The Department of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town was established in 1972. It is the only dedicated university-based astronomy group in the country. Since its launch it has strong ties - and also joint positions - with the South African Astronomical Observatory (www.saao.ac.za) making regular use of the telescopes, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland. In recent years equally strong interactions have been established by growing the radio group with the South African SKA Office due to its strong involvement (and lead) in four of the ten MeerKAT large survey projects . The department specialises in high speed photometry and spectroscopy of variable stars, in long period variable stars and Galactic Structure, neutral hydrogen and dark matter in nearby galaxies, star formation and galaxy evolution, and in large-scale structures of the Universe and the Zone of Avoidance. The most recent expansion includes cosmic magnetism and Big Data.
The department is also an integral part of the Research Centre in Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravitation (www.acgc.uct.ac.za) established in 2009. Its primary goal is to form a major research hub in astrophysics, cosmology and gravity in southern Africa, with particular emphasis on projects involving the new facilities SALT and MeerKAT that will require the expertise from both observers and theorists. The Centre provides a natural home for the students and staff of NASSP, the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (www.star.ac.za).