Thursday, April 14, 2016

Large telescope, South Africa.

The South Africa Large Telescope near Sutherland in the Karroo. Source

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) near the Karroo town of Sutherland is the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. I've been there on a shoot once, a long, long time ago. I've flown over it many times on my way from Cape Town to Johannesburg but that doesn't compare with a close encounter. It is very impressive.
Writing these posts about Space has been quite challenging so far. What do you know about our universe, not much I'd wager even though you may think you know a whole lot. Doing research for these posts has really highlighted my complete ignorance but at the same time has enriched my appreciation for all the effort put in by others so that we may begin to understand our place in the cosmos.
So, what constitutes a LARGE telescope? Well to begin with, they are large, the Southern African one is one of the largest optical telescopes in the world with a mirror comprising 91 one meter mirrors and ending up with a diameter of about 11 meters. My house I had in Melkbos was 9 meters by five meters complete. That means I would be able to fit the whole house into the space of this mirror and have oodles of space left to have fun in, not that I think running around on this particular mirror would garner any applause from the staff there. :)
Why do we need to build these immense structures that just sit there looking up at the sky without blinking. Well one of the reasons has to do with the clarity and resolution of the images we get, way better than the expectedly small telescopes we have sent to space at great cost.
Another reason seems to be the speed at which things can be adjusted or repaired here on Earth as opposed to any space telescope, much quicker and much more cost effective.
Anyway, There are some links for you to go to, if you are interested, where you can see what these large telescopes are capable of. I've got work to do so I must go.
Have fun and may God bless you today, Geoff.


  1. That's a huge telescope...
    Hopefully, one day, I'll get to travel to that end of the country and see this giant structure.
    Writer In Transit
    Co-host assistant of Team Joyful Brigade.

  2. Hello Michelle.
    Yes it really is big and very impressive. For the past thirty odd years I've been involved in the film industry here in South Africa so I sometimes land up in the most amazing places, SALT being one of them. It really is a privilege to be able to go to all these wonderful places. Blessings, Geoff.