Observatories in India To Marvel At Astronomy

Observatories in India

As the country takes a step towards development and leaves its mark in the field of science and technology, the knack of Indians in this field is not new and has been developing since a very long time. The earliest observatory in India started with measuring the time of the day to the exact second and declination of sun and research on other heavenly bodies. This trend continues till date and the list of observatories below showcases the keen interest on people in further study and have been a stepping stone in India’s quest for knowledge and advancement in technology.

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Here is the list of 8 Observatories in India To Marvel At Astronomy

1. Astronomical Observatory, Nainital

Perched on top of the Manora Peak in Beluwakhan, Nainital, Astronomical Observatory or Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Science (ARIES) helps you see the stars, celestial bodies, the moon and other heavenly bodies with the help of high powered, imported telescopes. The centre requires you to make prior appointment before visiting the place.

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2. Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, Kodaikanal

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Located at the southern tip of the beautiful Palani Hills, the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory was established in 1899 and is owned and operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Its longitudinal position makes it a unique site for the study of solar behaviour. The scientific abode also houses the most extensive collection of solar data, dating way back to the 19th century.

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3. Telescope Observatory, Yelagiri

Vainu Bappu Observatory, also known as the Telescope Observatory is located in Kavalur, very near to Yelagiri. Home to Asia's largest telescope, it was established in 1970s and can only be visited on prior permission. Besides the celestial bodies and the fascinating stars, you can also spot the affluent wildlife- flora and fauna, near the observatory.

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4. Astronomical Observatory, Nainital

Perched on top of the Manora Peak in Beluwakhan, Nainital, Astronomical Observatory or Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Science (ARIES) helps you see the stars, celestial bodies, the moon and other heavenly bodies with the help of high powered, imported telescopes. The centre requires you to make prior appointment before visiting the place.

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5. Udaipur Solar Observatory

This solar observatory in India is on an Island in Udaipur where a boat can be used to travel to, favourable to record solar observations because of the condition of the sky. The image quality of these recordings is up to the mark as the observatory is amidst a large mass of water and the ground heating by sun’s ray due to the air turbulence. The infrastructure of the observatory is according to the model of Solar Observatory at Big Bear Lake in Southern California and was built by Dr Arvind Bhatnagar in 1976. It is considered as the best solar observing site in Asia. The observatory has a vast range of telescopes to provide exceptional quality of astronomical observations. The observatory has a new instrument ‘Solar Vector Magnetograph’ that plays a vital role in the future research program by determining the magnetic field of the active regions. Every one of these facilities adds to the nature of extricated picture of the sun.

6. Gauribidanur Radio Observatory

Gauribidanur is a rural area 100 km from Bangalore and is free from urban electronic noise, making it suitable radio observations. It was built in the 1970s by Raman Research Institute and Indian Institute of Astrophysics. To study radio emission from the centre of our galaxy and other radio sources, most importantly the sun, Radio emission is present. The purpose of these observations is to study supernova remnants, ionised hydrogen regions in the outer space and pulsars. Most of the time at this observatory is dedicated to observing the sun, and the angle is changed continuously through electronic adjustment. Gauribidanur Radio Observatory is the only observatory in India that can record observations at low frequencies and has a unique role.

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7. Madras Observatory, Chennai

South Asians first texts on astronomical phenomena ate back to more than 3000 years, as the study of movement of stars and planets was familiar in the ancient world, hence the observatory was built and was one of the first modern observatories in Asia that was equipped with impressive telescopes, some of which are still rare in the Indian subcontinent. Madras is a vast astronomical observatory set up by William Petrie in 1786 and later was managed by the British East India Company that aims at assisting in the navigation and mapping by recording latitude and maintaining time standards. The recordings here are also used to study stars and geomagnetism and production of a comprehensive catalogue of stars. It is an amalgamation of scientific knowledge and imperial power. The site was a tool of colonial rule aiming at showing the dominance of British power in South Asia as astronomy was known as the key to ‘sovereignty of rick and extensive empire’. Madras observatory held the torch for establishing a global empire and was considered to be the rise of a new kind of science.

8. High Altitude Gamma Ray Observatory Ladakh

The intense study of Gamma rays provides an insight into the study of what is known as the non-thermal universe. Cosmic rays in the galaxy are considered to be an essential component of the non-thermal world. The research revolves around the concept that the remains of a supernova explosion accelerate cosmic rays with energies at the lower end of the ray spectrum on the other hand higher energy cosmic rays could be accelerated in active galactic nuclei. Production of Gamma rays can also happen when charged particles are accelerated to high energies through different processes. The location and atmosphere of Ladakh are perfect for observing and understanding more about these experiments. Gamma rays are extremely harmful to life hence being located at a higher altitude the observatory is not a threat to surroundings. Being situated in Ladakh, it is considered to be one of the world’s highest sites for optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes. The Indian Astronomical Observatory is operated by Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore and is currently the ninth optical telescope in the world according to the list of highest astronomical observatories. For excellent visibility and most accurate reading of infrared and submillimeter observations throughout the year, Hanle site is a perfect place. The concentration of atmospheric aerosols is low along with atmospheric water vapour concentration, and the location has low ambient temperatures, low humidity and least amount of pollution in the surroundings making it suitable to satisfy all the requirements for most accurate readings. This observatory in India currently has two powerful telescopes, and each one has seven mirrors and occupies an area of 4.4 square meters in total. The observatory is still undergoing development for better results, and the researchers are waiting for the worlds second largest telescope to be installed at this site.

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Observatories in India are beautiful places to look out into the great unknown and wait patiently to hear something back. Which of these observatories have you visited? Let us know in the comments below!

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