The North-West University’s Mahikeng Campus has been become the first historically disadvantaged institution in South Africa to develop an observatory for astronomy research.


The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubani, will launch the Mahikeng Astronomy Telescope (MAT) at the university on Friday, 07 September, putting the institution on a par with developed institutions such as the Universities of the Western Cape and Cape Town.


The MAT is co-funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and is an effort to develop astronomy and related sciences at historically disadvantaged universities. It also demonstrates the country’s growing capabilities in the field, led by world-class projects like the building of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, which is exciting the global scientific community.


The MAT programme is led by Prof. Thebe Medupe who started astronomy in the physics department of the university in 2010, attracting students and postdoctoral fellows to NWU.


Currently the Mahikeng physics department has four astronomers with PhDs, one student completing his PhD and two space scientists, as well as many other physicists. Several top astronomers have also been to the campus to do research, demonstrating that the programme has potential for further growth.


The telescope is a 16-inch Meade LX200 GPS, which is housed at the Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory. It will be operated remotely, which will allow learners and educators to access it from anywhere in the country, making the MAT a powerful teaching tool. 


The telescope will be used for bright star research 60% of the time, allowing astronomers at the Mahikeng campus to study the interiors of stars, and their evolution. It will also be used for outreach purposes in communities and across the country as it can be operated remotely.


The media are invited as follows:


Date:       Friday, 07 September 2018 

Time:       09:00 – 13:00

Venue:     North West University – Mahikeng Campus


Issued by the Department of Science and Technology and North-West University


For more information, please contact Veronica Mohapeloa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 083 400 5750 or 012 843 6788 or Phenyo Mokgothu at 076 687 9250 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.