Centre for Astronomy and Astophysics (IUCCA) was founded on December 29, 1988, when
Professor Yash Pal, the then Chairman of the University Grants Commission, unveiled the
Foundation Stone in front of small gathering of well-wishers gathered on the grounds, where
the IUCAA campus was to come up.
The idea of the Inter-University centres had been introduced by the
University Grants Commission in the mid-1980s in order to provide advanced centralized
facilities for subjects not adequately covered in the university departments and colleges.
IUCAA was the second centre to be set up and its mandate is to provide such facilities in
astronomy and astrophysics.
The brainstorming for the proposed centre began in 1987 and by the
middle of 1988 the Project Report (PR) was prepared by a Steering Committee of scientists.
The PR defines the aims and objectives of the centre, its modus operandi, the required
staff profile and the buildings needed for its many activities and it has served as the
guide document for IUCAA right from Day 1 of its existence.
By a generous gesture, the Government of Maharashtra leased to the
Centre a plot of land admeasuring about twenty acres situated within the pleasant campus
of the University of Pune. The distinguished architect Charles Correa was entrusted with
the job of giving shape to the IUCAA campus that not only did justice to all its academic
progarammes and interactive role but also fulfilled the highest aesthetic criteria.
IUCAA began its operations in 1988 from a small room in the Golay
Bungalow of the University of Pune within a few hundred metres of the present IUCAA
campus. IUCAA'S own building programme began with the construction of a modest shed called
ADITI. The first lot of staff housing was completed in 1991, the main institutional
buildings in 1992, the auditorium in 1993, and the recreation centre in 1994.
IUCAA was created with the objective of reviving the teaching, research
and development in astronomy and astrophysics in the university sector. It is indeed necessary to adopt a multipronged approach which includes providing
research facilities to the university academics, arranging pedagogical activities like
schools, workshops and refresher courses, special efforts at instrumentation, supporting
guest-observations in astronomical observatories and a science popularisation programme
directed at all strata of the general public, particularly the school students.
Eightfold way: Basic Research, advance research workshops and schools
guest observer programmes, interaction with GMRT, Visitors and associates programmes,
M.Sc, Ph.D programmes, Helping nucleation of A&A in universities, Refresher courses.
Perhaps the most elegant of all IUCAA's buildings is the Library,
housed in the Barahamihira block. Containing some 20,000 books and subscribing to about
100 scientific journals, the IUCAA library is one of the most advanced modern libraries,
specialising in astronomy and astrophysics in India.
IUCAA's Instrumentation Laboratory is set up to encourage a do-it
yourself culture in astronomical instrumentation in the university departments and
colleges. From simple projects like photometers, to more extensive ones like an automated
14-inch telescope or research instruments like and imaging polarimeter, instruments are
made here by the IUCAA staff in collaboration with interested faculty members from the
university sector. The laboratory has an optics wing and an electronics wing to handle
The Computer Centre and its associated astronomical data centre have
also proved to be indispensable to the astronomical research at IUCAA. The computer centre
has a network of some 30 networked minisupercomputer work stations, which can be shared by
and ethernet link all through the Aryabhata Block. The data centre provides online
computer acess to world's leading astronomy databases.
To facilitate the usage of its Pune facilites by the university
academics, IUCAA has funds earmarked under its associateship programme. Under this
programme an associate member can travel to Pune and stay on the campus for several weeks
at a stretch to carry out his/her research work. The number of associates is expected to
grow progressively to about 100.
Facilities For Visitors
Since its manifold activities depend on visitors, whether as associates,
or resource persons or as students, IUCAA's campus has been designed to be user-friendly.
For short term visitors, the Nalanda Hostel provides single and double room accommodation
with modern conoveniences. Likewise, the Takshashila flatlets ae meant for visiting
faculty on long term programmes or for post-doctoral fellows.
The visitors have to eat and amuse themselves too! The canteen
facilities in the Ballava block take care of the former while Chittaranjan (the Recreation
Cenre in the Akashganga complex, across the Vainu Bappu Road) provides for the latter. The
canteen has a general dinign hall with self service as well as private dining room for
special meals with prior arrangement. The Recreation Centre h as a swimming pool, tennis
courts, and indoor badminton court, and ta bles for cards, chess and table tennis. For the
health conscious there is a gynasium, and those who wish to relax can do so in the veranda
lounge with a TV set.
IUCAA organizes pedagogical activities both in the campusses of
universities and colleges as well as on its own campus. The three lecture halls in the
Bhaskara block provide facilities for talks, seminars and lecture courses for various
occasions. Bhaskara 1 accommodates 80, Bhaskara 2 can take 45, while Bhaskara 3 can hold
large lectures for upto 150.
The 500-seater Chandrasekhar Auditorium in the Aditi campus is superbly
equipped with audio-visual aids for conferences, public lectures and cultural programmes.