KODAIKANAL SOLAR OBSERVATORY (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     2nd April 2024        

Context: Recently, the 125th anniversary of the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory commemorated how the establishment of this institution was influenced by the Great Drought of 1876.

Kodaikanal Solar Observatory

  • Location: The KSO is nestled amidst the scenic Palani range of hills in Southern India.
  • Establishment and Purpose: Established in 1899, the KSO initially served as a Solar Physics Observatory, dedicated to studying the Sun's phenomena.
  • Consolidation of Activities: All functions of the Madras Observatory were relocated to Kodaikanal, consolidating its scientific endeavors and expanding its research scope.
  • Discovery of the Evershed Effect: In January 1909, the Evershed effect, a crucial phenomenon in solar physics, was first detected at this observatory, marking a significant contribution to the field.
  • Oldest Continuous: Solar data collected by the observatory constitutes the oldest continuous series of its kind in India, offering valuable insights into the long-term behavior of the Sun.
  • Foundational Years: The Madras Observatory, initiated in 1786 through the private efforts of a British East India Company official, laid the groundwork for the establishment of the solar observatory.
  • Selection of Kodaikanal: In 1893, a decision was made to establish a solar observatory, with Kodaikanal in present-day Tamil Nadu being chosen for its high altitude and pristine environment.
  • Notable Instruments: The Bhavnagar Telescope, named after the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, emerged as one of the prominent instruments at KoSO during its initial years, facilitating significant observations.
  • Pioneering Techniques: Utilizing a 15cm telescope, solar images were captured onto photographic film or plates, enabling the recording of solar magnetic plages and prominences since 1911.