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University of Karachi installs 16-inch telescope at ISPA Observatory

By Our Correspondent
July 23, 2019

The Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA), University of Karachi, on Monday installed a new 16-inch telescope at the ISPA Observatory.

Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) Chairman Major General Amir Nadeem and KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi jointly inaugurate the project.

The inaugural ceremony was also attended by the members of the Suparco and the ISPA, Dean Faculty of Sciences Professor Dr Tabassum Mehboob, Dean Faculty of Pharmacy Professor Dr Raheela Ikram, faculty members of various departments, ISPA Founding Director Professor Dr Javed Qamar, students and field experts.

The upgrade, automation of the dome, the fixation of 16-inch computerised Meade telescope and renovation of the observatory building were carried out by the Suparco. The project was completed with Rs6 million and it had the ability to keep the record of 65,000 autronical objects with the help of its go-to-technology. All the expenses of the project were also borne by the Suparco.

Nadeem said that when he took office last year, he thought the project was needed to be done on a priority basis. “We took several steps and eventually we have completed and jointly inaugurated the project.”

He shared his opinion that the research work would be as good as the equipment which was available for students and faculty and therefore, the installation and commissioning of the telescope would help in improving the quality of research at the ISPA.

“The Suparco will continue to assist the ISPA and other departments of the KU. We will further support research work in the domain of space sciences and other fields to contribute to space programme.”

The vice chancellor expressed his gratitude to the Chairman Suparco and the member of Suparco, Amir Iqbal, for participating in the inauguration ceremony of the telescope installation at the ISPA Observatory, and said that he was grateful to the Suparco for their financial support to upgrade the existing ISPA Observatory.

“I am pleased to know that the ISPA and the Suparco are collaborating to promote space science education. We would like to see the ISPA reaching new heights in the coming future.”

He expressed that the development in space research over the past decades had been responsible for bringing revolutionary concepts and advancement in long-distance reliable communication, remote sensing of earth resources and the environment, planetary science, astronomy and cosmology.

He shared that the ISPA was providing space science education to undergraduate students and conducting research programmes for graduate students.

Iraqi mentioned that the upgradation work of the observatory was a notable achievement for the ISPA. The 16-inch diameter telescope would provide an excellent opportunity for the students and faculty members of the varsity to observe astronomical events and to carry out research in the field of observational astronomy.

Earlier, Director ISPA Professor Dr Muhammad Jawed Iqbal informed the audience that the Suparco and the ISPA signed a memorandum of understanding for upgrading the existing astronomical observatory with larger modern telescope in comparison with the exiting one.

“We can observe planets of solar system, including Mars, Saturn, Jupiter’s moon, and astronomical events, including transit of Venus, Ring Nebula and Orion Nebula, and the nearby Andromeda galaxies, Large Magellnic Cloud and Small Magellnic Cloud.”

He said that the main objective of the project was to undertake collaborative research studies and students’ projects between the Suparco and the ISPA. The upgraded astronomical observatory would also support space awareness and education programmes for students, the public and the media.

The director mentioned that the former chairman of the Suparco, Maj Gen Bilal Ahmed, had played a significant role in the project. We had signed the MoU during his tenure and he initiated the collaboration of the Suparco with the ISPA.

He said that Bilal had also appreciated the efforts of the ISPA to promote education and research in the fields of space science and the installation of the telescope was a milestone for the university.

Iqbal told the participants that it is was optical telescope which was used to observe light wave portion of the spectrum coming from the astronomical objects, while a radio telescope studies portion of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by astronomical objects.

He added that the ISPA was also planning to install a small radio telescope as the Higher Education Commission would release the approved project grant. He informed that one of his PhD students was doing research on dark matter and the ISPA had recently published article on the accelerated expansion of universe in the European Journal of Physics.

Later, Nadeem, the chief guest, and the vice chancellor unveil the plaque and planted a sapling at the ISPA Observatory.