Skip to main content

Scientific Rational

Scientific Rationale

The Devasthal observatory is a new astronomical site in India, located at an altitude of 2450-m in the Kumaun region of the Himalayas in the district Nainital of the state of Uttarakhand. This observatory is operated by the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES; Nainital, India) and currently hosts three telescopes: a 1.3-m optical telescope, the 3.6-m DOT (Devasthal Optical Telescope) and the 4-m ILMT (International Liquid Mirror Telescope). The DOT started its scientific operations in April 2017 and is equipped with four back-end instruments (IMAGER for optical imaging; TIRCAM2 for near-infrared imaging, ADFOSC for imaging and low-resolution spectroscopy; TANSPEC for infrared imaging and medium-resolution spectroscopy) and a high-resolution spectrograph is expected to become available at the end of 2024. The ILMT recently saw its first light (press release DST, press release ULiège, press release ROB) and is expected to start the scientific observation at the beginning of 2023.

In order to foster collaboration between scientists and engineers of Belgium and India, the Belgo-Indian Network for Astronomy & Astrophysics (BINA) was initiated in 2014. Its main aim is to stimulate research in the front line areas of the solar system, solar physics, galactic and extragalactic astronomy with an emphasis on observations taken with the Indo-Belgian telescopes and other existing ground- and space-based observational facilities accessible through the collaboration between these two countries. BINA is jointly funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST, Govt. of India; DST/INT/Belg/P-02/2014 & DST/INT/Belg/P09/2017) and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO, Govt. of Belgium; BL/11/IN07 & BL/33/IN12), who are providing fund for work visits (in both directions) and the organisation of workshops. So far, two BINA workshops have taken place.