The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is holding a competition to name their new telescope!
SAAO has recently added a new 1m telescope to its collection of many national and international telescopes on the SAAO observing plateau near Sutherland in the Northern Cape. The telescope can take images of areas of the sky seventy times larger than the existing SAAO 1.0m telescope. At present, the telescope is operating with a very high-speed camera called SHOC (Sutherland High Speed Optical Camera) — which can take 70 images in one second — to study rapid changes in star systems. Although based in Sutherland, it is South Africa’s first telescope that will be operable from other locations, without the need to travel to the Northern Cape. It will largely be operated by a team of postgraduate astronomy students from South African universities, who will develop skills in observing objects in the night sky, processing the images they take with the telescope and writing up their results and publishing them in scientific journals, as well as getting to grips with the technical aspects of operating a telescope.
See our press release for more information.
Who can enter?
Learners in grades 6 to 12 all across South Africa.
What do I have to do?
Suggest a name for the new SAAO 1m telescope, including a short motivation (maximum of 60 words) on why you chose that name. The suggested name must be non-offensive, pronounceable and preferably one word. Entries without a motivation will not be considered. The suggested name can be in any of the 11 official languages, whereas the motivation should preferably be in English.
You must also include your full name, your grade, the name of your school and your contact number in your entry.
How do I submit my entry?
- Fill in the online entry form below.
- Download, complete and post your entry to SAAO at:
South African Astronomical Observatory
P.O. Box 9
- Or hand your entry form to the SAAO representatives at the 2017 National Science Festival (Scifest) in Grahamstown.
When does the competition end?
The closing date for entries has been extended to 31 March 2017. No entries will be accepted after the closing date.
Who chooses the winner?
A panel of experts from the SAAO will judge the entries. The winner will be announced once the judges have made their final selection. The judges’ decisions will be final.
Is there a prize for the winner?
The winning learner and one parent or guardian will be brought to Sutherland for a telescope naming ceremony. The learner’s name will be inscribed on a plaque on the building that houses the telescope. The winner will also be given a tour of the SAAO site and facilities and, if the weather permits, a chance to observe the night sky using the new telescope.
Any additional exceptional entries will receive certificates and honourable mentions.
Disclaimer: Family members of SAAO employees are not eligible to participate in this competition.