In a move to boost wildlife tourism, Maharashtra government will soon launch star gazing activity in the Pench Tiger Reserve near Nagpur.
Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) of Pench Tiger reserve M S Reddy said the unique concept of including star gazing with wildlife tourism was probably the first of its kind in the country.
"We have procured telescope and installation is being done at Piparia. It will be available for viewing after 6pm to take advantage of the dark sky in the forest area," Reddy said.
The project is being handled by astronomer Malhar Kendurkar and Pravin Jat from the office of Chief Conservator of Forests. Jat said the type of telescope in Pench tiger reserve is a Dobsonian GOTO telescope with 11 inch mirror which has a focal length of 1200mm. It has been procured from Skywatcher company.
"A permanent enclosure for tourists is being constructed following which the star gazing activity will start for tourists," he said.
The Dobsonian mount telescope design is optimised for visually observing faint deep sky objects including the Orian Nebula.
Jat said the telescope has computerised software and includes a catalogue of 5,000 sky objects. When a object has been selected from the catalogue, the telescope zooms towards the object.