Celebrating 200 years of the South African Astronomical Observatory

The story. Perched on the outskirts of Observatory in Cape Town, just above the Black River, stands the South African Astronomical Observatory. Initially known as the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, it has multiple telescopes, a museum, a library and a mechanical workshop that can “build, maintain and support the various instruments used on telescopes in Sutherland”.

The observatory is turning 200 and from 20 to 23 October will be celebrating “current and future science, the history of astronomy on the continent, as well as cultural and sociological aspects of astronomy… and highlight [the] developing plans for the observatory”.

Say more. You will find details about the virtual event and the AstroFest, as well as a brief history of the observatory, in Karel van der Vyver’s story.

Did you know? “Back at the beginning of the century, life at the observatory was filled with research, surveys and challenging experiences. Walking through today’s library, one can read the journals of previous astronomers: writings from the time tell of wild animals… leopard, hippo and snakes roaming through the place; there was no drinking water on site and the grounds of the observatory seemed rather inhospitable,” says Van der Vyver.