IIT Hyderabad set up its first astronomical observatory with a large telescope

The Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH) launched a telescope on the 75th Independence day of India. The 14-inch telescope is located on the Kandi campus.

It was inaugurated by Padmashri and Padmabhushan, Dr B N Suresh, Chancellor and the Founding Director of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.

The telescope will help both amateur sky gazers and will be primarily used for outreach and night sky observational training programs. However, it is powerful enough to help astronomy researchers in their research-level observations as well.

Image of moon's craters as captured by IITH's new telescope. Image credit: IITH

Dr Mayukh Pahari, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics said, “Unlike other observatories designed for the outreach program, our facility will provide a chance to work with high-quality astronomical images from deep-sky objects as well as transient events so that school/ college students may have opportunities to contribute to the astronomical research.”

It is equipped with a huge mirror with an optical diameter of 355 mm with a focal length of 1650 mm. Such a large mirror along with a Crayford focuser and elegant truss tube design will assist in astronomy.

IITH is one of the eight new IITs established by the Government of India in 2008. This telescope is believed to be the second-largest among IITs after IIT Kanpur.

It will enable observation of the deep sky and faint objects which were never possible to detect with a small telescope. From small craters on the lunar surface to the rings of Saturn and meteor showers, this telescope will use an advanced digital camera to record these images and other astronomical phenomena.

The project is funded by Prof B S Murty, the Director, IIT Hyderabad, and managed by Dr Mayukh Pahari, Department of Physics.

“The enthusiasm and the curiosity of young students about objects in the sky are limitless. With this large telescope, we will provide them an opportunity to study celestial objects in greater detail than other small telescopes conventionally used for outreach programs," Mr Murthy told The Hindu.

"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,” he added.

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