International Year of Astronomy
The year 2009 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by the great Italian scientist Galileo Galilei. The United Nations General Assembly have voted to adopt the year as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) at the instance of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The theme of IYA2009 is `The Universe, Yours to Discover'. IAU has proposed several IYA2009 global cornerstone projects to promote widespread access to the universal knowledge of fundamental science through the excitement of astronomy and sky-observing experiences. Developing a simple and cheap optical telescope, `The Galileoscope', for wide distribution to the people is one, if not the most important, of the projects envisaged under this scheme.
In the context of IYA2009, IIA has adopted the motto `Astronomy for all'. Keeping in mind our expertise in optical astronomy and our mandate of disseminating the knowledge and practice of astrophysics as widely as possible, we have concentrated our efforts in designing a sturdy, affordable and easy-to-handle Newtonian telescope of about 4-inch aperture. Our efforts have led to the creation of a prototype with the following specifications:
SPECIFICATION/DIMENSIONS OF THE TELESCOPE
NEWTONIAN 100mm F6, ALT-AZIMUTH MOUNT
Primary mirror Diameter - 100mm
Focal Length - 600mm
Focal Ratio- 6
Tube inside diameter -104mm
Focuser height - 75mm
Diagonal Mirror minor axis - 25mm
Tube Length - 100mm
We would like to have this telescope fabricated in large numbers by a suitable engineering company with expertise in manufacturing optical instruments. Our plan is to make the telescope available throughout India. In addition to direct viewing, the telescope will also have the facility to do astrophotography which is becoming increasingly popular. During 2009 our scientists will visit educational institutions, science popularisation centres and other public institutions to train people in the usage of this telescope and demonstrate simple experiments that can be performed with the instrument.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics has been entrusted with the task of putting up a tableau during the Republic Day Parade on Jan 26, 2009 on behalf of the Ministry of Science and Technology as a part of celebration of the IYA 2009. A theme has been conceived to highlight and showcase the achievements and future programmes of the Indian astronomy.