This timelapse is different than most because it allows you to see the actions of the South African Large Telescope (SALT) from a unique point of view: the camera is mounted on the mirror structure, but also visible is the awesome field of view. Dr. Bruno Letarte compiled this video from 3 consecutive nights observing in July 2012 showing SALT in action. He also provides a tour of the inside of the telescope as well.
Additionally, Letarte provides detailed info of what is being observed, what scientist or team is doing the observing, and additional details of what is actually happening. If you want a more traditional timelapse of the night sky, see below for Letarte’s Volume I of this pair of videos. It shows a stunningly beautiful look at the southern sky, and points out several of the constellations and other objects that are visible.
SALT is located near the town of Sutherland, South Africa, about 380 km from Cape Town. The telescope has been fully operational for over a year now, and is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world. It has a hexagonal primary mirror array 11 meters across, made of 91 individual 1.2m hexagonal mirrors. It is very similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, but SALT has a redesigned optical system resulting in a larger field of view and effective collecting area.
Thanks to Bruno Letarte for sharing his videos with Universe Today.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.