Southern African Large Telescope (SALT): ground breaking ceremony - 1 September 2000
The ground breaking ceremony for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) will be held in Sutherland in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa on 1 September 2000. The ceremony, to which South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has been invited to officiate, will be attended by local guests and representatives of South Africa's seven international partners, including Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the USA, and the UK. SALT is a 10 metre class telescope for optical/ infrared astronomy.It will be based on the design of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), recently completed at McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Texas. SALT will give South Africa and partners access to the single most powerful optical/infrared telescope in the southern hemisphere. The scientific scope of SALT will extend from searching for planets around neighbouring stars to the study of the most distant objects in the Universe. This multimillion rand project is expected to be completed within the next five years. For more information about SALT, please visit the web site: http://www.salt.ac.za
The South African Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, cordially invites you or your South African correspondent to attend this event, a milestone in the construction of SALT, which will be Africa's giant eye to the Universe. DATE: Friday 1 September 2000 TIME: 12:00 to 15:00 VENUE: South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) near Sutherland The Northern Cape site of the SAAO is situated 16 km outside the town of Sutherland, 370km (an approximate four hours' drive) from Cape Town.
Two programmes in which the South African President is expected to participate, have been arranged for 1 September: * The ground breaking ceremony at the SAAO site, outside Sutherland, where the South African President will deliver the keynote address. * In the town of Sutherland, the community will celebrate the signing of a twinning agreement between the towns of Sutherland (where SALT will be situated) and Fort Davis in Texas, USA, where its northern hemisphere "twin" HET is situated. The signing ceremony will take place on the morning of 1 September. The Premier of South Africa's Northern Cape Province will officiate.
TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATION
For media representatives not using their own transport, arrangements will be made to be transported from Cape Town to Sutherland and back by bus: * A bus will transport media representatives to Sutherland a day prior to the event, departing from the SAAO headquarters in Cape Town at 10:00 on Thursday 31 August. The SAAO is situated in Observatory Road, Cape Town (off Liesbeeck Park Road and opposite the Hartleyvale Sports Stadium). This bus will return to Cape Town straight after the proceedings on 1 September. * Busses transporting the media and other guests will leave from the SAAO in Cape Town at 06:00 on 1 September 2000 and will return after the function has ended. Please book your place on the media bus (departing 31 August), or the other busses (departing 1 September) with any of the contact persons below. Media representatives staying over in Sutherland on Thursday night will have to arrange for their own accommodation. For accommodation in Sutherland, please contact its local Tourism Bureau at telephone +27-23-571-1257. Should you require accommodation in Cape Town, we recommend The Courtyard, which is situated very close to the SAAO's Cape Town headquarters, telephone +27-21-448-3929.
MEDIA INFORMATION SESSION & SUPPORT
A media information session on the SALT project will be held at the SAAO site near Sutherland between 15:00 and 17:00 on Thursday 31 August. Astronomers will provide the media with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the project - with the aid of a scale model of SALT - as well as to view the site for photo/video opportunities. Media kits will also be made available, while there will be a "media room" on the site with email, telephone and fax facilities. Should you not be able to be represented at the event, please let us know whether we could make the information available to you via email or fax.
National Research Foundation (NRF):
Sanlie van Rooyen / Marina Joubert
Tel +27-12-481-4003 / -4055, fax +27-12-481-4134,
The SAAO is a national research facility of the NRF.
THE ABOVE MEDIA INVITATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE SOUTH AFRICAN ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY AND IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.
JACQUELINE MITTON (ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS OFFICER) Republic of South Africa Media Invitation