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SAAO Cape Town Open Night

May 25 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

The SAAO Open Nights in Cape Town take place on the second and fourth Saturday of every month at 20:00.

All Open Nights will start with a presentation on topics of astronomy or physics. Then, visitors will be given an introduction to the historic McClean telescope, the observatory museum, and the library. If the weather is clear, there will be a chance for stargazing using telescopes set up for the night.

Please email enquiries@saao.ac.za if you have any queries regarding bookings and tours for Cape Town Open Nights.

Speaker: Thobekile Ngwane

Thobekile Sandra Ngwane is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar and 2nd year Master’s student at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on near-Earth asteroids. Fueled by a passion for astronomy, she started an Applied Physics and Astronomy Club to ignite a passion for astronomy and STEM education in Zimbabwe. In her free time, she loves to read African literature and watch science fiction shows.


Our solar system isn’t just planets! There are millions of leftover rocks from its formation called Asteroids. Some of these, called Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs), come close enough to Earth to be very interesting. Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) represent a group of minor bodies in our Solar System that have escaped from the main asteroid belt due to resonant interactions with major planets, such as Jupiter.

The International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Minor Planet Center (MPC) database, as of October 2023, reports approximately 33,000 NEAs that have been discovered so far, with the current average daily discovery rate of 11 new NEAs coming from numerous dedicated asteroid discovery survey programs (e.g., Catalina, Pan-STARRS, and ATLAS).

My research uses the Lesedi telescope in Sutherland, South Africa to rapidly follow up on recently discovered asteroids – some within the same night! This is crucial because these small space rocks quickly dim as they move away. We measure their properties to improve our understanding of their composition and potential threat.



May 25
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:




Cape Town
Observatory Rd, Observatory
Cape Town, 7925 South Africa
+ Google Map
021 447 0025