Cosmology today relies heavily on observational astronomy, a technology-dependent subject that requires significant funding. Our department is at an advanced stage of setting up a Positional Astronomy Centre (PAC) aimed at providing hands-on training in observational astronomy to M.Sc. students. The PAC was set up in late February 2018, and since then, we have taken pictures of several celestial objects, including the Orion Nebula, Moon, Mars, and Jupiter. The PAC is equipped with modern telescopes and other state-of-the-art equipment that will allow students to conduct astronomical observations and experiments.
- 14-inch Celestron EdgeHD computerized telescope
- Celestron 11″ Edge HD CGX computerized telescope
- Celestron Skyprodigy 6 computerized 6″ SCT telescope
- SSP-3 photometer for measuring brightness of celestial objects
- Canon R6 camera for deep sky imaging
- Celestron NexImage 5 camera for planetary imaging
- Software tools such as DeepSky Stacker and Photoshop for image processing and editing
The PAC’s facilities are modern and state-of-the-art, providing students with the tools they need to conduct high-quality astronomical research. The telescopes are equipped with the latest technology for high-precision imaging, and the photometer is highly sensitive, allowing for accurate measurements of even the faintest stars. The PAC also has cameras specifically designed for deep sky and planetary imaging, as well as software tools for image processing and editing.
The Positional Astronomy Centre (PAC) is currently engaged in two research projects. The first project is astrophotography, which involves using the PAC’s telescopes and cameras to capture high-resolution images of celestial objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. These images are then processed using software tools such as DeepSky Stacker and Photoshop to create stunning images that are used for research and outreach purposes.
The second research project being undertaken at the PAC is the measurement of the brightness of variable stars using the SSP-3 photometer. This project involves monitoring the brightness of specific variable stars over time and analyzing the data to understand the physical properties of these stars.
The PAC is committed to promoting astronomy education and awareness in the Howrah region and beyond. To this end, we have developed a vigorous outreach program that aims to bring the wonders of the universe to young minds in middle and high-school levels as well as college-level students.
The program includes a portable computerized telescope that can be taken to far-flung rural areas where the Ramakrishna Mission has its institutional presence. The telescope will be used to provide hands-on training on telescope handling and introductory lessons on telescopes. We believe that these lessons will be popular with young minds and inspire them to learn more about astronomy.
In addition to introductory lessons, the outreach program will also include sighting programs aimed at making children familiar with heavenly bodies. For college-level students, observations related to lunar, planetary, and solar systems, as well as deep-sky stellar objects, will be arranged. We also encourage physics departments of local colleges to send interested students to work on small projects related to astronomy.
Finally, the outreach program includes open-house programs for young students and the common public. These programs will provide opportunities for people to learn about astronomy, view celestial objects through telescopes, and ask questions about the universe. We believe that these programs will be an important way to promote astronomy education and awareness in the region and beyond.
In the future, the PAC plans to expand its research projects to include the search for asteroids, comets, and other objects in the solar system. With its state-of-the-art telescopes and equipment, the PAC is well-equipped to undertake such projects and contribute to the field of observational astronomy.
Pictures of Moon & Stars taken by Faculty and Students of Dept. of Physics
1. The Moon
2. The Orion Nebula
3. The Jupitar
4. The Saturn