Rajesh Kochhar
President IAU Commission 41: History of Astronomy
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research
Mohali...
As is well known, Unesco has a mission to
safeguard and preserve world heritage
sites. Towards this end, it prepares a
Wor...
Unesco has now undertaken a Thematic
Initiative on ‘Astronomy and World
Heritage’. It has enlisted technical
assistance fr...
Commission 41: History of Astronomy.
Phase I of this Initiative aims at ‘acquiring
an in-depth knowledge of the outstandin...
most representative of these properties on
the national tentative lists. Phase II aims at
promoting the most outstanding o...
In simpler words, an astronomical property
must first enter its nation’s tentative list
and then campaign for inscription ...
You are all familiar with the rust-free iron
pillar in Delhi near Qutub Minar. It is
famous the world over for its metallu...
It was originally installed in about 400CE
in Udaigiri, Central India, on Tropic of
Cancer, as a gnomon. If this pillar ha...
.
As things stand, I think the only candidate
for astronomical world heritage list from
India is the Solar Physics Observato...
maintenance/ upgradation.
Since you are all practitioners of science
( and not merely historians), I will try to
place Kod...
By the middle of the 19th
century, physical
astronomy, as distinct from positional
astronomy, had already taken some shape...
There were a number of solar eclipses in
quick succession and visible from India :
1868, 1871 and 1872. These eclipses
att...
In 1868, the French astrophysicist Pierre
Jules Cesar Janssen discovered helium
from Guntur . During his post-eclipse stay...
Then came the 1874 Transit of Venus. The
scientists’ agenda for it ran deep. What
was advertised was the brief passage of
...
The British Association for the
Advancement of Science passed a
resolution asking the Government of India
to make arrangem...
Such was the prestige enjoyed by science
and scientists in Europe at the time that the
British Empire, as the owner of the...
The 1874 transit eventually led to regular
solar physics studies in India, even though
the exercise took 25 years. The ini...

Observation of the 1874 event.

Creation of interim facilities for
collection of data and its transmission to
Europe.
...
The 1874 event
It is noteworthy that Survey of India
( and not Madras Observatory) was
asked to make transit observations....
Photos from all over were reduced by
Captain G. L. Tupman who wrote:
‘There is only one really sharp image
in the whole co...
Dehra Dun Observatory (1878-1925)
Lockyer used his equation with Lord
Salisbury, the Secretary of State for
India, for mak...
Salisbury wrote to the Viceroy on 28
September 1877: ‘Having considered
the suggestions made by Mr. Lockyer,
and viewing t...
desirable to assent to the employment
for a limited period of a person
qualified to obtain photographs of the
sun’s disc b...
From the technical details given in the
letter , it is clear that it was drafted by
Lockyer himself.
Accordingly, starting...
and sent to England every week. Dehra
Dun continued solar photography till
1925, but more out of a sense of duty
than enth...
The larger of the two photoheliographs
fell into disuse, and in 1898, Lockyer
was stung by on-the-spot discovery
that ‘the...
St Xavier’s College Observatory, Calcutta
(1879)
Sunny India caught the attention of
astronomers in the continent also. Th...
its Chief instrument being the
spectroscope, `an instrument not
recognized in the equipment of any of
the English parties’...
St. Xavier’s College. Lafont was no
researcher himself was an inspiring
educator and science communicator.
Tacchini suggested to Lafont ‘the
advisability of erecting a Solar
Observatory in Calcutta, in order to
supplement the Obs...
Lafont used his influence with
Europeans, Anglo-Indians (half-castes),
rajas, zamindars, and Indian men of note,
and soon ...
A 9 in refractor by Steinhill of Munich
was purchased and housed in a spacious
dome constructed for the purpose.
No resear...
might have become part of Indian
education system. As it is, astronomy has
largely remained decoupled from
college/ univer...
