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TOPIC: Salt First light


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South African Astronomical Observatory
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Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has been challenged by the DA to appoint a new director of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) as a matter of urgency.
The outgoing director, Professor Phil Charles, who has been in South Africa for seven years, vacates the post in September. He will return to the astronomy chair at Southampton University in the UK that has been held open for him.
Charles was fully exonerated in a disciplinary hearing after a disagreement with his employers, the National Research Foundation (NRF), last year. The failed charges against him have not been made public, despite his request for this to be done.

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Southern African Large Telescope
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Telescope Time Applications

In keeping with its role as the National Facility for optical/infrared astronomy, SAAO makes telescope time available to qualified astronomers in South Africa and SALT partners. A certain percentage of time is also granted to astronomers from around the world, to promote scientific and technological collaboration and to promote the exchange of ideas and information. Availability of observing time is advertised under Rota. Time allocations will be made on the basis of scientific merit and feasibility. Prospective applicants for observing time should consult the pages for the telescope(s) and instrument(s) they may need to use.
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RE: Salt First light
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South African astronomy is set to receive a major boost, in the form of R100-million, ultra-high speed broadband link between the remote Northern Cape sites of the Southern African Large Telescope and Square Kilometre Array and the SA National Research Network backbone in Cape Town.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has selected a Neotel/Broadband Infraco partnership to install the 10 gigabit per second fibre-optic link. The SA National Research Network (SANReN) backbone is an undertaking of the CSIR's Meraka Institute.
The ultra-high speed link will enable local and international researchers to process data from the Southern African Large Telescope and the Karoo Array Telescope in near real time, and significantly boost South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

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SALT gets fast broadband

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has made R64 million available to the South African National Research and Education Network (Sanren), for the construction of an Internet broadband fibre-optic link to the national fibre-optic backbone.
This follows long funding negotiations between stakeholders last year, after Telkom demanded R36 million to connect the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) to Cape Town.

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This area has some of the clearest, darkest skies in the world, and is home to the South African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, opened in 2005, with a mirror 36 feet in diameter. Sutherland is considered the most geologically stable place on earth, yet has a 66 million year old volcano not yet officially declared extinct. Along the town's main road, Planetarium Highway, stone plinths were built to scale depicting the solar system's planets relative to the size of the sun, and showing the distances between planets.
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It can see to the edge of the observable universe. It can peer back in time to the aftermath of the Big Bang. Just don't ask it to send the secret of creation by email.
The R332m (25m) Southern African Large Telescope (Salt) is an internationally renowned science facility with everything but fast broadband. Its astronomers have found download speeds so slow that they are forced to send their cosmic findings by road.

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Salt Observatory
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The latest issue of SALTeNEWS has been released (October 2009)

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Southern Africa Large Telescope
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Date:
South African Astronomical Observatory
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The South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland opens its doors to the public for the entire night of New Years Eve 2008!
For the first time in the long history of the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland, members of the public will be allowed access to the telescopes (including the world famous Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT) in this otherwise restricted research area for one entire night new years eve 2008! As word of this decision leaked out, astronomy enthusiasts from all over the country, recognizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, have already begun planning their trips to this small town in the Northern Cape, which has for a long time carried a "stellar" reputation.

"We have decided to go ahead and dedicate the use of the observatory on the night of 31st December 2008 to a public event in Sutherland. This is in recognition of the significance of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and the importance of encouraging and enhancing the public's participation in astronomy" - Prof Phil Charles, director of the observatory.

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