MeerKAT radio telescope inaugurated in South Africa – reveals clearest view yet of the centre of the Milky Way galaxy
SARAO celebrates the successful completion of the SKA Telescope Manager Critical Design Review
The General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union to be hosted on African soil for the first time in 2024
SKA in South Africa was highlighted during the Chinese State visit – identified as vehicle for diplomacy and development
Minister Pandor opens new road to Losberg site, meets with residents of Carnarvon and surrounding communities
US Embassy members visit Losberg and Carnarvon
European Union delegation visits SARAO Cape Town office
First cohort of SARAO-sponsored Northern Cape matrics progressing well at university
2017 SARAO bursary beneficiaries progress to second year of tertiary studies
Students from African countries complete third HartRAO AVN training school
Public participation process underway for the development of the Park Management Plan for the new proposed National Park in the Karoo
MeerLICHT telescope inaugurated
SARAO hosts Minister Kubayi-Ngubane and members of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee at Losberg
SARAO hosts Community Information sessions in the Northern Cape
South Africa’s initialling of the SKA Convention and Protocol texts takes place in Rome, Italy
Astronomy in South Africa is profiled at the IAU GA 2018 in Vienna
SARAO staff member leads 2018 NRAO NINE Program
Dr Bernie Fanaroff acknowledged by National Research Foundation by Lifetime Achievement Award at NRF Awards 2018
HartRAO instrumental in the successful adoption of the Third realisation of International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF-3)
Chinese Vice Minister for Science and Technology visits SARAO offices
Ghana and South Africa celebrate first success of African network of telescopes
Joint media statement on the outcomes of the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Square Kilometre Array African Partner Countries
Breakthrough Listen to incorporate the MeerKAT array in its existing search for extraterrestrial signals and technosignatures
Servitude establishment program
Latest developments on the land acquisitions programme
SARAO Human Capital Development Programme – Creating excellence in radio astronomy
SARAO Tech News
MeerKAT radio telescope observes a rare burst of activity from an exotic star, demonstrating outstanding capabilities as a new instrument for scientific exploration
Ghana marks first spot on the AVN
Standing on the shoulders of giants: a South African’s contribution to global radio astronomy
HERA: Building to view the past
Across the Globe
SKA prototype dish assembled for the first time
First SKA-Low Prototype Station completed on site
SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful
Paving the way towards the SKA: astronomers detect signal from the first stars
Spain joins the SKA Organisation
New platform to showcase SKA’s major engineering progress
SKA treaty open for initialling
SARAO Science Engagement
RD9 Solutions: Introduction to Robotics
DST Mini Science Forum ignites conversations about big science
SARAO participates in Science Centre World Summit 2017
SARAO participates in third Science Forum South Africa
SARAO/SKA SA hosts DST Mini Science Forum in Northern Cape
Scifest Africa 2018
SARAO and Oculus announce partnership
SARAO wins Best Workshop prize at Scifest Africa 2018
NASA Electrical Engineer visits schools in Sutherland
SARAO participates in Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference in Dunedin, New Zealand
Participants graduate from Phase 1 of MAPPP NINE
SKA AVN MAPPP NINE Development Lab
MAPPP NINE expands to SKA AVN
IAU CAP 2018
SARAO participates in EuroScience Open Forum 2018 in Toulouse, France
National Science Week 2018
SARAO hosts 2018 SAASTA National Schools Debates Competition in the Northern Cape and North West
SARAO Big Data Africa School 2018 kicks off
Carnarvon High School teams through to National Competition of World Robot Olympiad 2018
SARAO Big Data Africa School 2018 ends on high note for African students
SARAO staffers shine at INCOSE SA 2018 conference
Five SARAO electrician trade artisan students attend media training in Carnarvon
SARAO Junior engineer wins Best Poster Presentation at UCT Engineering Research Expo
Dr Bonita de Swardt presents at plenary session at Grand Challenges Partners meeting in Kenya
SARAO bursary holder wins first prize in AT-RASC student paper competition
Dr Aletha de Witt elected to the IAU commission on astrometry
Dr Rob Adam inducted as a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering
SARAO bursary funded students selected for 2018/19 CSIRO scholarship
Junior Science Process Developer wins Thomson Reuters Award
Brendan Swarts – Electrician Artisan student
Morgan Daba – Electrician Artisan student
Marthinus Steyn – Telescope Operator
Griet Tobias – Housekeeper
Jan Mouers – General Worker
Mathakane Molewa – HERA Construction Supervisor
Malissa Pietersen – Procurement Officer (Site)
Lourencia Lyon – HERA General Worker
Peter van Wyngaarden – HERA General Worker
Bradwin Vermeulen – HERA General Worker
Tyrone Adams – HERA General Worker
Levurd Vaarland – HERA General Worker
R. Sean Oliphant – Mathematics teacher at Carnarvon High School
Astronomy in South Africa is profiled at the IAU GA 2018 in Vienna
SARAO News #02 2018
The International Astronomical Union General Assembly in 2024 (XXXII IAU GA) will be held in Cape Town; the first time that the GA will be hosted on the African continent. The announcement was made at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly held in Vienna, Austria from 20 – 31 August 2018.
