ISRO Missions and Discoveries

In news: Agasthyarkoodam Observatory


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agasthyarkoodam Observatory

Mains level: NA


Agasthyarkoodam was once home to a forgotten and long-lost 19th-century observatory established by Scottish meteorologist John Allan Broun.

Agasthyarkoodam Observatory

  • The Agasthyarkoodam Observatory is an astronomical research observatory located in the state of Kerala.
  • The observatory is situated at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level and is owned and operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA).
  • The observatory is equipped with a 1-meter optical telescope and various other instruments for studying the night sky.
  • The observatory is used for research and educational purposes and is open to the public for viewing night-sky objects.

Why in news?

  • Agasthyarkoodam in the Western Ghats once housed a magnetic observatory that was established by Scottish meteorologist John Allan Broun.
  • Broun used it to record magnetic and meteorological observations in tandem with the Thiruvananthapuram astronomical observatory.
  • Broun’s astronomical research in India began after he was invited by the ruler of the erstwhile Travancore Uthram Tirunal Marthanda Varma to helm the Thiruvananthapuram observatory following the death of its first director John Caldecott in 1849.
  • The observatory started recording observations in July 1855.
  • However, it was closed in 1881 by the then Madras Governor Sir William Denison.

What are magnetic observatories?

  • Magnetic observatories continuously measure and record Earth’s magnetic field at a number of locations.
  • In an observatory of this sort, magnetized needles with reflecting mirrors are suspended by quartz fibres.
  • Light beams reflected from the mirrors are imaged on a photographic negative mounted on a rotating drum.
  • Variations in the field cause corresponding deflections on the negative.
  • Their magnetograms are photographed on microfilm and submitted to world data centres, where they are available for scientific or practical use.


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