India installs fourth-largest telescope at the world's highest observatory

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Hanle (Ladakh):  The astronomical observatory at Hanle, Ladakh, has always made Indian scientists proud. So far, based on its tremendous output, Indian scientists have published over 100 papers that have helped astronomers all over the world.

The world's highest observatory, at an altitude of near 15,000 feet, is remotely operated by the astronomers from Indian institute of astrophysics in Bangalore.

Hanle is considered the perfect observing site on earth, having 250 clear nights in a year- it's dry and the monsoon doesn't reach here. And it is now getting ready to install the fourth-largest telescope in the world, after the ones in Namibia, Spain and USA.

"It's a concave mirror; its front is coated with aluminum. Light falls on to this mirror, begin to converge and move upward to the secondary top. Light falls on to that, gets reflected and comes down to where the instruments are mounted," said Prof Tushar Prabhu, from Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

The 21-metre large Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment (MACE) will be India's own. It will be jointly set up within next two years by Institute of Astrophysics and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

"India in terms of knowledge is one of the leading countries in the world. As far as astronomy is concerned we are now partnering with several other countries in the top ranking facilities. For example, in next 6 or 7 years a new facility will come up - a 30-metre telescope - and India is partner of this global project and this facility will bring to Indian astronomers a possibility of using best telescopes in the world. So basically, the approach is not only to build new facilities in India but also to partner with best facilities of the world," said Siraj Hassan, Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.

Astronomers say Cherenkov will give a major boost to international efforts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the universe since it will be the only such facility in Eastern Hemisphere.

Hanle is providing perfect 360 degree view for the observatory and this site is all set to become world's fourth largest observatory facility within next two years. With this India will be mapping skies with more perfection and quick results.


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