Observatories in India are not a new post-modern concept but have a history attached to them. One of the world’s oldest observatories was in Kerala, India. Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, Rajasthan, commissioned 5 brilliant observatories between 1724 to 1735. These five age-old observatories at New Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi are some of the most popular tourist spots in India.
Today is World UFO Day. Every 2nd of July is observed as UFO Day to encourage stargazing among people to scan for unidentified flying objects. Studying celestial substances or energies is a wide field of astronomical science. Observatories are instruments of aiding that science. Let’s quickly check out some of the major observatories in India.
ARIES, Nainital, Uttarakhand
Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) is situated at Manora Peak near Nainital. ARIES houses Asia’s largest telescope, Devasthal Optical Telescope. The observatory is open to the public on weekdays during afternoons. For night viewing prior permission is required. Besides astronomical facilities, the abundance of nature’s beauty around Nainital is captivating.
Vainu Bappu Observatory, Kavalur, Tamil Nadu
Vainu Bappu Observatory is located on Javadi Hills at Kavalur, near Vaniyambadi in the Tirupattur district. It is one of the most renowned observatories in India; especially because of its discovery of a new minor planet in 1988. The planet was named 4130 Ramanujan after the Indian mathematical genius. It houses Asia’s second-largest telescope. This is the first such discovery from India. For visiting the observatory prior approval is required. The forested area of the hill, outside the observatory, is remarkable.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, Ladakh
Amidst the vast rustic barren fields of Hanle in Ladakh, stands the highest of all observatories in India. It is located at an altitude of 14.8K feet. The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) at Hanle is one of the world’s highest observatories. The remote landscape is ethereal and is star gazers’ paradise. The arid atmosphere and clear skies make it one of the world’s best sites for infrared and gamma-ray optical wavelengths.
Udaipur Solar Observatory, Udaipur, Rajasthan
In terms of location, the Udaipur Solar Observatory (USO) is mesmerizing. It is situated on the island of Fateh Sagar Lake. It is one of the best solar observing sites among the observatories in India, rather Asia. The surrounding water makes that possible by reducing air turbulence. The wide range of telescopes and the solar vector magnetograph is worth mentioning.
Kodaikanal, Solar Observatory, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
The Solar Observatory is located on the beautiful Palani Hills near Kodaikanal town. It is the oldest of all observatories in India to provide solar data. The unique longitudinal position of Kodaikanal enables precise observations of the equatorial electrojet. This observatory plays a major role in educating the public about astronomy with their guided tour facilities. They provide access to an astronomical library and night-time telescopic sky viewing. Their specialized University courses, public seminars and workshops are remarkable.
Gauribidanur Radio Observatory, Bangalore, Karnataka
The Gauribidanur Radio Observatory is located at Gauribidanur, near Bangalore. It houses Radio Heliograph Telescope. Studies of gaseous remnants of exploding stars are a significant one. Besides, the apparently vacant space between members of a cluster of galaxies is another of its analysis. The study of Supernova sounds exciting, right? Gauribidanur Radio Observatory is the only one among all the observatories in India which can record observations at low frequencies.
Madras Observatory, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Set up in 1786, Madras Observatory is the oldest observatory in Asia and so deserves a special mention here. The scientific workings have stopped in 1931. Yet it is a significant name when it comes to observatories in India. The building is almost in ruins. But the granite pillars of the building stand with a more recent inscription, “Madras Meridian” marked on it. It is this observatory that demanded the rise of this new science; thus resulting in the construction of the modern observatories as a global phenomenon.
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A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.