South Africa has another eye in the sky. The Department of Science and Technology has launched the Meerlicht telescope which means more light at Sutherland in the Northern Cape.

The telescope will be permanently linked to the Meerkat radio telescope, South Africa’s precursor to the Square Kilometre Array. The fully robotic 0.65 meter telescope aims to provide a simultaneous, real-time optical view of the sky as observed by the Meerkat.

Director-General of the Department, Phil Mjwara, says the next step is to launch over 100 dish arrays.

“ We are now working with the international community, to bring the 133 dish arrays which is the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array frequency. If all goes well and the money is available which is about 850-million euros, we should begin to see some of those dishes coming to South Africa in the next two years or thereabout.”