The Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Calcutta, installed an advanced 14″ Cassegrain Schmidt Telescope at its APC Road campus on Monday. This telescope will help students train for the observational part of Astrophysics so they may opt for this subject during their research career. The university had sanctioned the purchase of this telescope and related accessories under the DST PURSE Program in 2011.

“The telescope has a computerised equatorial mount system, Celestron Skyris 44SC Astronomical Camera and Optech SSP-3A UBVRI Photometer. With this advanced telescope students will be able to perform observations of astrophysical objects like the moon, stars, star clusters and even galaxies. The photometer will help in photometry of astronomical objects and measure the period of variable stars. This is the only telescope of its kind in Kolkata. There are two other 14″ telescopes at St Xavier’s College and the Kalyani Univesrity but they are of different models. A 14″ telescope was also installed at the Positional Astronomy Centre several years ago but this is an advanced version,” said Bipash Dasgupta, scientific officer, M P Birla Planetarium and M P Birla Institute of Fundamental Research. He along with Arvind Paranpye, director, Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai, installed the telescope.

The Department of Applied Mathematics has a regular faculty of 12 and the areas covered are continuum, solid and quantum mechanics, general relativity, astrophysics, geophysics, plasma physics, dynamic system, stochastic process and others. Tanuka Chattopadhyay, professor and teacher-in-charge (telescope) will be in charge of the telescope that was installed on Monday. Among those present at its inauguration were univesrity vice chancellor Sugata Marjit, Pro-VC Swagata Sen and others.

“The CCD camera will help take magnified snapshots of various objects. Using this, students can measure the diameter of various extended objects. The images can be saved and analysed using special software. Using the photometer, we can measure the brightness of variable stars and track their movement. There are accessories like spectroscopes, using which we can carry out other studies. In the last phase of this project, we will involve MSc students to perform dissertation using this telescope so they have some knowledge of observational astrophysics. We shall gradually involve post-graduate students of other related departments, faculties and research scholars who would be interested to use it. We shall also try to arrange advanced workshops and educational programmes with this,” Chattopadhyay said.

The professor also plans to get batches of school children to watch special events through these telescope. There can be special planet sessions that will help the young minds get a better understanding of outer space and encourage them to take up studies in Observational Astrophysics in the future. During the day, a talk on Astronomical Co-ordinate System and Celestron Telescope was delivered by Dasgupta. A night sky observation programme was also arranged from the rooftop of N R Sen Memorial Building where the telescope has been installed.


By Adam