Modi to activate optical telescope from Belgium

Modi to activate optical telescope from Belgium

Modi to activate optical telescope from Belgium

Asia’s largest general purpose optical telescope will get its first light Wednesday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel in Brussels to remotely activate the astronomical observation facility set up at Devasthal near Nainital in Uttarakhand.

Modi will have a one-day tour of Belgium on Wednesday. One of the highlight of the visit is going to be the technical activation of the 3.6-metre optical telescope at Devasthal, about 60 km from Nainital. Belgium supported India to build the largest general purpose telescope of Asia. It will be managed by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) based in Nainital.

Nandini Singla, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs, on Monday told journalists that prime minister would join his Belgian counterpart in Brussels to remotely activate the telescope, which would be a symbol of growing cooperation between India and Belgium in cooperation in the field of science and technology.

The telescope was located at Devasthal, which is located 2,500 metres above mean sea level and have ideal climatic conditions without city light pollution.

The Rs 140-crore telescope at Devasthal is more powerful than the one at Girwali near Pune and managed by the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics. It is also more powerful than the ones at Hanle in Leh and Veinu-Bappu observatory in Tamil Nadu.

The telescope has been manufactured and supplied by AMOS (Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems, Belgium) and cost of the telescope has been contributed by Belgian Government, according to the MEA officials.

The new telescope at Devasthal will help study magnetic field structure of stars, chemical evolution of Milky-Way, search for extra solar planets, kinematics of stars in the outer region and the halo of the Milky-Way, polarization properties of BL Lacertae object and other galactic nuclei, near infra-red spectroscopy and narrow band imaging of the galactic HII regions and star clusters to understand the formation of stars and their evolution in different environment.

It will also help in optical spectroscopy and deep time resolved imaging of galactic X-Ray binaries.