Terms of Reference


The Sutherland Telescopes Users’ Committee (STUC), founded in February 2011, will act as an advisory group to the SAAO director on scientific, technical and operational issues relating to the running of the SAAO telescopes in Sutherland and other telescope facilities of the Observatory. Among others, the committee will give regular feedback and advice on procedures for allocating observing time, make recommendations regarding upgrades and new instruments for the telescopes, as well as ways of maximising the scientific productivity and international competitiveness of the Observatory.

STUC will initially be made up of 7 members from regular users of the telescopes, who have either volunteered or been nominated for this role.  The intention is that STUC represents the views and interests of the full range of South African astronomy and institutions. The committee will make recommendations on whether to increase or decrease the number of committee members, as well as on the composition and further responsibilities at their first meeting.

Composition of STUC

  • STUC should have representation from most of the SA regions and institutions that have users of the SAAO telescopes, and includes one international member.
  • Members should mostly be observational astronomers, who are experienced users of the SAAO facilities, but this can also include instrumentation and software background.
  • The SAAO director and the head of Telescope Operations are are ex-officio members.
  • STUC membership will be decided and agreed on by the committee.

Functions/responsibilities of the committee

  • To advise and recommend to the SAAO director on how best to operate the telescopes in Sutherland in order to maximise scientific productivity and international competitiveness
  • To give feedback and advice on procedures for allocating observing time and relevant instrumentation priorities for the telescopes.
  • To act as a link between SAAO and the wider community of users, both locally and abroad.
  • To advise the director on stakeholder and other related issues.
  • To provide the SAAO director with action items following STUC meetings.

Duration of membership

  • Membership should be for three years from the date of the first meeting. Elections for new members will occur annually (starting in 2014) when ~one-third of the committee is replaced.
  • The committee will elect a chair, who will serve a 3-year term.