ST. XAVIER’S COLLEGE KOLKATA
A Dream Realized.
St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country, has achieved one more mile stone in the field of science and research by setting up two new Observatories at its campus :
The DAY OBSERVATORY has a novel design of an experiment hall with a
retractable roof which slides off for solar observations to be facilitated. The
College also has plans of using this sliding roof observatory later for night
observations using small telescopes. A computer lab has been provided along with
this observatory for processing, study and archiving of data. Currently, the
solar experiments which are going to be carried out here are:
modeling the solar limb darkening effect, measuring the solar constant, Fraunhofer absorption lines, determination of the temperature of an artificial star.
In 2010, the College, having responded to the announcement of the FIST proposal by DST, was able to procure grants for obtaining a modern telescope. Finally in 2012, it seems that time is ripe for the observatory to become functional again. The Telescope procured is a top end model CGE Pro 1400 HD from Celest,ron, USA and is one of the world best Telescopes. Its salient features being 14” EdgeHD Optics with 3910 mm focal length (f/11) and computerized German equatorial mount. It is designed to be used for night time observations for professional study and research in astronomy, astrophysics and particle physics.
St. Xavier's College Observatory (Now Fr. Lafont Observatory) was set up in
1865 by Father Eugene Lafont for spectroscopic studies of sun and planetary
atmosphere in conjugation with other European observatories. It was this
observatory which predicted the killer cyclone of November 1867 and saved
hundreds of lives.
By 1875, Fr. Lafont stocked up the observatory with a giant 8-inch refractor telescope and a spectroscope. These and the huge metallic dome (22-feet diameter) were imported from Belgium. Even today, the telescope is one of the biggest in the country. Under the guidance of Father Lafont, St. Xavier’s College also built a meteorological and a physical laboratory. The laboratory fell into disuse in 1930 and by 2005 most of its equipment were either lost or had gathered too much rust or dust to stay useful.
The College has designed comprehensive plans for an expansive usage of the Observatories, both on short term as well as long term programs. The short term course programs will include CCD calibration, photometry of nearby bright stars, Measuring lunar topography and occultation, Transits of Planets, Atmospheric extinction studies and Solar observations. The long term will provide for the study on Observation of variable stars, Asteroids and comets, Astronomy Projects for B.Sc students, Exchange programs and workshops for colleges as well as Outreach program for schoolchildren. Besides these programs, the other highlights are Exchange programs for conducting workshops for students belonging to the Jesuit Colleges, Extended Programs for Remote observations using further resources and EXOPLANET Studies. The College has a future plan for development of a center for research around this observatory, OSCAR: Center for Research in Observational Sciences and Computational Astrophysics.
S t. Xavier's College started a P.G course in Physics with special emphasis in Astro/Particle Physics back in 2006, in the wake of the College gaining the autonomous status. The course has major strengths in imparting quality education in computational physics, interfacing techniques, experiments in solar physics, data analysis using virtual observatory resources and numerical astrophysics apart from special theory papers offered in astrophysics, cosmology, high energy physics, astro/particle physics and space sciences. Students of the course benefited by studying in a research ambiance and having regular exposure to national institutes through yearly visits to NCRA, IUCAA, IAA, ARIES etc
Director : Fr. Felix Raj, S.J.
Asst Director : Dr.Shibaji Banerjee.
For Further details:
Fr. Eugene Lafont Observatory
St. Xavier’s College,
30, Mother Teresa Sarani,
Tel : 033-22551100/22551164/
Fax : 033-22879966