The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is running a telescope naming competition for its new 1 metre telescope which is a recent addition to the collection of many national and international telescopes on our observing plateau near Sutherland in the Northern Cape.

The competition is open now till March 18 to learners in grade 6 to 12 countrywide; participants are encouraged to send their suggested names in any of the South African eleven official languages accompanied by a 60 word motivation stating why their name should be considered. “We are looking forward to the many exciting names that the learners will come up with, as well as meeting the winner of the competition at the telescope naming ceremony at Sutherland”, said Dr. Hannah Worters, an astronomer responsible for commissioning the new telescope.

The new telescope is the first South African optical telescope that will be remotely operable and potentially robotic, since the establishment of the SAAO observing location near Sutherland. It will be capable of taking images of areas of the sky seventy times larger than our existing 1m telescope. It uses the SHOC (Sutherland High Speed Optical Camera), a very high-speed camera which can take 70 images in one second to study rapid changes in star systems.

Our telescope operations manager, Dr. Ramotholo Sefako, says, “It is important to share our excitement about the arrival of this new telescope in some way with the rest of the South African community by having its name given by one of South Africa’s young learners.” He continued to say, “We also hope everyone will be as delighted about it as we are. Hopefully, a few school learners may end up being motivated enough to pursue careers in science in the future.”

The 1 metre will also be a teaching telescope mostly used by postgraduate astronomy students from South African universities to develop skills in observing, processing images taken with the telescope, where possible writing up results and publishing them in scientific journals, as well as acquiring technical expertise on aspects of operating a telescope.

Important information:

Competition is open to learners in grades 6 to 12 countrywide (South Africa).

Learner’s entry should be accompanied by a motivation (maximum 60 words); entries without motivation will not be considered.

Learners should include their full names, grade, name of their school and contact number in their entry.

For online click on this website: http://www.saao.ac.za/competition/ or post their entry by no later than 18 March to:

South African Astronomical Observatory
P.O. Box 9
Observatory
7935 

Prize: The winner and one parent or guardian will travel to Sutherland to attend the naming ceremony. The learner’s name will be inscribed on a plaque attached to the building that houses telescope. After the ceremony, the winner will be shown around the facility; if the weather permits she/he will get a chance to observe the spectacular Sutherland night sky using our visitor’s telescopes.

Contacts

  • Dr. Hannah Worters - astronomer responsible for commissioning the new telescope: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 023 100 0215
  • Dr. Ramotholo Sefako – Telescope operations manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 021 460 9344