The European Southern Observatory has a long and close relationship with South Africa, dating back to the 1960s. first observing station, La Silla Observatory, was built in Chile, but the organization quickly realized that it needed a second site in the Southern Hemisphere to have a complete view of the night sky. In 1964, began a site survey in South Africa, and in 1969, it selected the Sutherland plateau as the site for its new observatory.
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) was already operating on the Sutherland plateau, and SAAO entered into a close partnership to build and operate the new observatory. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), which is the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of the most important instruments at the Sutherland Observatory.
has also played a major role in the development of South African astronomy. has funded scholarships and fellowships for South African students, and it has provided training and support for South African astronomers. has also worked with South African universities to develop new astronomy programs and to build new astronomy facilities.
The South African Memories project is a celebration of long and productive relationship with South Africa. The project includes a series of videos and articles that tell the stories of people and events that have shaped the history of astronomy in South Africa.
Here are some of the key highlights of theSouth African Memories project:
- The story of the site survey that led to the selection of the Sutherland plateau as the location for second observatory: The site survey was a challenging undertaking, as it involved transporting heavy equipment to remote and difficult-to-reach locations. However, the survey team was able to identify the Sutherland plateau as the ideal site for an observatory, due to its clear skies, dark nights, and high altitude.
- The construction of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT): SALT is the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and it has made many important discoveries, including the first direct image of an exoplanet and the first detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. SALT is a testament to the close partnership between SAAO, and it is a major asset to the South African astronomy community.
- The development of South African astronomy through scholarships and fellowships: has funded scholarships and fellowships for South African students to study astronomy at universities around the world. These scholarships and fellowships have helped to produce a new generation of South African astronomers who are making important contributions to the field.
- The training and support of South African astronomers: has provided training and support for South African astronomers through a variety of programs, including workshops, conferences, and summer schools. These programs have helped to develop the skills and knowledge of South African astronomers, and they have played a major role in the growth of astronomy in South Africa.
- work with South African universities to develop new astronomy programs and to build new astronomy facilities: has worked with South African universities to develop new astronomy programs and to build new astronomy facilities. This work has helped to strengthen the teaching and research of astronomy in South Africa, and it has made South Africa a more attractive destination for international astronomers.