The clear African skies are not only good for tourism, but have given South Africa a great advantage too, having made this country one of the big African and international players in the field of astronomy. The NRF has a number of facilities that aim to put South Africa at the forefront of space research and also drive science outreach in this area.
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
The SAAO is the national observatory of South Africa. It was founded as the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, in 1820 and the main building, now used for offices for the staff, was completed in 1828. There are various telescopes of historical importance on the grounds.
Tell: +27 21 447 0025
Fax: +27 21 447 3639
The South African Large Telescope (SALT)
SALT is the largest single astronomical telescope in the southern hemisphere, with a hexagonal mirror array of 11m across. The SAAO runs the SALT Collateral Business Plan which is a portfolio of programmes and initiatives that aim to improve science teaching and learning in schools, and to promote the training of the next generation of astronomers.
Tell: +27 23 571 1205
Fax: +27 23 571 2456
Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO)
The HMO functions as an active participant in the worldwide network of magnetic observations, which monitor and model vibrations of the Earth’s magnetic fields. It runs educator training and presents a series of workshops aimed at providing skills for effective science training. The HMO provided long-term internships to recently-graduated students and invited learners to participate in a discussion on the polar reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field. The HMO runs science outreach programmes directed at rural schools, with educator and learner workshops on Chemistry and Physics.
Tell: +27 28 312 1196
Fax: + 27 28 312 2039
Hartebeeshoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO)
HartRAO is the only major radio astronomy observatory in South Africa. It is located in the valley in the Magaliesberg hills, 50km west of Johannesburg. The observatory is also a research base for academic staff and tertiary education students from South Africa, and it actively promotes tours of its facilities to increase general public awareness and understanding of astronomy.
HartRAO is in the process of bidding to site the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a giant next-generation radio telescope being developed by scientists in 17 countries. South Africa and Australia have been shortlisted and if this country is successful (announcement planned for 2011), the SKA project will develop human capital for the science and technology aspects of the SKA telescope, as well as contributing to astronomical research and to school science support in the Northern Cape province where it will be situated.
Tell: +27 12 326 0742 / 0746 / 0747
Fax: +27 12 326 0756