The MeerKAT First Light image of the sky, released 16 July by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, shows unambiguously that MeerKAT is already the best radio telescope of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Array Release 1 (AR1) provides 16 of an eventual 64 dishes integrated into a working telescope array. It is the first significant scientific milestone achieved by MeerKAT, the radio telescope under construction in the Karoo that will eventually be integrated into the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The SKA is now publishing three newsletters, one for the general public, one for the stakeholders in the Northern Cape and the latest one SKA SA Tech News. This new one is at a more sophisticated level than the others and is aimed at those interested in the technology and astronomy of the SKA and MeerKAT.
On the evening of 15 June 1836 Charles Darwin had dinner with John Herschel in Cape Town. The year 2016 makes it 180 years ago that the event took place. Auke Slotegraaf and Chris de Coning decided that the event should be commemorated.
An international team headed by Prof N Matsunaga of the University of Tokyo has used the Japanese/South African IRSF telescope at Sutherland to survey Cepheid variables (which are relatively young luminous stars) in the direction of the inner part of the Disc of the Milky Way.
The 91 segments of the SALT primary need to be kept precisely aligned in order to obtain the best images. As is well-known, the initial alignment process uses a type of Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor in an auxiliary tower to send feedback to control the mirror actuators.
For four decades, the SAAO's 74-inch telescope has hosted a low resolution spectrograph at its Cassegrain focus. This workhorse instrument underwent various incremental upgrades over time as critical technologies, particularly astronomical detectors, have evolved. The earliest version of the spectrograph employed an image intensifier that fed a photographic plate. This was later replaced by a photon-counting system, which was followed by a pair of linear photodiode arrays known as the Reticon Photon Counting System. The Reticon was superseded in the mid 1990s when a 1798 × 266 CCD was introduced and that system remained in use until late 2014, when the instrument was taken out of service to complete an extensive, long-awaited upgrade. Given that the Observatory had threatened to replace the spectrograph optics since the early 1990s, one may rightly wonder why this latest incarnation took so long to materialize.
The Hermanus Centre (HAC) has recently constructed a true scale model of the solar system along the Cliff Path in Hermanus, stretching from the amphitheatre near the Old Harbour to the end of the Cliff Path at Grotto Beach. Equating the actual distance 3 867.133 m from the Sun model to the Pluto model to the astronomical equivalent of 5 907 171 120 km fixes the scale of the model.
These form an important part of a research facility, often as a sort of prepublication discussion or a discussion of an individual's current research, and as such it is virtually impossible to "publish" this material. However by recording the topics discussed in the form below does indicate to those, who are unable to attend, what current trends are and who has visited to do research: it keeps everyone 'in the loop' so to speak.
Also included in this section are the colloquia/seminars at the SAAO, UWC and the Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity Centre at UCT, ACGC. Also included are the SAAO Astro-coffees which are 15-20min informal discussions on just about any topic including but not limited to: recent astro-ph papers, seminal/classic publications, education/outreach ideas and initiatives, preliminary results, student progress reports, conference/workshop feedback and skills-transfer.
In antiquity it was believed that the strong man and hero Hercules shot off an arrow which is now commonly and popularly known as the Sagitta constellation. The constellation is located in the Milky Way, just off north of Aquila and south of Cygnus. The constellation, named during antiquity (and not to be confused with Sagittarius), was one of the smallest, at only 4 degrees wide, but in time, with revised demarcation, it has grown to nearly 10 degrees, which still, however, leaves it in the smaller category, but larger than the constellations Equuleus and Crux. Sagitta is also very faint, with no stars brighter than magnitude 3.7. It clearly resembles a dart shape, which in softer terms could also be described as the arrow of Cupid. And it does justice to its name because of the exceptional objects within it which are really pleasing to the eye.