ASAKUCHI, Okayama Prefecture--Astronomy buffs and anyone who ever wanted to peer into the far reaches of the galaxy can live out their dreams at the controls of a massive professional research telescope here, one of the largest in Japan.

Officials will lease out the Cassegrain reflector telescope at the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), starting in April.

The telescope, with a behemoth of a mirror 188 centimeters in diameter, is used by research institutions, so the rental service will only be available for education and tourism organizations on days it is not in use for study purposes.

The Okayama Astrophysical Observatory is located on the top of a mountain near the border with neighboring Yakage.

The telescope, completed in 1960, was once the largest in Asia. It has since contributed to the development and advancement of the field of astrophysics in Japan.

While the telescope is currently used by researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and other organizations, the Asakuchi city government signed an agreement with the institute and the NAOJ last summer in preparation for the leasing program.

The equipment will be rented out for 200,000 yen ($1,796) per day on around five days a year when it is not used for research. The telescope will be available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., in principle.

Instructions and guidance will be provided by the staff of the city-run Okayama Astronomical Museum, which sits beside the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory.

The telescope is expected to be utilized for not only deep-space observing but also for wedding parties, concerts and other events. For more details, contact the city’s industrial promotion section at 0865-44-9035.