University of Cape Town

Dept. of Astronomy

Dept. of Physics

Dept. of Maths and Applied Maths

South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)

The University of Cape Town, on the slopes of Devil's Peak, overlooking Table Bay.



The Vanderbilt—Cape Town Partnership

A research and student exchange program in astronomy, physics, and materials science.

Research Projects | Courses and Training | Faculty and Students
Fisk University | University of the Western Cape



Vanderbilt University

Dept. of Physics & Astronomy

Materials Science Program

SMARTS Telescopes at CTIO

About Vanderbilt

About Nashville

Vanderbilt University is located near downtown Nashville.

Planning Meeting -- March 2007

Faculty from Vanderbilt University and South Africas University of Cape Town (UCT) met March 4-7, 2007, in Cape Town to discuss how to work together and to brainstorm initial possibilities for research and student exchanges.

Meeting agenda and presentations:

Numerous promising research collaborations in astronomy and physics were identified. Two collaborations in particular—one in 'time-domain astronomy' and one in 'nano-physics'—have already established concrete plans for moving forward quickly.

The time-domain astronomy collaboration will center on a new small telescope to be built at the Sutherland Station of the South African Astronomical Observatory, also the site of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). The new telescope will monitor nearly 1 million stars, spread over 25 percent of the southern hemisphere sky, with a time cadence of about 15 minutes. A primary motivation is to search for the faint 'shadows' cast by Earth-like planets as they orbit their suns. In addition to searching for these so-called exoplanets, the new venture will study a host of transient phenomena, such as binary stars and supernova explosions, that may then be studied in more careful detail with SALT. Finally, it is hoped that the stream of approximately 10 Gb of data obtained every night will help to form the backbone of an archival repository of high quality data—a South African Virtual Observatory—that researchers and students across Southern Africa will be able to use for ongoing research and training.

The nano-physics collaboration identified three pilot feasibility projects, involving researchers in physics, materials science, chemistry, and engineering. These can be pursued immediately, involving transfer of materials and short-term faculty/student visits for knowledge transfer. It is hoped that these feasibility studies may help leverage significant (~ R600000) funding from SA NRF and industry, as well as the National Science Foundation in the USA.