For astronomers visiting the SAAO to observe on our telescopes, you will require a visitor visa. Application for this should be directed to the South African embassy in the country from which you originate. Visit.

Important Note for Prospective Observers

Due to an increased demand in accommodation in Sutherland as a result of more activities at SALT due to ongoing recommissioning, accommodation has once again become a big challenge. And this is going to be even more serious in the coming weeks due to a large number of people that are anticipated to be involved in the recommissioning teams. As a result, we will need to limit the number of observers at each of our telescopes that we can accommodate on site at the hostel to 2 (two). Therefore, if you are planning to send more than two observers at any of our telescopes, please be aware that you may be sent to accommodation in town for the extra observer(s), or be prepared to share a room between yourselves. Otherwise you will need to give a strong motivation to and require approval from the SAAO director detailing why you need more than two observers.

Although we encourage student involvement in your observational visits to Sutherland given the importance of training future astronomers, in some instances, we will need to put more than one student in a room, and therefore students should ALWAYS be prepared to share a room on site. Irrespective of whether they are observing on their own or not; if necessary, students may be asked to share a room.
Please note that we have already increased the number of hostel rooms available by two (as a result of the recent refurbishment of the south wing). And we continue to push for the necessary funding to construct a dedicated student block as part of the hostel.

Notes for Observers

  • It is not always possible to provide a support astronomer for the first night of a run. It may therefore be necessary for visitors unfamiliar with a telescope or instrument to arrive at Sutherland in sufficient time to spend e.g. 1-2 days overlapping with the previous week’s observer. Visitors with reasonable experience of the telescope/instrument will be expected to start by themselves. Please liaise with on this issue.
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult – because of technical staff involvement with SALT – to carry out the frequent instrument changes that were possible in the past. It is therefore likely that the “majority” instrument requested on each telescope in a given quarter will be favoured, to minimise the number of instrument changes. Therefore, some instruments – such as the SAAO CCD or the CCD spectrograph – might be on the telescope for many weeks. This means that at some stage, the dewar vacuums will need to be repumped and this could result in some loss of observing time.