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Return of the Scientific Caravan
organized by Sirius and APC of Constantine, with the help of SAAO
to visit the SALT telescope, Sutherland Plateau, South Africa
22 July- 30 July 2010

and a Video

Read also an insightful article (In French)
Afrique du Sud et Algérie
Convergences ... et Divergences

J.M. - Sirius
(Le Quotidien d'Oran du 12 Avril 2010)

The Cultural Part
Go to Part II, and III

Constantine - Cape Town, via Tunis, via Dubai... A long Way to Go

Reaching the Tunis capital. The team in full (Save the photographer): From left to right: Smail, Derifa, Hikamatallah, Asma, and Abderaouf (dit Oufi). Rachid, one of our two taxi drivers stands at left.

Then heading towards Dubai: afve hours flight. And then eight more hours for our next connecting flight to Cape Town!

Dubai with its mega projects.

And now for earnest heading towards Cape Town. Across Rub' Al-Khali (The Empty Quarter). Really empty indeed. Nothing but a sea of ondulating sand.

The rugged Yemeni mountains: Houthi territory !

Across Africa. Here the archipelago of Zanzibar.

Above Tanzania and Kenya

Reaching Cape Town at last after flying 9000 km from Dubai.

Welcome to South Africa! At the airport was Kevin Govinder from SAAO (In the middle) and Dr.Ebrahim (At right) an ICOP "activist" who will be our attentioned guide in the second part of our stay.

... the country of the Vuvuzela... and many other things as we will see.
Going to the SALT Telescope in Sutherland
The Fascinating Road to SALT

The road to Sutherland is quite panoramic. It will smoothly make a transition from greeny lands to semi arid ones.

South Africa, a land of contrast: shanty town here for some ...

... and confortable dwellings for others. The wrongs of apartheid has yet to be dealt with adequately.

Breadthtaking views of the valley below as if you were in an airplane.

Beautiful chaotic geological structures next to the road

The Afrikaans Language Monument could be seen on a hill overlooking the Paarl Valley (Save this one that we took on the road, the other pictures are from the web).

From the other side of the monument we have a domineering view till Table Mountain in Cape Town. It bears some resemblance to Le Corbusier style. Even Mzab inspired achitecture which strongly impressed Le Corbusier.
Look at the Mélika mausolée of Cheikh Sidi Aissahere

The Taal monument erected in 1975, is a tribute to the living Africaans language. It is believed to be the only monument in the world erected to celebrate a language. Even the French didn't do it!

Grapeyards everywhere. Check here too. Generous land...

... and its tillers

Magnificent lanscapes.

Smooth ride with the vehicle provided by SAAO, and Kevin doing the driving.

Closing in to SALT. The paysage looks remarkably similar to the high steppes we have in Algeria !
The SALT, at Last !
At the Southern end of the Kalahari desert

400 km away from Cape Town, here stands the SALT, at last !


In front of The South African Large Telescope. It is the largest single optical– infrared telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, with a hexagonal mirror array 11 metres across.

It's really BIG!!!!

No camera can take the whole field unless you have a fish eye lens. Here the secondary mirror appears in the middle of the supporting tubes. The main mirror is below. For a tighter view by J.F.Salgado check here . And here for an even tighter view but without the mirror segments.

The 11 meters segmented mirror (Actually 11x10m). This $18 million telescope is being built by a consortium of government and academic institutions from six countries. The main mirror is made of 91 meter-wide mirror segments.

The SALT control room.

Taking command! The Sirius team at the control room of the SALT telescope!

Details of one of the three main command screens.

The 1.9 m Radcliffe telescope

Rushing to visit the various telescopes before sunset when the astronomers will be there working.

The Sun has just set few more telescopes to visit Here the Japanese Red Survey Facility telescope (IRSF) 1.4m Telescope. Its main camera is named Sirius! It stdy mainly star formation and late stage evolution of massive stages like RGs. Due to its extreme sensitivity to heat, one is not allowed to use flashlight nearby.

Kevin shining in a wondrous sunshine

The team along with Kevin and the SALT telescope in the background .

Sirius looking West (Sunrise side) !

Sirius looking Straight !

Sirius looking East (Moonrise side) !

The Moon rising above the Earth's shadow. We see housed in the white structure the robotic 1.2m telescope (MoNet) with its twin situated in Texas.It is mainly used for for the study of transiting extrasolar planets around stars, GRB's, varaible stars...In the background (Shining dome) stands the Birmingham solar telescope part of the worldwide BiSON network of 6 identical ones.

Here the SALT telescope in a fiery background. sunset. Notice Venus high above.

At the Visitor Center down the road from the Sutherland observatory.

The Observatory we will be using at night. Notice the sliding roof.
Observing the austral sky with a 16 in Meade at the small observatory. As one can see, it's Winter there, and it was indeed pretty cold!

The second telescope for our use: A 12 in Celestron.

At the Visitor's center. Oufi looking through a demonstration telescope.

A small Museum on natural science was set up there.

Nicely fitting

Shopping at the Visitor Center

Finishing our visit to the Observatory in the next morning. In the foreground at left is the 1.9 m Radcliffe telescope.

The silvering chamber for the 1.9 m in the back. Kevin doing the briefing.

Derifa in front of the 1.9m telescope, the second largest one in South Africa.

The 0.75 meter telescope with its IR photometer, its main instrument. He notably observed the comet Shoemaker-Levy9's collision with Jupiter in 1994. Here a tighter view by J.F.Salgado

The 1m Elizabeth telescope. Its construction was approved in 1953, the year Queen Elisabeth was crowned. It is used mainly for optical imaging and photometry.

Sutherland, the last town before the observatory, where we stayed for the remaining part of the night.

At the Hotel with our hosts.
The Cape Town Historical Observatory: The SAAO Headquarters

At the historical Cape Town Observatory, the first in Africa. Behind it is Devil's Hill. In front of the main entrance Here

The night we stayed at the Cape Town Observatory. Here a small gift to Kevin. With us also is Carolina Ödman (On the floor), an astronomer from Sweden.

Taking a group picture in front of the McLean 24 in. refractor.

The blinking device: The old way to discover asteroids, planets satellites... Try it!

Listening to a staff member talking about the SAAO observatories while visiting the small museum housed next to the main dome.

Derifa in the old library

The old library of the observatory. Abderaouf standing next to an old mappemonde.
Seeing the Green Flash on Signal Hill

On Signal Hill: rushing to catch the setting Sun above the Atlantic Ocean
We made it! The Sun is just above the horizon.

A radious sunset
The Green Flash came without notice just after this picture was taken,when the direct light stopped reaching us, and disappeared. Check her a close in view.

Just after the Green Flash. The horizon where the Sun has set is still colored in green!

Cape Town at night from Signal Hill
At the Iziko Planetarium and the South AfricanNatural Museum

Sirius members with Theo Ferreira, the sympathetic Iziko Planetarium's Director in the Gardens, Cape Town. At left with eyeglasses is the Planetarium's operator.

The Minolta type projector

Explanations by Théo

A guided tour of the Planetarium, its various workshops and maintenance rooms.

At the South African Natural Museum with its fascinating exhibits.

Abderaouf, Asma and Hikma through the mouth of a prehistoric beast.

Smail and Theo

Go to Part II, and III