The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) will be celebrating two centuries of excellence in astronomy on Tuesday, 20 October.

South Africa's oldest scientific site, the Cape Town Observatory, now part of the SAAO, is 200 years old this year. As the oldest permanent observatory in the Southern Hemisphere, it has played a significant scientific role over time and was declared a national heritage site in 2018. 

SAAO was formed in 1972, combining the Cape Town and Johannesburg Observatories.  Its main research telescopes are located a site 15 km from the small Karoo town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape.  This site, 1 800 metres above sea level, hosts 24 telescopes of various sizes and forms, some owned by SAAO and some hosted for international research institutes.

SAAO, a research facility of the National Research Foundation, which is an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation, is responsible for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa and provides local and international scientists with world-class facilities and access to our country's exceptionally dark skies.

The Cape Town site is not only of scientific significance but international cultural significance.  For instance, the McClean Building, which houses the McClean Telescope erected in 1896, was designed by the renowned architect Herbert Baker.  The observatory also has many artefacts of historical significance, such a speculum mirror and six chronometers manufactured in the 1800s.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, will be joined by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, and the South African Heritage Resources Agency in a virtual celebration of this convergence of our science, arts and culture heritage.

DETAILS OF THE EVENT:

Venue:   Virtual

Date:       Tuesday, 20 October

Time:       10:00 to 12:00

RSVP by using the link below:

https://www.saao.ac.za/2020/10/13/the-bicentenary-of-the-south-african-astronomical-observatory-saao-and-the-unveiling-of-the-saao-as-a-national-heritage-site/

For more information contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or Thabang Setlhare at 072 659 9690.

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