SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory

Additional information about SAAO Sutherland

Since the early 1970s, the major telescopes of the SAAO have operated on a hilltop 1800 metres above sea level, near the Karoo village of Sutherland, about 370 km inland (better weather, semi-desert site, free of light and other pollution).

Geographical Position of Sutherland
(1.0-m telescope) 20°48'38.5"E 32°22'46"S Altitude 1759m

Major Telescopes on the Sutherland site




11-m reflector

SALT Foundation

Spectrograph, camera

1.9-m reflector

Grubb Parsons

Spectrograph, infrared photometer, CCD camera

1.0-m reflector

Grubb Parsons

CCD camera, photometers, polarimeter

0.75-m reflector

Grubb Parsons

Normal & infrared photometers, camera

0.5-m reflector

Boller & Chivens


1.4-m reflector

Nishimura Co.

Infrared Survey Facility, Sirius IR Camera

0.75-m reflector


Automatic Photometric Telescope, photometer

Visiting the town of Sutherland

Contact the Karoo Hoogland Tourism Office on (023) 571 1265 for information about Sutherland accommodation and local tours. More information can be found at and

The tourism office is on the main road of the town. It has information about the area such as the Tuinplaas Church, Verlatenkloof Pass, Ouberg Pass, Old English and Jewish Cemetery, Louw Museum, Dutch Reformed Church, Salpeterkop and much much MORE. Informal tour guides are also available to take you through the area (ask at the tourism office).

Note that in the town of Sutherland petrol is not available on Sundays (though special arrangements can be made). In winter the Sutherland road (R354) can have a layer of snow or ice on the surface, so be careful on this narrow, but good tarred road. Lots of Tortoises about, please look out for the little ones crossing the road. There are also Baboons, Buck, Black Eagles and lots of flowers in spring.


Sutherland Websites