Takhtasinghji's Observatory Poona
(1888-1912)
It was a Government Observatory, named
after the principal funder, Maharaja ...
and did not last long. The original plan
was to establish a spectroscopic
laboratory at Elphinstone College
Bombay for use...
lecturer in the College, Kavasji Dadabhai
Naegamvala (1857-1938), who obtained
seed money of Rs 5000 from the
Maharaja of ...
While in England in 1884 for buying the
equipment, he was persuaded by the
Astronomer Royal and Lockyer to build
a spectro...
Since Poona was a better astronomical
site than Bombay, in 1885 Naegamvala
was transferred there to College of
Science whe...
In addition, Lockyer equipped Poona as a
satellite facility. A six-inch Cooke
equatorial purchased by the Government
for t...
The India Office also purchased two
spectroscopes from Hilger (one solar, the
other stellar) for his use. The equatorial
a...
Similarly, data was received by Lockyer
and more generally in England from
Kodaikanal and Mauritius.
Not surprisingly, relationship between
Poona and South Kensington was non-
symmetrical. Whenever South
Kensington found fa...
his British superiors. Yet, when
Kodaikanal Observatory was being
planned, Lockyer suggested
Naegamvala’s name for the dir...
Lockyer and Astronomer Royal
constituted two independent centres of
power in England, and Kodaikanal came
under the latter...
The Observatory was officially abolished
on the day of his retirement and all
equipment was sent to Kodaikanal.
Thus inste...
Kodaikanal Observatory (1899)
If the 1874 transit of Venus was
important for solar physicists, so was the
severe famine of...
particularly high in the colonial period
because of large-scale export of food
grains from India to Britain in utter
disre...
In 1879, Lockyer presented a report to
the Indian Famine Commission claiming
that famines were correlated with
sunspot min...
But it is also a fact that the practical
benefits to be derived from a study of the
sun were exaggerated to gain
Governmen...
In 1881, Government of India’s chief
meteorologist Henry Francis Blanford
reported to the Famine Commission that
no such s...
In any case, the Government decided to
go ahead with the Solar Observatory. It
was however decided to wait till the
neurot...
Kodaikanal started shakily. The first task
was the acquisition of instruments.
A photoheliograph (Dallmeyer No. 4)
origina...
Madras had acquired a 6 in telescope on
English mounting, by Lerebours and
Secretan of Paris, in 1850. It was
remodelled i...
The telescope has been in use for solar
photography since 1912, from the North
Dome.
Kodaikanal has the unique distinction...
These and other pictures have now been
digitized.
George Evershed arrived in 1907 no
doubt to be able to work in solitary
...
His first task was the installation of Ca-K
spectroheliograph that had been received
in 1904. His 1909 discovery of the ra...
In 1911, Evershed made an auxiliary
specroheliograph and bolted it to the
existing instrument. The Sun could now
be photog...
The Spectro building has a priceless
clock from the 18th
century. It is among
the dozen odd gridiron pendulum clocks
made ...
The clock was one of the original
instruments at Madras Observatory (est
1787). It was transferred to Kodaikanal
in 1899. ...
These old twin spectroheliographs are no
longer in use. The H-alpha pictures were
discontinued in about 2005, and the Ca-
...
Finally, in 2008 a newly constructed
twin telescope was commissioned to take
pictures in Ca-K and white light. In other
wo...
In 1933, a Hale spectrohelioscope was
received as a gift from Mount Wilson
Observatory.
Next, International Geophysical Ye...
were never really utilized. The third
instrument, acquired on turn-key basis,
was the Solar Tunnel Telescope which
was com...
Over the years many minor instruments
were obtained; and new temporary
activities initiated ( radio,
magnetic/ionospheric)...
Kodaikanal was never a well-endowed
Observatory. There was therefore lot of
improvisation; cutting up of old
instruments t...
was mentioned in the Stores Stock
Register. Many of these details have
been published ( eg in Vistas in
Astronomy). Here I...
• IIA has a priceless instrumentation
heritage. It deserves to be documented
case by case and preserved.
• Kodaikanal Obse...
• Many buildings in the Kodaikanal
campus are lying unused .Utilizing them
for a combination of heritage, education
and sc...
