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Observatory Digs for SALT

Armagh Observatory, 2 July 2001:


Deidre Cottrell, Peter Cottrell, Mark Bailey, Tolis Christou, Maria Madjarska, Gerry Doyle

Professor Peter Cottrell, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, visited Armagh last week to discuss new research links between Armagh and New Zealand under the auspices of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) partnership. This is a project to build and operate a large, 10-metre class telescope at the Sutherland Observatory, an outstation of the South African Astronomical Observatory, on the Karoo Plateau in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa.

SALT is a technically improved "twin" of the University of Texas Hobby-Eberly telescope, with a novel optical and mechanical design that enables significant savings to be made compared to the cost of a conventional 10-metre class telescope. The telescope's main mirror is an 11-metre diameter hexagon, comprising a mosaic of 91 identical 1-metre hexagonal mirror segments. It is being built through an international partnership that currently includes astronomers from six countries: South Africa, Poland, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Armagh's involvement is through a consortium of five UK universities (Central Lancashire, Keele, Nottingham, Southampton and the Open University), with funding from the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

The Observatory's participation in SALT will provide valuable scientific and technological opportunities for Armagh Observatory staff, students and research associates over at least the next ten years, as well as collaborations and links with other national and international partners. In addition to astronomy, SALT provides a wide range of collateral benefits including opportunities to promote the public understanding of science, and to attract young people and previously disadvantaged individuals into subjects such as mathematics, science and engineering. SALT also provides a vehicle for high-level contacts between the respective SALT partners, as in Peter Cottrell's visit to Armagh, and between their respective funding agencies, cities and regions.

See also:
SALT at Armagh
The SALT Website
The SALT WebCam

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Bailey or John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory (Tel.: 028-3752-2928, FAX: 028-3752-7174); e-mail jmf@star.arm.ac.uk.

Last Revised: 2001 July 3rd
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