First light for the Southern African Large Telescope
Exactly five years after groundbreaking, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) project has released its first colour images, marking the achievement of 'first light' and the successful debut of full operation for SALTICAM, a $600 000 digital camera designed and built for SALT at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). SALT is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, and equal to the largest in the world. Gathering more than 25 times as much light as any existing African telescope, SALT can detect objects as faint as a candle flame on the moon. The sample images now released for the first time were taken during the camera's first trial period of operation, which also achieved SALT's first significant scientific results.