Grade 9 learner names telescope ‘Lesedi’

The new 1 m telescope of the South African Astronomical Observatory was named "Lesedi" by a Grade 9 learner from North West.

The new 1-m telescope of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) finally has a new name.
According to a press release by the SAAO, it has concluded the naming competition for its new 1-m telescope; a recent addition to the many national and international telescopes on the observing plateau near Sutherland, in the Northern Cape. And the name that came out tops is “Lesedi”.
“Since the day we announced the competition (which ran from 26 January – 31 March), we received an overwhelming response from enthusiastic learners countrywide. The suggested names were accompanied by thoughtful motivations, many of which highlighted the keen interest learners have in astronomy, and in the advancement of technology through the development of astronomy in South Africa. The judges had a very tough decision to make,” reads the statement.
Lesedi, a name put forward by Sam Mpho Mthombeni, a Grade 9 learner at Lentheng Middle School in North West Province, was chosen from the nine shortlisted names. Lesedi means light in Sesotho.
Upon receiving the news, Mthombeni had this to say: “I am very happy to be the winner. I am proud that my name, Lesedi, will be the name used for the telescope. I believe this will motivate other learners to also study science.”
His motivation was: “The new telescope should be named Lesedi because it’s the first South African telescope that will be remotely operable and potentially robotic.”
In support of the telescope naming competition, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has invited Mthombeni and his parents to the DST budget debate in Parliament in Cape Town on 16 May. Thereafter, he and his parents will travel to the Sutherland Observing site for the unveiling ceremony. Later in the evening, Sam will have his very own 1-m telescope for the night, with which to view the wonderful Sutherland night-sky.