SA Astronomical Observatory officially unveiled as a National Heritage Site

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As part of the facility’s bicentennial celebrations this week, astrophysicists and other delegates gathered at the SAAO’s site in Observatory on Tuesday.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: @HigherEduGovZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) has been unveiled as a National Heritage Site.

As part of the facility’s bicentennial celebrations this week, astrophysicists and other delegates gathered at the SAAO’s site in Observatory on Tuesday.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) officially declared the SAAO as a National Heritage Site in December 2018.

The oldest permanent observatory in the Southern Hemisphere is responsible for optical and infrared astronomy in the country.

The SAAO’s function is to conduct research in astronomy and astrophysics, with its main research telescopes situated about 15 kilometers outside the Northern Cape town of Sutherland.

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, said the facility also contributed to the region’s economy.

“Now the town has become a tourist destination with 14,000 and 15,000 visitors each year and over 40 B&Bs, providing a massive economic stimulus to both the town and region,” Nzimande said.

The minister also praised work done by the SAAO and Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), which observed the cataclysmic explosion of two colliding neutron stars.

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