Anthony Mietas grew up in the rural town of Sutherland completely unaware of the astronomical activity taking place on an ice-cold plateau just 14km away. The dark, dry and virtually cloudless night skies of the Roggeveld Karoo create the ideal conditions for observing the stars, and Sutherland has for decades been home to the primary optical and infrared telescopes of the SA Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). Today Mietas is no longer a stranger to astronomy. He is the science engagement manager for the SAAO in Sutherland, home to the Southern African Large Telescope (Salt), and is seeking ways for the local community to benefit from the international science being practised on its doorstep. It took five years to build Salt, at a cost of US$36m, the result of a partnership involving SA, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the US. It was inaugurated in 2005. Many locals were disappointed to find that the construction phase of the project created few jobs, as the engineering firms...

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