• For well over a century, the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO) has been observing the Sun, capturing images of sunspots, and recording changes in its behaviour.
  • KoSO is owned and operated by Indian Institute of Astrophysics.
  • It is one of the world’s oldest observatories studying the Sun.
  • The idea was first proposed by the astronomer Norman Pogson, who was appointed Government Astronomer of the Madras Observatory in 1861.
  • The Madras Observatory was set up as the private effort of an official of the British East India Company in 1786, and came to be managed subsequently by the company.
  • The decision to establish a solar observatory was finally taken in 1893, and Kodaikanal in present-day Tamil Nadu was chosen for its high altitude and dust-free environment.
  • The Solar Physics Observatory opened on April 1, 1899, and was later named KoSO.
  • This 16-inch Newtonian (later Cassegrain) mobile telescope remained India’s largest from 1888 to 1968.
  • Imported from Dublin, Ireland, it was first established at the Maharaja Takhtasinghji Observatory in Poona (now Pune) around 1888.
  • But after the observatory in Pune was shut, it was sent to KoSO in 1912.
  • It is no longer in use today. 

Recent changes:

  • Between 1904 and 2017, all solar observations were traced on to photographic films and plates.
  • A new telescope mounted with charged-coupled device (CCD) camera has taken over and, since 2017, continued to observe the Sun.
  • The task of digitisation of the records was initiated in 1984.
  • In 2018, digitised solar observations for the period 1921-2011 were made available to the scientific community.
  • With the addition of raw and calibrated data for the period of 1904 to 2017, the digitisation process is nearly complete.
  • The Sun is the primary source of energy and the reason for the existence of most life on Earth.
  • Even minor changes on the solar surface or its periphery can significantly affect the Earth’s atmosphere and influence the space weather.
  • For instance, powerful solar storms, solar flares, are potentially harmful for satellite-based operations, power grids, and navigational networks.
  • Historical data on the Sun help solar physicists understand and predict its future.
The Sun

·        Our Sun is a 4.5 billion-year-old star.

·        It is a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system.

·        The Sun is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth.

·        The Sun is the largest object in our solar system.

·        It is 1.3 million times larger than the earth.

·        The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius).


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