Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) has unveiled the first ever state-of-the-art deep-sky imaging telescopes in the country.
IUB received two Unistellar Equinox Telescopes as a gift from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics of University of Toronto (U of T), Canada, as part of the latter’s global outreach program.
The telescopes were officially unveiled at a program at the university auditorium in Dhaka on Thursday (Mar 9). Renowned writer and physicist Dr. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal officially unveiled the telescopes and inaugurated the “Durbin” (Duur Bishwer Nagarik) project as the Chief Guest.
At the program, Dr. Lamiya Mowla, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and an astronomer working on the James Webb Space Telescope, delivered a special public talk on “Ancient star clusters through James Webb Space Telescope”. The talk was followed by an open question-answer session between Dr. Mowla and the audience, which comprised several hundred students from different schools, colleges and universities.
The telescopes will be part of the Astronomy Lab under the Department of Physical Sciences of IUB. The images taken by them will be used by IUB students, especially the researchers at the Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS).
Dr. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal said, “Young men and women often ask me what would they have to do if they want to become an astronomer. I always tell them to study physics here and then go abroad for higher studies. I am extremely happy to know that IUB has taken this initiative to teach astronomy at the university level. I know IUB is developing a very good physics department here. I hope someday there will be an astronomy department as well.”
Dr. Lamiya Mowla said, “Special thanks to IUB and the Dunlap Institute for giving us the opportunity and space to open up deep space for students and astronomy enthusiasts of Bangladesh. I hope that we will be able to continue this collaboration in the future as well.”
IUB Vice Chancellor Tanweer Hasan, PhD, said, “IUB was the first university in Bangladesh to introduce observational astronomy research in 2020. This project is a major milestone in that effort. Creating new knowledge is one of the most important roles of a university. But it is also crucial for a university to impart that knowledge among not just its students, but spread it beyond classrooms. That is why, as part of IUB’s community engagement strategy, the Durbin project will be open for every one interested in astronomy.”
Dr. Khan Asad, Assistant Professor at IUB’s Department of Physical Sciences, coordinator of the Durbin project and the only professional astronomer in Bangladesh, said, “The Equinox telescopes are lightweight and portable. They are especially suited for taking images of the sky from light-polluted cities like Dhaka, but fainter objects can also be captured from darker locations. The telescopes do not have eyepieces, hence, can give the astronomy students and enthusiasts a feeling of how astronomical observations are done in reality by the modern astronomers.”
IUB Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof. Niaz Ahmed Khan, PhD, also spoke at the event among others. After the main program ended, the students and invited guests got the opportunity to observe a number of celestial bodies such as the Orion Nebula, Mars and the Moon from the IUB rooftop using the telescopes.
Under the Durbin project, which is a joint outreach and education program of IUB and U of T, as many as 16 “citizen astronomers”, at least 40% of whom are women as stipulated in the agreement, have been selected for getting trained in imaging with the telescopes and, later, lead the public outreach events organized for school and university students around the country.
In addition, IUB is already offering the unique but popular PHY 100 course for students without a math background. As part of this course, students will be doing projects on imaging using telescopes, which will also be used in other courses within the School of Engineering, Technology and Sciences.
BDST: 2046 HRS, MAR 12, 2023