200-year-old SA Astronomical Observatory officially unveiled as a National Heritage Site

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) was officially unveiled as a national heritage site by South Africa Heritage Resources (SAHRA) during its 200th commemoration on Thursday, 22 October 2020.  

It was officially declared a National Heritage Site in December 2018 by SAHRA.

SAAO is the oldest permanent observatory in the Southern Hemisphere, responsible for optical and infrared astronomy in the country. It is where Cape astronomers first successfully observed the distance to the star nearest to Earth. The facility is the pride of the Southern Hemisphere, in that it made it possible to capture photographs of the galaxy.

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

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