Astronomical Research Center
The study of nature and the manner of creation of different things and the movement of celestial bodies have always attracted the intelligent ones to reflection.
The Holy Quran which is a Book of Guidance has always emphasized on reflection on the creation of the heavens and the earth and has invited mankind to ponder over these matters so that they may uncover the secrets of creation to the maximum extent possible for man. Those men, endowed with sound reasoning as their beacon of light, and who moved in the direction of divine guidance and divine gnosis, sought for the discovery of many secrets in this Holy Book and succeeded in attaining them.
On the other hand, curiosity, this great God-given gift to mankind, has motivated man to utilize it to tear down the veils of superstition and superficial knowledge with the weapons of science and discovery, to strive to subjugate the whole expanse of creation, to set foot on the distant planets and to perform a new miracle everyday.
In this regard, the eminent Shia scholars, who have always elucidated and interpreted the signs and verses of God, and who have carried the flag of excellence in science and knowledge throughout history, have now once more resolved to create a new proud achievement for themselves. It is this very idea that has led to the formation of this ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH CENTER whose services you are now going to be acquainted with.
This is to inform you, dear reader, about the Astronomical Research Center through five different sections.
Astronomical Research Center, with the grace of the Almighty Lord and the special favors of the Grand Baqiyyat-ul-laah (the Divine Remnant), has commenced its academic and research activities for the past one year. Under the special attention of the High Office of the Shiite marja'iyyat of His Eminence Grand Ayatullah Seestaani (may his presence continue) who has keen interest in the spread of various sciences amongst the Muslims, this Center began its teaching activities in September 1997 by the enrollment of some 40 capable students and scholars from the Hauza-e-'Ilmiyyah and currently enjoys the enrollment of more than 150 students.
The teachers at the Center, who are first grade scholars of the nation from the University and the Hauza, have also contributed significantly to the development of the Center.
Until now several instructional texts have been prepared including among others: "The Solar System", "Islamic Astronomy", "Mathematical Astronomy", "Astronomical Physics", "Geology", and "Research Methodology".
The Astronomical Research Center in order to attain its lofty aims has at its disposal a wide variety of educational and research facilities and instruments which will be presented in the following two sections.
A - EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
1. Administrative and Educational Block with all recreational facilities, well-equipped classrooms, and several halls for social gatherings, etc.
2. An Observatory is under construction with 70% of the work already completed and will soon be made available to the students and researchers.
3. Computer and relevant educational software materials.
4. Various educational aids e.g. slides, projector, opaques, Sky globe, Planetarium, and detailed sky maps.
5. Library with specialist Astronomy reference works. This library in addition to stocking a large number of published works is daily updated with new publications for the reference of research scholars.
6. Necessary Audio-visual aids and instructional video material.
B. RESEARCH FACILITIES
1. The services of an eminent academic body comprising of first grade scholars from the University and the Hauza.
2. Connection to various information providing networks e.g. Internet, etc.
3. Access to competent research scholars who are mainly eminent members of the Hauza-e-'Ilmiyya
4. Access to computers and scientific & research software and other research facilities like Observatory, Astronomical binoculars & well-equipped telescopes.
3. ACCOMPLISHED TASKS
Though the newly founded Center is still in its infancy but it has been successful during this short period of time to offer to the general public and specifically to the dear believers noteworthy services, some of which are hereby mentioned:
1. Enrollment and education of more than 150 capable students and scholars. These honorable students have completed various instructional units as mentioned hereunder:
a. Mathematical Astronomy
b. Islamic Astronomy
d. Practical Astronomy
f. Solar System
g. Astronomical Physics
h. History of Astronomy
i. Research Methodology
The students are also required to complete other units to help them in their further studies and research.
2. Preparation and distribution of various scientific pamphlets for instructional & study purposes to the students and interested readers 3. Preparation and distribution of the Calendar:
This calendar is a unique one of its kind, and includes valuable information on the timings of religious duties, details of the moon and sun during crescent sighting.
4. Calculation and distribution of the timings of religious duties of the holy month of Ramadhan for the horizon of the holy city of Qum which has received wide public acceptance.
5. Translation of scientific and specialist articles on Astronomy which have been published in foreign journals or have been obtained from various information providing networks, and making them available for interested readers.
6. Setting up a special web site for the Center on the worldwide web which can be accessed in the three living languages: Persian, Arabic and English.
4. THE MANNER OF ACTIVITIES AND PROVIDING OF SERVICES
The Center of Astronomical Studies & Research, in order to provide maximum and excellent services to the public and interested individuals, strives to attract and select and a number of capable students from amongst the students and scholars of the Hauza and educates & trains them.
STUDENT SELECTION CRITERIA
1. Commitment to the Islamic Laws and values and observance of the Hauza regulations
2. Excellence in Hauza studies or completion of secondary education in Math-Physics
3. Maximum age: 35 years
4. Sound health and sufficient physical ability
5. Acceptance in the written and oral examinations Applicants with proficiency in one of the foreign languages will be given preference.
Many interested individuals specifically the dear brethren in faith from all over the world in their correspondence to the Center have made inquiries about the Qibla, timings of religious duties, etc.
The Center, in response to these patrons, on receipt of the letters immediately classifies the queries and sends them to the Academic Body and after detailed discussions an appropriate response is sent to the inquirer's address.
The Center, after identifying the general needs of the public specifically the Muslim brethren, circulates news items through the mass media on appropriate occasions.
5. AIMS OF THE CENTER
The lofty aims which the Center strives to achieve are mentioned below as short-term and long-term goals.
A. SHORT-TERM GOALS
1. Teaching the topics which the students and scholars of the Hauza-e-'Ilmiyyah require: e.g. chronology, Identifying the Qibla, Crescent sighting, and ...... both theoretical and practical aspects. The students having completed the course will be able to instruct and guide the general laity in the important topics.
2. Calculation and distribution of timings of religious duties.
3. Preparation and distribution of instructional texts.
4. Response to queries from various people on relevant topics.
5. Organizing scientific conferences with invitations to scholars and experts.
6. Reports from the Observatory to the interested individuals.
B. LONG-TERM GOALS
1. Setting up an Astronomy College
2. Building an Observatory and a big Planetarium
3. Revival of the works by Muslim scholars on Astronomy
4. Publishing new titles on Astronomy
5. Publishing a regular periodical containing the most recent
findings on astronomy which will acquaint the interested readers with the newest events in the world of astronomy.
6. Training eminent scholars and experts
7. Publishing a Specialist Astronomical Calendar