The bright red and orange hues of the Galactic Centre radio emission panorama have been catching the eyes and imaginations of visitors to the IAU since it commenced on 20 August 2018.
The stand for the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory (SARAO) was positioned directly next to the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) to demonstrate the multi-wavelength astronomy applications and research that is being done in South Africa.
The two Galactic Centre displays were the pride and joy of the SARAO stand where MeerKAT took centre stage, vividly depicting the first radio image to be released using the 64 antennas (or dishes) of the recently inaugurated MeerKAT telescope array. This is the clearest view of the Galactic Centre to-date (using additional information obtained with the Green Bank Telescope, courtesy of Bill Cotton, NRAO) and gives us a novel look into the extreme phenomena occurring at the centre of our Galaxy.
Covering a field of view of 1 degree by 2 degrees (corresponding to an area of approximately 500 light-years by 1000 light-years), it shows several never-before-seen features as well as an in-depth look into familiar features such as radio filaments and supernova remnants. This image is also simply visually stunning. For these reasons, it has already been featured in several talks during the General Assembly, and the data underlying it promises to be at the forefront of many future scientific discussions.
The MeerKAT radio telescope facility consists of 64 antennas nestled within the beautiful expanse of the Karoo in the Northern Cape, South Africa. On 13 July 2018, a high level delegation (which included the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr David Mabuza and members of the SKA Board) and the media world were present at the official launch of the 64, 13.5-metre wide dishes, where the Galactic Centre image was unveiled.
Commissioning of the telescope continues, while some of the already approved Large Survey Projects have started doing their science, studying radio emission from transient astrophysical events (the ThunderKAT project), and the star formation history of the Universe (MIGHTEE). Development of new capabilities on MeerKAT continues. Eventually, MeerKAT will be incorporated into the mid-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, and will be combined with 133 additional updated antennas across a maximum baseline of 150km.
MeerKAT itself is one of several radio facilities that fall under the umbrella organisation SARAO, a National Facility of the National Research Foundation of South Africa. In addition to MeerKAT, and South Africa’s involvement with the SKA, SARAO also incorporates other major radio astronomy facilities in Africa, including the KAT-7 telescopes in the Karoo, the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) in Gauteng, and the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry (AVN) programme that consists of involvement from an additional eight African countries.
One of the major outreach challenges that the SARAO team is currently facing is the need to increase the exposure and popularity of the MeerKAT facility without compromising sensitive scientific requirements by having guests visit our radio-protected sites. A solution: visitors to the SARAO stand are able to take a 6-minute virtual tour of the MeerKAT facilities using Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets.
A powerful and fully-immersive experience, SARAO’s been using its VR headsets as educational tools across South Africa in order to transport local communities of school children and adults alike to the MeerKAT facilities in the remote Karoo location. Furthermore, the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) and the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town, has started to explore the 3D visualisation of South African astronomy facilities and the large data sets they produce within the 360 degree full-dome space of a digital dome planetarium.
Recently, the IDIA held a media event at the Iziko Planetarium that unveiled previously unpublished astronomical images from MeerKAT and its optical complimentary instrument, MeerLICHT. It is ground-breaking visualisation methods such as these that will inspire a new generation of South African astronomers.
The Galactic Centre display at the SARAO exhibition stand is exciting, not only for the scientific value it represents but also for the promise of future science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) advancements with MeerKAT. Not only does the MeerKAT project reveal the potential for South Africa to be at the forefront of world-wide STEMI research within well-established communities, but it also exposes the exciting advancements of traditionally under-represented groups as well.
Indeed, just last week, the Vice-President of Executive Committee for the IAU and South African-Dutch astronomer Professor Renée Kraan-Korteweg was awarded the South African Department of Science and Technology Minister’s Special Award in the field of Astronomy: the Commemorative MeerKAT Award. Furthermore, SKA Phase 1 is expected to start commissioning in 2024 tying in, somewhat serendipitously, with Cape Town’s South African bid to host the IAU General Assembly in 2024.
Big Data Attendees at the one-day work session which was held on 11 July 2017 at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in Ghana to kick off the High Performance Computing training programme in Ghana.
Last Updated on November 19, 2018