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World's largest solar telescope coming up in Ladakh

India is expected to start building the world's largest solar telescope on the icy heights of Ladakh to study the sun's atmosphere and understand the formation of sun-spots and their decay process.
The Rs 300-crore project is expected to come up at either Hanle or Merak, which is very near to the Ladakh's Pangong lake along the Line of Actual Control with China.

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World's Highest Observatory In India Installed The 4th-Largest Telescope!



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The astronomical observatory at Hanle, Ladakh, has always made Indian scientists proud. 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.
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Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment
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Known as the Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment (MACE) facility, the Observatory here will be the only such facility in the eastern hemisphere, and at an altitude of 4,300 m above the mean sea level.
Hanle is considered one of the most suitable sites for such astronomical researches in the country due to its location -- high altitude and dry weather. It has an annual precipitation of less than seven cm and thus offer a large window for observations. On an average, observations can be made for 260 days in any year.

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National Large Optical-Infrared Telescope
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IIA setting up facility to study origin of universe

India is setting up a Rs 40 crore special facility to study and analyse gamma rays to unravel the mystery over the origins of the universe.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) is setting up a 21-metre diameter telescope here, which will collect the gamma rays in space and help astro-physicists in studying their origin.
IIA first installed The Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) here about a decade ago as the first step towards development of the National Large Optical-Infrared Telescope

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TACTIC and MACE gamma-ray telescopes
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Title: TACTIC and MACE gamma-ray telescopes
Authors: K.K. Yadav, for the HIGRO collaboration

The TACTIC gamma-ray telescope, equipped with a tracking light collector of ~9.5mē  area and a 349-pixel imaging camera has been in operation at Mount Abu in Western India since 2001. Having a sensitivity of detecting the Crab Nebula above 1.2 TeV at 5.0\sigma significance level in 25h of observations, this telescope has detected gamma-ray emissions from Mrk501 and Mrk421 and is presently being deployed for monitoring of AGNs. As a new Indian initiative in gamma-ray astronomy we are setting up the 21-m diameter MACE gamma-ray telescope at the high altitude (4200m asl) astronomical site at Hanle in North India. This telescope will deploy a 1408-pixels integrated camera at its focal plane. Designed to operate at a trigger threshold of ~30 GeV, this telescope is expected to be operational in 2011. Some of the salient features of the TACTIC telescope along with the results of its recent observations and the design details of the MACE telescope are presented in this paper.

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Title: Night sky at the Indian Astronomical Observatory during 2000-2008
Authors: C. S. Stalin, M. Hegde, D. K. Sahu, P. S. Parihar, G. C. Anupama, B. C. Bhatt, T. P. Prabhu (Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore)

We present an analysis of the optical night sky brightness and extinction coefficient measurements in UBVRI at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), Hanle, during the period 2003-2008. They are obtained from an analysis of CCD images acquired at the 2 m Himalayan Chandra Telescope at IAO. Night sky brightness was estimated using 210 HFOSC images obtained on 47 nights and covering the declining phase of solar activity cycle-23. The zenith corrected values of the moonless night sky brightness in mag/square arcsecs are 22.14(U), 22.42(B), 21.28(V), 20.54(R) and 18.86(I) band. This shows that IAO is a dark site for optical observations. No clear dependency of sky brightness with solar activity is found. Extinction values at IAO are derived from an analysis of 1325 images over 58 nights. They are found to be 0.36 in U-band, 0.21 in B-band, 0.12 in V-band, 0.09 in R-band and 0.05 in I-band. On average, extinction during the summer months is slightly larger than that during the winter months. No clear evidence for a correlation between extinction in all bands and the average night time wind speed is found. Also presented here is the low resolution moonless optical night sky spectrum for IAO covering the wavelength range 3000-9300 \AA. Hanle region thus has the required characteristics of a good astronomical site in terms of night sky brightness and extinction, and could be a natural candidate site for any future large aperture Indian optical-infrared telescope(s).

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The world's highest observatory is in the western Himalayas.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory, sits 4,517 meters above sea level in the village of Hanle, Ladakh, India. The site is a dry, cold desert with sparse human population and the ancient Hanle monastery as its nearest neighbour.

Hanle telescope
Latitude 32° 46'46.30"N Longitude 78°57'51.1"E

The Hanle telescope on Mount Saraswati is 200 meters higher than the Meyer-Womble Observatory, operated by the University of Denver deep in the Rocky Mountains.
The observatory became operational in the summer of 2001 is managed by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore.
The observatory's telescope, christened "Chandra" in honour of the India-born astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrashekhar, has a mirror a little over two meters wide.
The telescope can be operated by off-site astronomers using a dedicated satellite hotline.

Live webcam image from Hanle


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-- Edited by Blobrana at 21:09, 2006-06-12

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