Stephen Potter


Completed an MSc (in Astrophysics) at Queen Mary University, London, before embarking on PhD studies (on optical and X-ray studies of intermediate polars) at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) of the University College London. In May 1999, on completion of doctorate, took up a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) which became a permanent staff astronomer in position 2004. Duties (besides research) include support astronomer, instrument scientist (for the SALT and the SAAO telescopes and instruments) and software development. An author or coauthor on over 100 publications in refereed journals, mostly in the area of accreting close binary stars, including cataclysmic variables and X-ray binaries and recently on the interstellar medium. Since 2012 he has served on the SAAO executive as head of the Astronomy Division.


South African Astronomical Observatory and University of Johannesburg


The Intelligent Observatory (South African Astronomical Observatory)
Stephen Potter

In the era of multi-wavelength and multi-messenger astronomy there is a wealth of global and space based facilities that are providing unprecedented opportunities to explore transient phenomena and time domain astronomy.
To take full advantage of these opportunities requires upgrading and adapting of observatory operations and hardware. Hardware (instruments and telescopes) needs to be made as fully automated as possible, operations needs to be adapted in order to accommodate a variety of observing modes including responding to alerts, automated queues, remote and manual observing. All of this then needs to be “intelligently” managed and coordinated. The Intelligent Observatory (IO) is SAAO's (South African Astronomical Observatory) key programme to upgrade its optical/IR facilities and operations to take full advantage of these opportunities.

Grand Ballroom