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The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is a ~10 metre (~33 feet) diameter optical telescope, located in the semi-desert region of the Karoo, South Africa. It is a facility of the South African Astronomical Observatory, the national optical observatory of South Africa.


SALT is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. It will enable imaging, spectroscopic, and polarimetric analysis of the radiation from astronomical objects out of reach of northern hemisphere telescopes. It was originally planned to be a copy of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory, but while adapting the construction plans, significant changes were introduced to its design, especially to the spherical aberration corrector. The main driver for these changes were desired improvements to the telescope's field of view.


First light with the full mirror was declared on 1 September 2005 with 1 arc second resolution images of globular cluster 47 Tucanae, open cluster NGC 6152, spiral galaxy NGC 6744, and the Lagoon Nebula being obtained. The official opening by President Thabo Mbeki took place during the inauguration ceremony on 10 November 2005.


South Africa contributed about a third of the total of $36 million USD that will finance SALT for its first 10 years ($20 million for the construction of the telescope, $6 million for instruments, $10 million for operations). The rest was contributed by the other partners - Germany, Poland, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.


If you look to the right top of the photo you will see the moon and a contrail of a plane.

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Taken on May 1, 2008