Concluding remarksConcluding remarks
Kodaikanal Observatory is a respected
name in the world solar physics. Many
better-k...
It is the continuity in Kodaikanal that
makes its history so interesting.
Whether it should be inscribed in the
Astronomy...
IIA should prepare a detailed dossier
on the Observatory.
Persuade MHRD ( Indian node for
UNESCO) to include it in the n...
Thank You
Thank You
Thank You
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site

550 views

Published on

As things stand, I think the only candidate for astronomical world heritage list from India is the Solar Physics Observatory Kodaikanal ( est 1899 ), which now has solar picture data with the same instrument for the longest period in the world (since 1912), with some short interruptions due to maintenance/ upgradation.

Published in: Education, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
550
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
5
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
7
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • The original Kodaikanal Observatory building with the north ( left) and south domes.
  • Lerebours and Secretan 1849. The painting was made by Charles Piazzi Smith of Royal Observatory Edinburgh
  • A photoheliograph, called Dallmeyer No. 4, sent out from Greenwich for use at Kodaikanal.
  • The Spectroheliograph building where George Evershed discovered Evershed Effect
  • Commemmorative plaque at the ‘Spectro’ building
  • Building under construction for housing the Bhavnagar telescope
  • Kodaikanal Observatory as a world astronomy heritage site

    1. 1. Rajesh Kochhar President IAU Commission 41: History of Astronomy Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali rkochhar2000@yahoo.com Colloquium given at Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bangalore, 25 September 2012 Kodaikanal Observatory as a potential world astronomy heritage site
    2. 2. As is well known, Unesco has a mission to safeguard and preserve world heritage sites. Towards this end, it prepares a World Heritage List, in which cultural properties from all over are inscribed ( that is included) . Additionally, Unesco encourages international cooperation in heritage conservation.
    3. 3. Unesco has now undertaken a Thematic Initiative on ‘Astronomy and World Heritage’. It has enlisted technical assistance from International Astronomical Union for this purpose. Within IAU, the responsibility has been entrusted to>
    4. 4. Commission 41: History of Astronomy. Phase I of this Initiative aims at ‘acquiring an in-depth knowledge of the outstanding properties connected with astronomy in all geographical regions through their identification, study and inclusion of the >
    5. 5. most representative of these properties on the national tentative lists. Phase II aims at promoting the most outstanding of these properties which recognize and celebrate achievements in science through their inscription on the World Heritage List.
    6. 6. In simpler words, an astronomical property must first enter its nation’s tentative list and then campaign for inscription in the World List. Note that Unesco does not deal with individuals, only with member countries.
    7. 7. You are all familiar with the rust-free iron pillar in Delhi near Qutub Minar. It is famous the world over for its metallurgy. What is not so well known is its astronomical significance. It was brought to Delhi in relatively recent times, that is 1233 CE. >
    8. 8. It was originally installed in about 400CE in Udaigiri, Central India, on Tropic of Cancer, as a gnomon. If this pillar had remained at its original location, it would have been an obvious choice as a world astronomical heritage property.
    9. 9. .
    10. 10. As things stand, I think the only candidate for astronomical world heritage list from India is the Solar Physics Observatory Kodaikanal ( est 1899 ), which now has solar picture data with the same instrument for the longest period in the world (since 1912), with some short interruptions due to
    11. 11. maintenance/ upgradation. Since you are all practitioners of science ( and not merely historians), I will try to place Kodaikanal in the larger context of development of solar physics as a scientific discipline.
    12. 12. By the middle of the 19th century, physical astronomy, as distinct from positional astronomy, had already taken some shape, thanks to advent of solar spectroscopy and photography.
    13. 13. There were a number of solar eclipses in quick succession and visible from India : 1868, 1871 and 1872. These eclipses attracted observers from Europe, and gave a fillip to solar instrumentation and studies the world over.
    14. 14. In 1868, the French astrophysicist Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen discovered helium from Guntur . During his post-eclipse stay at Simla, Janssen created the first spectro- helioscope, which facilitated daily examination of the sun.
