Amateur, as well as professional astronomical activities in the twin cities, are set to receive a boost, with a large telescope facility becoming functional at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IITH). With this Telescope, IITH will be a part of the Indian astronomical community hosting a large telescope for an effective outreach with high-quality deliverance.
The telescope, which comes with a Crayford focuser, and 1650 mm focal length, also boasts of a 355 mm optical diameter mirror which is the second largest among the IITs, after Kanpur.
The telescope will enable observation of the deep skies and faint objects which are invisible to detect with a small telescope. Small craters on the lunar surface, rings of Saturn are some of the small features that can be resolved with the telescope. An advanced digital camera will be used to record images and transient astronomical phenomena like meteor showers. Although the telescope would primarily aim for the outreach and night sky observational training programs, it has the capabilities of delivering a research-level performance which will be explored subsequently.
Due to its superior quality images, the data from the observatory may serve the national and international astronomical researchers by supplying supportive data. Such collaboration will provide a rare opportunity for the facility to become a part of the international observatory community so that IITH will be a part of major astronomical discoveries and become a recognized centre for astronomy in India.
The project is funded by Prof B.S. Murty, the Director, IIT Hyderabad, and managed by Dr Mayukh Pahari, Department of Physics. The facility was inaugurated on Sunday, by Padmashri and Padmabhushan, Dr B.N. Suresh, Chancellor and the Founding Director of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.
Prof Murty said, “The enthusiasm and the curiosity of young students about objects in the sky are limitless. With this large telescope, we will provide them with an opportunity to study celestial objects in greater detail than other small telescopes conventionally used for outreach programs. Activities like stargazing training programs, observing astronomical transients, working with celestial images will enhance their knowledge and add to their sense of human connection with space. We would also ensure that students from schools and various colleges in and around Hyderabad also get the advantage of this large telescope through various programs organized by the Astronomy Club of IITH.”