Sutherland Tour

Since the early 1970s, the major telescopes of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) have operated on a hilltop 1 800 metres above sea level, near the Karoo village of Sutherland, about 360 km from Cape Town. The site was chosen for its good weather, semi-desert setting, absence of light and other pollution.

Today, the extraordinary clarity of Sutherland’s cloudless, pollution-free night skies and its high elevation above sea level makes it a prime star-gazing destination and the perfect site for the South African Astronomical Observatory.

The observatory houses the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT).  SALT is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world. It has a hexagonal primary mirror array 11 metres across, comprising 91 individual 1m hexagonal mirrors.

SALT is situated at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) field station near the small town of Sutherland, in the Northern Cape province, about 400 km from Cape Town. SALT is funded by a consortium of international partners from South Africa, the United States, Germany, Poland, India, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The telescope has been in full science operation since 2011 and is realising its huge potential as Africa’s Giant Eye on the Universe.

Night tours include the viewing of interesting objects in the sky through two dedicated visitor telescopes,

The observatory’s location was originally chosen to be within view of the Table Bay, the anchorage in front of the City, to permit the visual signalling of time to visiting ships.

The Texas 2017 Sutherland Tour will include a visit to the SALT and other telescopes on-site plus night viewing on Saturday 9 December.   SALT experts will be joining the tour on-site to answer questions.

Draft Itinerary:

Sat 9 Dec:  
Early Morning
Depart Cape Town to Sutherland
En-route or in Sutherland
Tour of centre and telescopes
Check in to hotel
Early dinner
Evening tour of SALT and night viewing with the visitor telescopes
Sutherland Hotel
Sun 10 Dec
Departs Sutherland
Estimated arrival 14h00
R2950 per person sharing
R3200 per person single
The price includes:
Accommodation and breakfast
Snack boxes en route
All drinks and other extras are for your own account.

Terms & Conditions:

Deadline for bookings and payments: 1 November 2017
Cancellations:  No refunds after 1 November 2017
Maximum no of guests:  25
Minimum no of guests: 6
Please note that final confirmation can only be done once 6 bookings have been confirmed. 


Robin Troupe
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