    15. 15. Then came the 1874 Transit of Venus. The scientists’ agenda for it ran deep. What was advertised was the brief passage of Venus in front of the solar disc; what was planned was a long-term study of the disc itself.
    16. 16. The British Association for the Advancement of Science passed a resolution asking the Government of India to make arrangements for observing the event and to provide instruments which were afterwards to be transferred to a solar observatory.
    17. 17. Such was the prestige enjoyed by science and scientists in Europe at the time that the British Empire, as the owner of the most of the world’s sunshine, agreed to help, though partially.
    18. 18. The 1874 transit eventually led to regular solar physics studies in India, even though the exercise took 25 years. The initiative came from the influential British scientist of the time , Sir Norman Lockyer. To sum up in advance, the step-wise developments were as follows.
    19. 19.  Observation of the 1874 event.  Creation of interim facilities for collection of data and its transmission to Europe.  Permanent facility in India.
    20. 20. The 1874 event It is noteworthy that Survey of India ( and not Madras Observatory) was asked to make transit observations. More than 100 photos of the sun were taken at Roorkee and sent to the Astronomer Royal Sir George Biddell Airy.
    21. 21. Photos from all over were reduced by Captain G. L. Tupman who wrote: ‘There is only one really sharp image in the whole collection, including the Indian and Australian contingents, and that is one of Captain Waterhouse’s wet plates taken at Roorkee’.
    22. 22. Dehra Dun Observatory (1878-1925) Lockyer used his equation with Lord Salisbury, the Secretary of State for India, for making arrangement for solar photography in India.
    23. 23. Salisbury wrote to the Viceroy on 28 September 1877: ‘Having considered the suggestions made by Mr. Lockyer, and viewing that a study of the conditions of the sun’s disc in relation to terrestrial phenomenon has become an important part of physical investigation, I have thought it
    24. 24. desirable to assent to the employment for a limited period of a person qualified to obtain photographs of the sun’s disc by the aid of the instrument now in India’.
    25. 25. From the technical details given in the letter , it is clear that it was drafted by Lockyer himself. Accordingly, starting from early 1878, solar photographs were regularly taken at Dehra Dun under the auspices of Survey of India,
    26. 26. and sent to England every week. Dehra Dun continued solar photography till 1925, but more out of a sense of duty than enthusiasm.
    27. 27. The larger of the two photoheliographs fell into disuse, and in 1898, Lockyer was stung by on-the-spot discovery that ‘the dome has been taken possession of by bees’. The arrangement was discontinued in 1925, and equipment sent to Kodaikanal.
    28. 28. St Xavier’s College Observatory, Calcutta (1879) Sunny India caught the attention of astronomers in the continent also. The Italian transit-of-Venus team led by Professor P. Tacchini of Palermo Observatory stationed itself in Bengal,
    29. 29. its Chief instrument being the spectroscope, `an instrument not recognized in the equipment of any of the English parties’. A co-opted member of the Italian team was the Belgian Jesuit Father Eugene Lafont (1837-1908), the popular professor of science at the elitist
    30. 30. St. Xavier’s College. Lafont was no researcher himself was an inspiring educator and science communicator.
    31. 31. Tacchini suggested to Lafont ‘the advisability of erecting a Solar Observatory in Calcutta, in order to supplement the Observations made in Europe, by filling up the gaps caused in the series of solar records by bad weather’.
    32. 32. Lafont used his influence with Europeans, Anglo-Indians (half-castes), rajas, zamindars, and Indian men of note, and soon collected a substantial sum of Rs 21000 through donations, including Rs 7000 from the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.
    33. 33. A 9 in refractor by Steinhill of Munich was purchased and housed in a spacious dome constructed for the purpose. No research or teaching use was ever made of this facility. This is unfortunate. If the experiment had succeeded, observational astronomy
    34. 34. might have become part of Indian education system. As it is, astronomy has largely remained decoupled from college/ university teaching.
