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Completion of the Southern African Large Telescope

By D. A. H. Buckley and P. A. Charles


Abstract. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was completed, on budget, in November 2005, in just under 6 years, and is currently in the middle of its commissioning and performance verification phase, expected to be concluded by early 2007. SALT partners have already been obtaining observations during this shake-down period, and night time hours devoted to science time has slowly risen to 65-75%. Already some scientific results have been obtained and the first SALT science paper accepted for publication. SALT promises to be ideally suited to many survey follow-up programs and indeed for surveys of its own, for which observational cosmology will definitely benefit. The capabilities and innovative aspects of SALTs “first light ” instruments are described. These instruments, which are all designed as seeing-limited, operate in the UV-visible region (320−900 nm), and will provide capabilities for broad and narrow band imaging, long-slit and multi-object spectroscopy (R ∼ 6000 for seeing limit), spectropolarimetry and Fabry-Perot and tuneable filter imaging (R ∼ 320 to 9000, depending on etalon choice). Time resolved studies are supported by the use of fast readout CCD detectors, capable of high speed operation (10−2

Year: 2005
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