India’s first robotic telescope opens its eyes to the universe

India’s newest telescope has started observing the skies. The telescope located at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) at Hanle in Ladakh is the country’s first robotic telescope and the first one designed to observe dynamic or transient events in the universe.

“The telescope saw its first light on the night of June 12,” G C Anupama, in-charge of IAO and the Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST) at Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bangalore, told India Science Wire.

The Rs 3.5 crore telescope is a joint project of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB). The project is fully funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the PIRE project, administered by Indo US Science and Technology Forum. Anupama of IIA and Varun Bhalerao of IIT Bombay are the principal investigators of the project in India.

Young astronomers who were in Hanle are excited over the development. “For the first light, targets were chosen from the Messier catalog – a catalog of nearby, bright astronomical sources accessible from the northern hemisphere. These chosen regions are not only rich in stars, thereby allowing for various image quality tests but are also visually stunning,” recalled Atharva Patil, a project student and Shubham Srivastav, a postdoctoral fellow – both from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay- while speaking to

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