The late professor Tony Fairall (1943-2008) summarised the early years of the Astronomy Department at UCT in Physics in South Africa (eds. PR de Kock and H Moraal, published by the South African Institute of Physics in 2013). Here we summarise some of the highlights of the early years of the Astronomy Department.

Astronomy at the University of Cape Town started in the late 1950s and 1960s with the appointment of astronomers in the Physics Department. Successively, Don Fernie, Dixon and Pat Wild were appointed in the Physics Department. They participated in various observational programs at the Royal Observatory.

In 1970, the Astronomy Department was formally established at UCT. Next year, in 2020, the Department will celebrate 50 years of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town with a range of activities.