Solar system now a telescope away

Physicist and director-general of the BM Birla Science Centre B G Sidharth demonstrates to the audience the use of the Ultra modern C11 telescope at the GP Birla Observatory and Astronomical Research Centre in Hyderabad on Tuesday. AFP

Thanks to the initiative of G P Birla Observatory here and its highly modern and compact C11 telescope, the entire solar system will be just a telescope away henceforth.

With the help of the telescope at the Birla Observatory and Astronomical Centre, built at a cost of Rs 20 crore, one may gaze with ease even at the “exoplanets” or planets orbiting stars other than the earth’s sun.

The observatory on the peak of Naubat Pahad, popularly known as the Birla mandir in Hyderabad, will be formally inaugurated on November 17, though it may take some more time for people to flock.

The sophisticated C-11 telescope uses German technology with automation and high range electronic devices, enabling viewers to see stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects far beyond the solar system.

B G Sidharth, director of B M Birla Science Centre, said a real-time view of cosmos at the observatory, instead of the virtual one presently offered at the Birla Planetarium, will attract students, astronomy enthusiasts as well as professionals  in large numbers.
“The sky-gaze will infuse excitement of science into a generation driven purely by economy, says  Sidharth.

“It is another milestone for us at the Birla Science Centre where over the years we have served millions of people by bringing the mysteries of science, astronomy and  archaeology,” says Nirmala Birla, wife of the late G P Birla. The new centre is located in a five-storey building spread over 65,000 sq ft.

New courses for all

Groups of about 30 members may visit the observatory with prior appointment and watch the celestial wonders. A total of six or seven telescopes, including the specially designed C11, in collaboration with the Paris-based “Uranoscope de France,” will be mounted on the building. Guidance about usage will be provided by scientific and technical officers. Also to be incorporated are other facilities for enabling photography.

New courses in Astronomy will be launched by the Science Centre after declaring the observatory open.

First in line will be a three-month certificate course for just anybody interested in the cosmos. To be launched in December, the course will comprise about 20 to 25 lectures along with sessions of planet observation. Depending on the response, more courses will be introduced, Sidharth added.

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