HYDERABAD: Osmania University has a distinction of being the only university in India having an exclusive department for Astronomy and Astrophysics and offering Masters of Science(M.Sc) in both subjects. It is the only university to have an observatory attached to it. Unfortunately, over the years the department has been left to rot due to lack of support from the government.
No telescope for research
Students from the astronomy department in OU are forced to go to TN, Maharashtra or Jammu and Kashmir for conducting research even though the department has an observatory at Rangapur, in Ranga Reddy district.
The Rangapur observatory has a 1.2 metre aperture telescope which is required for getting the necessary data for conducting research. Moreover, the telescope which became defunct was a manually operated one whereas well known research institutes are now using computerized telescopes.
The department had submitted a proposal long time back for buying a 0.5 metre aperture computerised telescope for Rangapur observatory which has been ignored by the university. As of now two telescopes of 12 inches aperture are available which are useful for only basic practical lessons.
Only four teachers
Only four teachers are working in the astronomy department whereas it has a sanction of 16. All four are assistant professors. Faculty crunch resulting in increased burden on teachers is also affecting the research.
“The department has had golden years abuzz with activity by students from OU and other universities as well to work at our observatory. Our library has 23,000 books and ephemeris dating back to 1800s. The present faculty and students are doing their best to continue the good work but support is required from the university and government,” Dr D Shanti Priya, head of Astronomy department said.
“It is sad that the astronomy department which is one of its kind in the country is left in such pathetic state of affairs. The government even took away the department’s land which it had under Nizamia observatory in the extension works of CM’s camp office.
All departments in OU are suffering due to the indifference being shown by government towards higher education as whole,” Battu Satyanarayana, President of OU Teachers Association said.