‘First of Its Kind’ Telescope Inaugurated In South Africa - Sundiata Tech

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

‘First of Its Kind’ Telescope Inaugurated In South Africa

Johannesburg -  A groundbreaking telescope was unveiled in South Africa on Friday, with scientists saying it will be looking at things that “go bump in the night” such as stellar explosions and merging neutron stars.

The MeerLICHT telescope – meaning “more light” in Dutch – was inaugurated in the Northern Cape Province to mark Africa Day as the continent breaks new scientific and astronomical ground.

“It’s the first of its kind in the world,’’ Daniel Cunnama, outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, where the telescope is located, said.

It is a fully robotic, optical telescope linked to sister telescope MeerKAT – also located in the Karoo semi-desert – that will scan the southern skies and help enlighten astronomers on the secrets of the cosmos.

“The telescope is able to see objects one million times fainter than are possible to see with the naked eye,’’ the observatory said in a statement.

The two telescopes “will be looking all over the sky for various objects, things that go bump in the night but you’re not really sure what caused them,’’ Cunnama said.

The project is the collaboration among the Netherlands, South Africa and Britain involving researchers from the Universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Amsterdam.

“MeerLICHT is also foreseen to play an important role in the astronomical education of people in southern Africa,’’ said Phil Mjwara, the Head of the South African Department of Science and Technology, at the inauguration.

(dpa/NAN)

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