Welcome to the Astronomer’s area of the SAAO site, where professional astronomers can find the information they need to apply for time on SAAO telescopes and instruments, as well as explore detailed technical information about the instruments, facilities, and virtual tools.


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Observing at SAAO

In keeping with its role as the National Facility for optical/infrared astronomy, SAAO makes telescope time available to qualified astronomers and post-graduate students in South Africa and at SALT partner institutes. A certain percentage of time is also granted to astronomers from around the world, to promote scientific and technological collaboration and to promote the exchange of ideas and information.

Overview | ApplicationsCape Town | Sutherland | Feedback Form

Astronomy Town Meeting 2023

Meeting Page

Astronomy Town Meeting 2022

This is a discussion forum for professional astronomers in South Africa taking place in Cape Town from 8 – 9 September 2022. For more information, and to register:

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Observing Rota

The rota for telescope time allocations can be viewed via the link below.



The SAAO owns and operates world-class research telescopes on a dark site outside the Karoo town of Sutherland, protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.

1.9m | 1.0m | Lesedi | IRSF | PRIME | SALT


Each telescope is equipped with a suite of instruments, largely built in-house at SAAO.

Overview | SpUpNIC | HIPPO | SHOC  | STE3/STE4 | Sibonise | Mookodi

Accept a proposal

Please accept your proposal if you have received observing time.

Accept proposal

Sutherland Telescope Users Committee (STUC)

The Sutherland Telescopes Users’ Committee (STUC) exists to advise the director on scientific, technical and operational issues relating to the running of the SAAO telescopes in Sutherland.

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South Africa and the LSST

With first light in 2023, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory  will undertake the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), imaging a large fraction of the available sky every few days. The South African LSST Programme is managed by the South African LSST Committee through the SA Program Lead and the Program Manager, who are based at SAAO.

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The task team should be seen as representative of the South African professional astronomy community, and should form a bridge between government structures and the community.

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Virtual Observatory Tools

Astronomers have access to a multitude of international data archives and software tools.

Data Archives | Data Discovery Tools | Analysis Tools | Plotting Tool