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Public Visits to HartRAO

About the Public Visits

We hold public visits once per month, on a Saturday afternoon to early evening.

These visits start and end at our Visitors Centre, which has a number of displays, demonstrations and activities. The programme starts at 16h00 with activities and demonstrations at the Visitors Centre. The tour of the observatory follows. This includes an audio-visual show on astronomy and aspects of the radio astronomy and space geodesy research done here. You may be able to visit the telescope control room. Going outside again you will get close-up views of the radio telescopes and the satellite laser ranger, weather permitting. The duration of the tour is about two hours. Don't forget your camera! Again weather permitting, the tour is followed by night sky viewing until 20h00, when the programme ends.

Please bring your own refreshments and food.

Please switch off all radio transmitters while visiting HartRAO. This includes cellphones, bluetooth hands free kits, computer wifi radio networking, 3G, walky-talkies etc. These may interfere with the operation of the radio telescopes.

Booking for the Public visits

Numbers per visit: We can take a maximum of 50 people per visit. Booking in advance is essential - please book early to avoid disappointment.

Cancellations: if you book, but later find that you are unable to attend, please inform us immediately so that others can take your place.

Group bookings: For groups of ten or more, a non-refundable deposit of the full entrance fee must be made to reserve places. Places are only reserved on receipt of a faxed copy of the slip depositing the money into the HartRAO bank account. Groups of twenty or more should consider booking a separate visit or making bookings for the public visit as individuals or families.

Entrance fees

Adults - R65
Learners and pensioners - R55
Preschool - free
Family discount - maximum entrance fee for mother, father and their own children - R175 (e.g. mother and father with two children save R65)


Payment may be made in advance by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
We are not able to accept cash payments or payment by credit card.

Dates of Public Visits

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2018 27 17 -- -- 19 16 28 18 15 13 10 8

Please Note: Public Visits for March and April have been cancelled due to operational requirements - dates may change (or be cancelled) as operational requirements dictate during the year.

Where is HartRAO?

Click here for directions and a map.

To make a booking or get more information

Phone 012 301-3100 or fax 012 301-3300
or e-mail the science awareness team at: aware@hartrao.ac.za

Picture Gallery

inside the VC
Click on the image for the fullsize picture.
View inside the Visitors Centre at night, from the western end of the hall. A model of a GPS satellite hangs from the ceiling in the right foreground. On the left, a PC gives a continuously updating display of the stars and planets visible in the night sky.

inside the VC
Click on the image for the fullsize picture.
View inside the Visitors Centre at night, from the eastern end of the hall. A large moon globe dominates the right edge of the scene. The shop is just visible lit up at the far end of the hall, a little left of centre.

telescope viewing
Click on the image for the fullsize picture.
Night sky viewing outside the Visitors Centre. Here telescopes were trained on Mars, Omega Centauri, Alpha Centauri and the Jewel Box.

radio telescope
Click on the image for the fullsize picture.
This picture was taken by a visitor during the public visit of 2004 January 25. The Moon and Venus lie just to the left of the radio telescope, while the beam of the Satellite Laser Ranger passes overhead.

At the public visit on 2005 March 12, visitor Wynand Steyn captured this view of Saturn by aiming his hand-held digital camera at the eyepiece of the 35 cm telescope. He comments: "By the way, my Grade 5 son said afterwards that he has learned more during Saturday's visit regarding the earth and space than in the last 2 years of school, even the smaller one (Grade 2 and actually Afrikaans speaking) picked up enough from the presentations to tell everybody on Sunday how space is really working."