The concept of MeerLICHT originated at the second ThunderKAT science workshop (Oxford, June 2012). The best way to characterise a radio transient at optical wavelengths is by having a dedicated optical telescope with a matching field of view co-stare at the same part of the sky at the same time – in this way we observe the optical behaviour before, during, and after the radio outburst.

An initial partnership was formed between the Netherlands and South Africa, consisting of Radboud University, NWO, the University of Cape Town and the SAAO, with a commitment of resources towards the realisation of MeerLICHT.

The design of the MeerLICHT telescope followed on the back of the BlackGEM project, where the MeerLICHT telescope is the prototype telescope for a larger array of optical telescopes aimed at detecting optical counterparts of sources of gravitational wave emission.

Pre-construction phase: 2012-2015