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February 2011
In this issue
First HartRAO-KAT-7 VLBI fringes signal new capability
MeerKAT engineers launch new ROACH board
MeerKAT Science - the Large Survey Projects
More power and connectivity milestones for Karoo astronomy reserve
SKA South Africa and NRAO to deepen collaboration in 2011
MeerKAT Karoo Express - flying to the MeerKAT site
Postdoctoral opportunities at SKA South Africa
MeerKAT advances cutting-edge expertise
Students star at SA SKA postgraduate conference
Technician team deployed at KAT-7 in Karoo
Review of Karoo reserve infrastructure
Virtual sky display in MeerKAT control room
SKA online - useful websites

Virtual sky display in MeerKAT control room

A real-time virtual sky display has been installed as part of the newly deployed control room in the Cape Town MeerKAT project office. This innovative display, based on the popular open source Stellarium software, provides telescope operators with a synthesised view of the Karoo sky that includes radio and optical sources, satellites and the antenna pointing positions.

High-resolution screen shots of Stellarium with KAT-7 integrated. Click on images to view larger versions

"KAT-7 and MeerKAT will use Stellarium to give the telescope's operators a real-time view of the sky," explains Simon Ratcliffe, computing architect on the MeerKAT team. "This will help us to avoid observations that run too close to satellites and other sources of interference." Future developments will include overlays that show historical observations, at radio and other wavelengths, and allow easy retrieval of archived data.

In the future, home users will be able to download the software, which is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and receive a live view of the telescope operations.

"We have made a number of modifications to Stellarium in order to integrate it with our telescope control system and include radio sky data," Simon adds. "We will be pushing these changes back to the host project which will allow anyone to download Stellarium and get a view on what KAT-7 is currently observing."