small children, school groups and the general public, as well as astronomy courses. Special shows can be put together on request, and astronomical birthday parties can be arranged. It also supplies star-charts, telescopes, and other astronomy-related materials. A free e-mail service notifies subscribers of interesting sights in the South African night skies.
Tel: (011) 717-1392, Fax: (011) 339-2926

Boyden Observatory
Boyden Observatory has the third largest optical telescope in Southern Africa, a 1,5 m reflector and various other telescopes for educational purposes, including an excellent solar telescope. An observation platform is ideal for looking at satellites, astro-photography and open-air slide/data projector presentations. Boyden hosts open evenings for school groups and adults. A Science Centre is now being established at the site. It is located just outside Bloemfontein.
Tel: (051) 401-2924

Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA)
The Society is a body consisting of both amateur and professional astronomers.

Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite Association (SA AMSAT)
Radio amateurs use two-way radio communication to make contact with other radio amateurs all over the world. They are even able to use satellites and on occasion speak with astronauts. You too can become a radio amateur!

South African space portal
The South African space portal is your gateway to space science and technology in South Africa. The portal has been developed by the National Working Group on Space Science and Technology.

An initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)
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