SALTThis past weekend, the SALT was finally launched. SALT is the South African Large Telescope, based at Sutherland. It is the southern hemisphere’s largest optical telescope, and has some of the best further technical abilities of any telescope on the planet. Astronomers are going gaga about it. It will be able to see things never before seen by humans.
What caught my attention in the report over the weekend was this quote by one of lead astronomers: “We work all night, and in the morning we emerge into the infinity of the Karoo, populated only by a couple of springbok and one or two trees. It’s so silent, you don’t even hear an echo. You can lose your sense of balance here. It’s only when you’re in such a silent place that you realise how much of our sense of balance comes from sound.”
And someone else: “The unique feature of astronomy is its mixture of science and wonder; of heart and mind. As human beings we need to keep realising and appreciating the fascination of nature. Too many children are growing up in places that are so polluted that they never experience the poetry of the stars and the wonder of what is out there.”
As an aside, there are now plans for an 18-hole golf course and golf estate in the nearby town of Sutherland. Is nothing sacred?

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