The National Research and Innovation Agency revealed the latest developments in the construction of the Timau National Observatory to be completed in 2023.
Kupang National Observatory Station Coordinator, Abdul Rahman, revealed the current development status of the Timau National Observatory has been the installation of a secondary mirror on 26th July 2023. After that, the installation of primary and tertiary mirrors will be made.
“The main instrument, namely the 3.8m telescope and its buildings including the dome with a diameter of 14m, has been built around 55 percent. This main instrument is targeted to be completed in the next two to three months,” said Rachman, quoted from the Kupang National Observatory Station Coordinator website.
Rachman explained that the operation of the observatory at the foot of Mount Timau, East Nusa Tenggara, this year would be a historic moment in space research in Indonesia.
“This is intended as a national facility that accommodates advanced space research, and besides that, it also plays a role in interdisciplinary scientific development and various other related activities,” he said.
Indonesia has a Bosscha observatory in West Java. The differences with the Timau observatory lie in the location and the main instrument used.
The Timau location was chosen for the construction of a national observatory because the sky is very low in light pollution, and access to the location is relatively easy. Nationally, continued Rachman, East Nusa Tenggara has sky conditions that are less cloudy than other regions in Indonesia so that the number of days with relatively clear skies is above 65 percent per year.
“Very low light pollution means a more natural sky, means it is darker so that it allows observations of dimmer space objects. Another differentiator is that Timau is equipped with a larger telescope so that it can observe dimmer celestial objects and more modern supporting instruments,” explained Rachman.
Head of the Aviation and Space Research Organisation, Robertus Heru Triharjanto, revealed that the development of the Timau National Observatory has an important meaning, not only for Indonesian astronomers but also globally. The quality of telescope-based astronomical facilities is measured by how many nights in one year the observations can be made and how many hours in a night.
“Mount Timau is a place that can provide the most opportunities for clear and dark skies in Indonesia,” said Triharjanto.
Triharjanto hopes that with the completion of the Timau National Observatory’s construction, a group of astronomers and astrophysics scientists will form which will become a global reference for Indonesia. This special Space Observation Facility will not only invite scientists from all over the world to participate in scientific research but will also become one of the observation sites for man-made space objects.
“What is important to observe are satellites that are no longer functioning and former orbiting rocket parts. These objects can interfere with satellites that are still operating or even launch satellites in the future,” concluded Triharjanto.