Industrial Visit provided ECE S6 A Batch students with insights into solar research, and solar observatory

The Industrial Visit to the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Solar Observatory in Kodaikanal was organized on 14 March 2024 with the aim of providing students with an overview in solar research, observational techniques, and the functioning of a solar observatory. Dr Jeeva K A (Prof, ECE Dept) and Ms Aswathy A K (Asst Prof, AS Dept) led the visit.

The Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, established in 1899, is one of the oldest solar observatories in India. It is located atop the Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu, offering an ideal location for solar observations due to its clear skies and minimal atmospheric disturbances. The observatory is equipped with various instruments for studying the sun, including spectrographs, telescopes, and magnetography. They recently celebrated their 125th year after coming into existence.

Upon arrival, students were greeted with a guided tour of the observatory, where they were introduced to an array of sophisticated observational instruments meticulously designed for studying the sun. Among these instruments were spectrographs, telescopes, and magnetography devices, each serving a unique purpose in unraveling the mysteries of our solar system. The live observational demonstrations provided students with firsthand experience in utilizing these instruments, enabling them to witness the intricate layers of the sun, including the 4th and 5th layers – photosphere and chromosphere given that the sun has 6 layers. Through these demonstrations, students gained insights into the process of solar observation, encompassing data collection techniques and analytical methodologies.

The visit offered students insights on various solar phenomena, ranging from sunspots to solar flares and prominences. The real time demonstration of sunspot, comparatively the colder regions on the sun’s surface was also provided. By observing the outermost layers of the sun, students were able to understand the dynamic interplay of magnetic fields and plasma, which governs the behavior of our nearest star. These observations not only deepened their understanding of solar physics but also underscored the importance of continuous monitoring to comprehend the ever-changing solar dynamics.

The visit also included a tour of the astronomy museum, where students encountered a wealth of exhibits and artifacts related to astronomy and space exploration. From ancient astronomical instruments to models of cosmic bodies, the museum provided a captivating journey through the history of human curiosity about the cosmos. Students were also briefed on KSO’s significant contributions to the Aditya L1 mission spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). As part of this mission, KSO plays a pivotal role in providing crucial data and insights into solar activity and helped in the making of one of seven payloads of the mission – Visible Emission Line Chronograph (VELC) , thereby aiding in the mission’s objectives of studying the sun’s corona and its impact on space weather. Additionally, KSO’s collaboration with NASA was highlighted, emphasizing its role in monitoring solar activity, calibrating instruments, and facilitating collaborative research endeavors. This partnership underscores the global significance of KSO’s research initiatives and its commitment to advancing our understanding of the sun and its influence on the solar system.

The industrial visit to the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory proved to be a transformative learning experience for students, offering a comprehensive insight into the realms of solar physics and astronomy. From exploring cutting-edge observational instruments to witnessing live demonstrations of solar phenomena, students were immersed in a world of scientific inquiry and discovery. Moreover, the visit underscored the pivotal role of KSO in advancing solar research, both on a national and international scale, thereby reaffirming its status as a cornerstone of solar exploration in India.
As students departed from KSO, they carried with them not only memories of an enriching educational excursion but also a newfound appreciation for the wonders of our solar system and the tireless efforts of scientists dedicated to unraveling its mysteries.

Hearty appreciations to all involved !!!