“I work at the Observatory in Observatory”. This phrase is often uttered by our staff and causes amusement and confusion. Many Capetonians are blissfully unaware of the Observatory’s existence on a leafy, rocky outcropping between the Liesbeek and Black rivers in the heart of Cape Town. Spotted with telescope domes and historic buildings, the Observatory is a fascinating look into the past, juxtaposed against the cutting edge science happening beneath the roofs of this historic site.
The Observatory has a fascinating history dating back to 1820, which is when our main building was constructed, making it one of the oldest permanent structures in Cape Town. Owing to light and air pollution in the city, most of the actual observing happens in Sutherland in the Northern Cape, about 380Kms from Cape Town. Some of the telescopes in Cape Town are still used for outreach and public events – you can find out more about that from the “Visiting” menu on the left.