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Positional Astronomy Centre, Kolkata
 
 
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History

The Planning Committee set up by the Government of India recommended in 1945 the preparation of an Astronomical Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac for the development of astronomical and astrophysical studies in India. Moreover, although the Govt. of India used Gregorian calendar for official use, divergent practices prevailed for observing festivals at various states of the country. As nearly 30 different Panchangas were in use during post independence period of the country, a need was felt by the then Prime Minister Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru to develop a unified National Calendar on the basis of the most accurate modern astronomical data for the interest of national integrity. Keeping these in view a Calendar Reform Committee was formed in 1952 under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of the Government of India with Late Prof. Meghnad Saha, F.R.S, as Chairman and eminent persons as members with Late N.C.Lahiri as member secretary. The committee recommended preparation of the Indian Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac incorporating therein along with the usual astronomical data calculated with most modern astronomical formulae, the National Calendar of India (using Saka Era) with timings of tithis, nakshatras, yoga etc, and also festival dates. The committee also recommended the preparation of the Rashtriya Panchang with solar calendar system for civil purposes and luni-solar calendar system for religious purposes. It was decided that the work should be done by a special unit attached to a scientific department of the Government of India. Thus the residual work of the Calendar Reform Committee and also the preparation of the Indian Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac along with Rashtriya Panchang were taken up by the India Meteorological Department from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research on 1st December, 1955. The unit, which was functioning as the office of the Calendar Reform Committee at the then Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta, was brought under control of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Calcutta as one of its sections named 'Nautical Almanac Unit'.


After completion of the Calendar Reform Committee's work, Late N.C.Lahiri was entrusted with the work of the Nautical Almanac Unit of the India Meteorological Department as its first Officer-in-Charge. The unit undertook the preparation of 'The Indian Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac' for 1958, which was the first issue published in March 1957. Simultaneously the first issue of Rashtriya Panchang was started from 1879 Saka Era (1957- 58 A.D.). The Nautical Almanac Unit was initially located in the office premises of the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore,Calcutta.


The Nautical Almanac Unit was so long under the administrative control of the then Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Calcutta. In the year 1976 a high power Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. R. Ramanna to review the organisational structure and functions of the India Meteorological Department. The Ramanna Committee, after examination of the working of the Nautical Almanac Unit, recommended its independent status and upgradation of the post of Officer-in Charge of the Unit to the level of Director. These recommendations were finally approved by the Council of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences ( CMAS ) of the Govt. of India and it was decided that the Nautical Almanac Unit would be completely separated from the administrative control of the Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Calcutta and was made an independent centre with the name as "Positional Astronomy Centre" ( P.A.C.) directly under the control of the Director General of Meteorology, New Delhi. The CMAS also recommended an Advisory Committee consisting of a few experts in this particular field of astronomy to give guidance for the development work of the Centre. The implementation of this decision has been made with effect from the 1st December 1979 and the formal inauguration of the Positional Astronomy Centre took place on the 26th April 1980.



  Name of Directors From To
1 Shri A. Bandopadhyaya 1979 1988
2 Shri A. K. Bhatnagar 1988                    1996
3 Shri K. K. Chakrabarty 1996 2002
4 Shri B. K. Mandal 2002 2005
5 Shri S. Sen 2005                    2006
6 Shri K. K. Chakrabarty 2006 2007
7 Shri S. Sen 2007