Grade nine boy lights the way by naming SA's first remotely-operated telescope

06 May 2017 - 14:01 By Tanya Farber
Image: Supplied

A grade nine pupil from North West Province has reached for the stars - and got there.

Sam Mpho Mthombeni‚ who attends Lentheng Middle School‚ got the call on Friday to say that the name he proposed for South Africa's first remotely-operated telescope - near Sutherland - had been chosen as the winner.


Picture: Supplied

Lesedi - meaning light in Sesotho - is the name that he proposed and was one of hundreds of entries that poured in since the South African Astronomical Observatory opened the competition from January 26 to the end of March.

The Department of Science and Technology has invited Mthombeni and a family member to the DST budget debate in Parliament in Cape Town on May 16.

Thereafter‚ they will travel to the Sutherland observing site for the dedication and unveiling ceremony.

Later in the evening‚ Mthombeni will have his very own 1-metre telescope for the night‚ with which to view the Sutherland night-sky.

According to Dr Ramotholo Sefako‚ at SAAO who made the call‚ Mthombeni was overjoyed when he received the news‚ and said: "I believe this will motivate other learners to also want to study science."

The new 1-metre telescope is a recent addition to the national and international telescopes near Sutherland in the Northern Cape‚ and according to project scientist‚ Hannah Worters‚ "is the first new telescope for over forty years that is owned and operated solely by South Africa".

She said: "The next generation of astronomers will train with this telescope and use it to make their own great discoveries."

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE