The MeerLICHT telescope was inaugurated by the Director General of South Africa's Department of Science and Technology (Dr Phil Mjwara) on Africa Day 2018 [25 May]. It is ready to observe the southern skies and will join MeerKAT to scan the southern skies at optical and radio wavelength simultaneously, in search of the most energetic astrophysical events in the Universe.
Ready to observe the southern skies
Over the past months MeerLICHT has been performing many commissioning tests, including the transition to remote observing. The telescope is ready to start observing the southern skies.
MeerLICHT installation in Sutherland
On 7 July 2017, the MeerLICHT telescope arrived at the Sutherland station of the South African Astronomical Observatory. The telescope was lifted into the dome under perfect weather conditions.
During the months of October and November 2017, a number of MeerLICHT scientists used the telescope for commissioning observations, to assess the image quality and the depth achieved in a 1 minute exposure in all filters. We targeted fields that will be observed with MeerKAT over the next five years. Our commissioning observations of those fields will provide a long baseline for any variable or transient object discovered by MeerKAT/MeerLICHT.
Rik ter Horst (ASTRON) spent one week in Sutherland to test the optics of MeerLICHT with on-sky observations and to align the primary mirror of MeerLICHT to perfection. This has resulted in sharp, round stellar images across the entire 2.7 square degree field of view of MeerLICHT [only a small part of the full frame is shown here].
The MeerLICHT telescope was lifted into its dome on 7 July 2017. This marks the start of the installation of MeerLICHT at the Sutherland station of the South African Astronomy Observatory. Over the coming month, a group of people from ASTRON, Radboud University, the University of Groningen and the University of Cape Town will be installing the telescope and its camera, and test out the alignment of the optics of the telescope.
On 1 July 2017, the MeerLICHT telescope arrived in South Africa. Here you see the telescope all boxed up at Cape Town international airport before it is transported to the Sutherland station of the South African Astronomical Observatory, where the installation is scheduled for the month of July 2017.