    35. 35. Takhtasinghji's Observatory Poona (1888-1912) It was a Government Observatory, named after the principal funder, Maharaja of a princely state, Bhavnagar. It was India’s first modern astrophysical observatory. Unfortunately, it was created for an individual
    36. 36. and did not last long. The original plan was to establish a spectroscopic laboratory at Elphinstone College Bombay for use by the students. The initiator of the proposal was a
    37. 37. lecturer in the College, Kavasji Dadabhai Naegamvala (1857-1938), who obtained seed money of Rs 5000 from the Maharaja of Bhavnagar and a matching grant from the Bombay Government.
    38. 38. While in England in 1884 for buying the equipment, he was persuaded by the Astronomer Royal and Lockyer to build a spectroscopic observatory instead.
    39. 39. Since Poona was a better astronomical site than Bombay, in 1885 Naegamvala was transferred there to College of Science where the Observatory came up in 1888. Its chief instrument was a 16½ inch aperture silver-on-parabolic glass Newtonian made by Grubb.
    40. 40. In addition, Lockyer equipped Poona as a satellite facility. A six-inch Cooke equatorial purchased by the Government for the 1874 transit observation from India had been loaned to Lockyer’s Observatory in South Kensington.
    41. 41. The India Office also purchased two spectroscopes from Hilger (one solar, the other stellar) for his use. The equatorial and the spectroscopes were given to Naegamvala so that he could observe with them and send raw data to Lockyer.
    42. 42. Similarly, data was received by Lockyer and more generally in England from Kodaikanal and Mauritius.
    43. 43. Not surprisingly, relationship between Poona and South Kensington was non- symmetrical. Whenever South Kensington found fault with data collection at Poona, it did not write directly to Naegamvala, but formally complained to >
    44. 44. his British superiors. Yet, when Kodaikanal Observatory was being planned, Lockyer suggested Naegamvala’s name for the directorship. The position was however offered to an Englishman, Charles Michie Smith, a non-descript physics professor at Madras.
    45. 45. Lockyer and Astronomer Royal constituted two independent centres of power in England, and Kodaikanal came under the latter’s sphere of influence. Naegamvala took observations till the very last date of his employment, 11 January 1912.
    46. 46. The Observatory was officially abolished on the day of his retirement and all equipment was sent to Kodaikanal. Thus instead of creating a permanent educational facility, a temporary research centre was created for the primary benefit of European solar physicists.
    47. 47. Kodaikanal Observatory (1899) If the 1874 transit of Venus was important for solar physicists, so was the severe famine of 1876-77 in the Madras Presidency. Monsoons fail at times, but the severity of famines was
    48. 48. particularly high in the colonial period because of large-scale export of food grains from India to Britain in utter disregard of local requirements. Astronomers of course would not worry about avoiding famines, but in predicting monsoon behaviour.
    49. 49. In 1879, Lockyer presented a report to the Indian Famine Commission claiming that famines were correlated with sunspot minima. There is no doubt that Lockyer and many others genuinely believed in a correlation with solar activity and terrestrial weather.
    50. 50. But it is also a fact that the practical benefits to be derived from a study of the sun were exaggerated to gain Government support.
    51. 51. In 1881, Government of India’s chief meteorologist Henry Francis Blanford reported to the Famine Commission that no such simple sunspot-monsoon correlation as suggested by Lockyer existed.
    52. 52. In any case, the Government decided to go ahead with the Solar Observatory. It was however decided to wait till the neurotic Madras Astronomer Pogson was dead. This happened in 1890.
    53. 53. Kodaikanal started shakily. The first task was the acquisition of instruments. A photoheliograph (Dallmeyer No. 4) originally made for the 1874 transit was given on loan by Greenwich to Kodaikanal. It was used till 1912.
    54. 54. Madras had acquired a 6 in telescope on English mounting, by Lerebours and Secretan of Paris, in 1850. It was remodelled in 1898 by Grubb of Dublin who provided it with an electric drive, and mounted a 5 in aperture a 5 in aperture Grubb photographic lens on the frame.
