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The eleven metre mirror under construction. THE UKSC AND SALT. 'Africa's Giant Eye'. Aerial view of Armagh Observatory. Why Astronomy?. The UKSC. International Collaboration.

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The eleven metre mirror under construction.



'Africa's Giant Eye'

Aerial view of Armagh Observatory

Why Astronomy?


International Collaboration

Astronomy provides a singular perspective on our place in the Universe, addressing fundamental questions such as the origin of the Earth, the origin of Life and ‘Are we Alone?’. Astronomical research – the principal function of the UKSC partners – plays an increasingly important role in modern society. As an educational tool astronomy attracts and maintains the interest of young people. It provides ‘clean’ examples of the use of science and technology, and contributes to a growing understanding of global environmental change. Modern astronomy is an involving, inspirational activity with a unique ability to spark the imagination and to attract young people towards science and engineering.

  • Six institutes across the UK joined to form the UK SALT Consortium (UKSC) and to provide funding to help build the SALT. The members of the UKSC are:

  • University of Central Lancashire

  • University of Southampton

  • University of Nottingham

  • Armagh Observatory

  • University of Keele www.astro.keele

  • Open University

International Partners in SALT currently include universities and research institutes in the UK, South Africa, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, and the USA

Digging in: VIP’s taking part in the ceremony signalling the start of SALT construction.

Collateral Benefits

The Southern African

Large Telescope


Scientists engaging in basic research contribute immeasurably to the intellectual vibrancy of society, contributing to a strong R&D base and providing conditions for that society to participate in, and sometimes lead, scientific and technological projects of global significance.

Flags of SALT partners at the ground-breaking ceremony near Sutherland.

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT ) is funded by partners all over the world and will be the largest single telescope in the southern hemisphere. With a hexagonal mirror array 11 metres across SALT will be able to record distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye – as faint as a candle flame at the distance of the moon.

• Increased Science Education and Public Outreach contributing to development of a more scientifically literate population

• Increased Creative Potential

astronomy sparks the imagination, rekindles ‘the ability to wonder’ ‘you become like a seven or eight year old again’

• High level Scientific Exchange involvement in joint international projects, puts the UKSC, SALT partners and South Africa on the international stage encourages co-operation and mutual understanding of cultural diversity

• Shared Cultural Heritage improved knowledge and appreciation of the UK and South Africa’s contribution to international astronomy

Scientific Benefits

Sutherland is an excellent astronomical site with good facilities. Together with SALT, it gives South Africa and its partners many opportunities to maintain and improve their position at the forefront of astronomy, space science and technology.

In particular, the new telescope will be used for studies of:

• Stars and Stellar Evolution time resolved medium-to-high resolution stellar spectroscopy and exploration of protostellar environments

• High-Precision Stellar Astrophysics spectroscopic signatures of binarity, stellar atmospheres and pulsation, chromospheric modelling

• The Sun and the Solar-Stellar Connection stellar flares, star spots, solar/stellar activity

• Solar System Studies medium-to-high resolution spectroscopy of comets, asteroids and trans-neptunian objects

Tracking assembly of SALT telescope.

3D model of the SALT telescope

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