The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. It has a hexagonal primary mirror array 11 metres across, comprising 91 individual 1.2m hexagonal mirrors. Although very similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, SALT has a redesigned optical system resulting in a larger field of view and effective collecting area. It can detect the light from faint or distant objects in the Universe, a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame would appear at the distance of the moon.
The SALTICAM was designed as a multi-purpose instrument, acting as the telescope acquisition camera as well as a visible band science imager and photometer. It is situated at the prime focus, but fed by a 45° fold mirror.
The Robert Stobie Spectrograph (RSS) is a dual-beam Visible/Near-IR spectrograph that uses Volume Phase Holographic (VPH) gratings to achieve high throughput from 320 nm to about 1.7 microns.
The Alan Cousins Telescope is a 0.75 m Automatic Photometric Telescope, which was commissioned in mid-2000. The telescope was named after Dr A.W.J.Cousins.
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The Giraffe-fibre fed Echelle Spectrograph consists of two components:
- The bead which is placed at the Cassegrain focus to collects light from the star and direct it into the fibre.
- The spectrograph, constructed on an optical bench in the coude room, in which the light emerging from the fibre is dispersed and recorded by a CCD camera.
The High Speed Photo Polarimeter (HIPPO) specially designed for high-speed polarization analysis and monitoring. The instrument uses four channels to simultaneously obtain the four Stokes parameters and measure the instantaneous state of polarization (SOP) and degree of polarization (DOP) of an input light beam.
The SAAO CCD camera is available for direct imaging on the 1.0-m and 1.9-m telescopes. Two SITe back-illuminated detectors are available: either a 1024x1024 pixel CCD (designated STE4) or a 512x512 pixel chip (STE3). When mounted on the 1.9-m, the camera is controlled by a DOS PC. On the 1.0-m, the control software is Linux-based. The detector is contained within a cryostat mounted at the Cassegrain focus, together with a remotely-operated filter box and an autoguider.