    55. 55. The telescope has been in use for solar photography since 1912, from the North Dome. Kodaikanal has the unique distinction of possessing an unbroken series of solar pictures from the same instrument for an extended period of 100 years.
    56. 56. These and other pictures have now been digitized. George Evershed arrived in 1907 no doubt to be able to work in solitary splendour. Kodaikanal rose to great heights under him.
    57. 57. His first task was the installation of Ca-K spectroheliograph that had been received in 1904. His 1909 discovery of the radial flow in sun spots_ the Evershed Effect_ is the only major discovery ever made from Kodaikanal.
    58. 58. In 1911, Evershed made an auxiliary specroheliograph and bolted it to the existing instrument. The Sun could now be photographed not only in Ca-K light but also in H-alpha. This is the only time a state-of-art pure astronomical instrument was ever made in India.
    59. 59. The Spectro building has a priceless clock from the 18th century. It is among the dozen odd gridiron pendulum clocks made by John Shelton for the 1761 or 1769 ( probably the latter) transit of Venus. It is not known when and how one of the Sheltons ended in India.
    60. 60. The clock was one of the original instruments at Madras Observatory (est 1787). It was transferred to Kodaikanal in 1899. It is still working, and is in use as an ordinary clock.
    61. 61. These old twin spectroheliographs are no longer in use. The H-alpha pictures were discontinued in about 2005, and the Ca- K in about 2007. In the mean time, in 1995, as a back-up, Ca-K line filtergrams using a CCD camera were begun.
    62. 62. Finally, in 2008 a newly constructed twin telescope was commissioned to take pictures in Ca-K and white light. In other words, Kodaikanal does not take H-alpha pictures any more. It takes Ca-K pictures all right, but with a new equipment, as in the Spectro building and white-light pictures at two places ( North Dome and
    63. 63. In 1933, a Hale spectrohelioscope was received as a gift from Mount Wilson Observatory. Next, International Geophysical Year 1957-1958 provided an opportunity for ordering three new instruments. Two of these, Lyot heliograph, and Lyot coronograph,
    64. 64. were never really utilized. The third instrument, acquired on turn-key basis, was the Solar Tunnel Telescope which was commissioned by M. K. Vainu Bappu, who joined as Director in 1961. This was the last time Kodaikanal got a new instrument.
    65. 65. Over the years many minor instruments were obtained; and new temporary activities initiated ( radio, magnetic/ionospheric). At present, the Tunnel Telescope, ‘Spectro’, and the North Dome are the only regular activity centres of Kodaikanal Observatory.
    66. 66. Kodaikanal was never a well-endowed Observatory. There was therefore lot of improvisation; cutting up of old instruments to make new ones for solar eclipse expeditions, e. g. About 25 years ago, I traced the history of almost every instrument, or parts thereof, that was in actual existence or >
    67. 67. was mentioned in the Stores Stock Register. Many of these details have been published ( eg in Vistas in Astronomy). Here I have drawn attention to only some of them.
    68. 68. • IIA has a priceless instrumentation heritage. It deserves to be documented case by case and preserved. • Kodaikanal Observatory has always been an important feature on the town’s tourist map. The Observatory however needs to revamp its Outreach Programme, combine it with education,
    69. 69. • Many buildings in the Kodaikanal campus are lying unused .Utilizing them for a combination of heritage, education and science popularization will help preserve the buildings also. The Kodaikanal Observatory needs to be protected not only as culrural property but as real estate also.
    70. 70. Concluding remarksConcluding remarks Kodaikanal Observatory is a respected name in the world solar physics. Many better-known observatories have discontinued their old programmes, or even shifted to new locations, and become more high tech.
    71. 71. It is the continuity in Kodaikanal that makes its history so interesting. Whether it should be inscribed in the Astronomy and World Heritage List or not is for IIA to decide. The procedure is simple.
    72. 72. IIA should prepare a detailed dossier on the Observatory. Persuade MHRD ( Indian node for UNESCO) to include it in the national list. Get it inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
    73. 73. Thank You
    74. 74. Thank You
    75. 75. Thank You

    ×