The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) was pleased to host 35 UJ Physics students during their recent excursion organised by Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of the Physics Department’s Teaching and Learning, Dr Emanuela Carleschi. Insightful, enjoyable and free of charge to the students, the trip was hosted by Mrs Marion West, an astronomer working at HartRAO, where they participated in a host of activities in the visitors centre, toured the main telescope, and finally, did some stargazing after dark.
HartRAO is located in a valley in the Magaliesberg hills and operates as a National Research Facility under the auspices of the National Research Foundation. The observatory began as Deep Space Station 51, built in 1961 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America, and today boasts an array of research instrumentation available to UJ students.
Dr Carleschi said, “It is always so rewarding to see how much students enjoy the whole experience at HartRAO. The most interesting part for them is to get to know about the leading role played by South Africa in the international landscape in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. It was my forth excursion to HartRAO with UJ students, and I learned new things myself. I am very grateful to the HartRAO staff, and to Mrs West in particular, for this wonderful opportunity.”
The students were fascinated by what they saw at the observatory and are encouraged to pursue postgraduate research in radio astronomy.