The Observatory


The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is the national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa. It is a facility of the National Research Foundation under the Department of Science and Technology. Its prime function is to conduct fundamental research in astronomy and astrophysics by providing a world-class facility and by promoting astronomy and astrophysics in Southern Africa. The SAAO headquarters are in the suburb of Observatory in Cape Town. The main telescopes used for research are located at the SAAO observing station near Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

This is also where you will find the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT).

There are daily guided tours to the Observatory 18 km out of town consisting of displays in the visitors centre followed by taking a look at the inside of the majestic SALT telescope. The guides do a superb job.

It is vital to make a booking at SALT by calling 023 5712 436 to make a booking at 10h30 or 14h30 Monday to Saturday. Only a limited number of persons are allowed. On Saturdays there is also an additional hourly tour from 09h00 to 15h00 to cope with the number of visitors.