Africa’s super telescopes ‘will inspire science boom’

Science and Stars

By Oliver Joy

(CNN) — Under a clear night sky on a rocky arid outcrop, South African astronomers are waiting for the stars to come out and play.

Sightings of faraway galaxies, black holes and the Milky Way are just part of the job for the starwatchers at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

“The site is in an ideal location because there is very little light pollution so the skies are extremely dark,” said Nicola Loaring, an astronomer at SAAO. “We don’t get extreme seasons here, so it’s good conditions for our research all year round.”

Based in Sutherland — a four-hour drive from Cape Town — the observatory is home to one of the largest single optical telescopes in the world and is symbolic of South Africa’s growing commitment to astronomy.

The appropriately named South African Large Telescope is the jewel of the observatory, capable of detecting a…

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