First-Light' for Africa's Giant Eye

First-Light’ for Africa’s Giant Eye: First Colour Images from SALT

Issued: 1 September 2005

Exactly five years after groundbreaking, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) project has released its first colour images, marking the achievement of ‘first light’ and the successful debut of full operation for SALTICAM, a $600 000 digital camera designed and built for SALT at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). SALT is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, and equal to the largest in the world. Gathering more than 25 times as much light as any existing African telescope, SALT can detect objects as faint as a candle flame on the moon. The sample images now released for the first time were taken during the camera’s first trial period of operation, which also achieved SALT’s first significant scientific results and showed details as small as a 1 rand coin 2 km away. SALTICAM will be important to research by all the partners involved in building SALT (National Research Foundation of South Africa; Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a consortium of 3 Polish universities, comprising: Jagiellonian University, Nicolaus Copernicus University, and Adam Mickiewicz University; The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Board (representing Georg-August-Universität Götingen, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit Müchen, Stanford University, The Pennsylvania State University, and The University of Texas at Austin); Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (USA); Georg-August-Universit Götingen (Germany); The University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA); University of Canterbury (New Zealand); University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (USA); Dartmouth College (USA); Carnegie Mellon University (USA); United Kingdom SALT Consortium (UKSC), comprising: the Armagh Observatory, the University of Keele, the University of Central Lancashire, the University of Nottingham, the Open University and the University of Southampton).

the Big think is

SALT is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere

somethink that Seti is missing to look at the southern hemisphere

for Info Arecibo is only looking at the north hemisphere

Sir Ulli

That’s cool about a new optical scope in the Southern Hemisphere. SETI runs on a radio telescope out of Arecibo, though. SETI data can’t be collected by optical scopes. I think they were hoping to use an Aussie radio telescope to look at the southern skies, but it doesn’t look like they’ve made much progress on that project.

I’ve been to see it, it’s absolutely awesome.