The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was officially unveiled yesterday, in Sutherland, a small town 400 km north of Cape Town, South Africa.
SALT is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, with a mirror 11 metres across. Although very similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, SALT has a redesigned optical system using more of the mirror array. It will be able to record distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame at the distance of the moon.
SALT was completed this year, and funded by a consortium of international partners from South Africa, the United States, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.