As mentioned earlier it was always on my bucketlist to visit SALT. Anelia booked us both for the afternoon and the evening tours.
SALT is 15km outside of Sutherland and the sky is so clear and the silence so overwhelming it is actually eerie.
After a short video about the power of ten we were taken to the top of the hill where we were shown around by our guide Willem Prins. He is a born and bred Sutherlander and worked his way up from construction worker at SALT to a tour guide. Very knowledgeable man.
He showed us the other 14 telescopes around SALT that belongs to countries as diverse as Poland, Korea, Germany, UK and the US.
There is also an area where on are not allowed to walk on since this is where seismographic readings are taken. Apparently this is the most seismographic stable area on earth. We were overlooking Saltpeter hill which was the last active volcano in the southern hemisphere (about 66 million years ago).
Gonna stop the interesting/boring facts but just want to mention a few about SALT itself.
Built at a cost of $23m, with SA the biggest stake holder.
It is not a see through type telescope but one that has an 11m diameter mirror reflecting into a ‘camera’.
The mirror consists of 91 individual mirror stacked like a honeycomb.
It is with a similar telescope in the US the most powerful and biggest in the world.
It is capable of ‘seeing’ a lit candle on the moon.
The evening we had the chance to look through a telescope and have Glenda as our tour guide. Once again she was also very knowledgeable and was quite an experience looking at different colour stars, another galaxy that looked like a haze and mars that is actually unimpressive.
What was awesome was seeing the rings around Saturn and all the detail that could be seen on the moon with the telescope that magnifies 98 times.
Overall it was a most memorable experience.
Our holiday is quickly speeding to an end and with our 3g track record I will most probably only be able to make the last posts when we get home.