'Super Telescope' Becomes Functional Soon

When the Southern African Large Telescope -- or "Salt" -- opens its shutter it offers astronomers a sight far beyond its location in the vastness of South Africa's semi desert, known as the Karoo.

Distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters are all in the reach of a telescope huge enough to see all the way to the edge of the observable universe, back in time to the aftermath of the big bang.

Astronomer Alexei Kniazev is one of the handful of scientists who run experiments for associate researchers from 15 institutional partners around the world.

"It's the biggest mirror in the southern hemisphere, which is 11 meters in diameter, which consists of 91 one-meter hexagonal segments," he told.

The telescope is so powerful it can record distant objects a billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye and notice the flame of a candle on the surface of the moon. And it is perfectly positioned to unlock the universe's secrets.

"We are using this telescope to learn objects, not in our galaxy, but nearby galaxies, which is practically impossible to do with smaller telescopes," said Kniazev.
"It's using a lot of diverse technologies that have never been put together in this way before."

"In January we put both instruments on the telescope and the telescope becomes 100 percent efficient," he said. Bookmark and Share