Glorious Future Ahead of SALT and TNO

April 12 – 15, 2015


Chiang Mai, Thailand

Following on the successful visit to South African Large Telescope (SALT) in early 2015,  Prof. Boonrucksar, in return, had a chance to welcome Dr. David Buckley, Head of SALT Project on his visit to NARIT and TNO. 

Dr. Buckley visited NARIT’s headquarters – Astropark construction site in Mae Rim, and TNO facility at Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai with a keen interest as this was his visit to the facilities.  A talk on “South African Large Telescope Science” was given to NARIT’s audience with a well-accepted atmosphere. The talk focused on the design and construction of SALT and its First Generation visible wavelength (320-900nm) instruments and the operational model for the telescope. These include some unique or rare modes on large telescopes (e.g. high time resolution, polarimetry and Fabry-Perot imaging spectroscopy) and their importance were reviewed. Some science results were also presented, highlighting the various instrument modes and covering a range of astronomical topics. The ability of SALT to undertake target of opportunity programs and the flexibility of a 100% queue scheduled telescope was emphasized. A summary of the current design and capabilities of the new infrared extension (900-1700nm) to the RSS spectrograph, which is currently under construction and is due to begin commissioning in 2016, was also presented. Future plans, including support of multi-wavelength programs with other existing or planned facilities (e.g. HESS II, MeerKAT, LSST, SKA) were widely discussed. Finally, an overview of the other astronomical facilities at SAAO (South Africa Astronomical Observatory) and within South Africa and plans for future developments were also concluded.  


Prof. Boonrucksar and Dr. Buckley displayed an utmost interest in joining hands on  collaborative efforts as there is a demand for astronomy education at graduate levels as a talk to send Thai graduate students to study in South Africa has been also mentioned. "South Africa is one of main landmarks when it comes to astronomy education. In order to expand our horizon, collaborations in astronomy education and research and development with SALT and SAAO are truly essential" says Prof. Boonrucksar. Prof. Boonrucksar also expressed his interest in collaborating with SALT in improving NARIT's current infrastructure and partnering with SALT in future shared facilities.