Faculty involved: Prof. Vijayakumar H. Doddamani
Astronomy is the oldest branch of sciences and dates back to prehistoric times of Greek, Babylonians, Chinese and Indian civilizations. It took birth the emergence of curious intelligent human beings on earth. Astronomy was a fascinating discipline of studies in natural sciences since the Vedic period. The diurnal phenomenon such as day and night inspired the early human beings to study the working of nature such as its origin and evolution. Until the invention of optical telescope by Galileo Galilei in 1609, the traditional observational astronomy was merely confined to optical region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The night sky observations were regular features and consequently the constellations were visualized. Thus, the whole of the celestial sphere was divided into 88 constellations to help repeated observations by naked eye. Many different mythological storied were associated with each constellations depending upon the social, cultural and religions background of the observers. The invention of optical telescope around 1610 by Galileo Galilei led to many fold development of the observational astronomy embracing people from diverse disciplines. The results of the observational astronomy were used in the marking of civilian calendars. The telescopic observations of sunspots and moons of the Jupiter revolutionized the models of solar system in particular and universe as a whole in general. Sun was considered as the divine celestial object and the observations of dark sun spots on the surface of Sun were refused by religions authorities. Johannes Kepler modified the Galilean telescope in the year 1911 by using convex lens. Around 1900 optical telescopes of about one meter aperture were constructed at several observatories. The discovery of celestial radio signals by Karl Guthe Jansky lead to the birth of another branch of observational astronomy. The rocket borne experiments detected serendipitously x-ray photons from celestial sources and gave birth to space astronomy telescope. At present, in India has developed world classes’ telescopes such as Vainu Bappu Telescopes at Kavalur, 2-meter class optical telescopes at Hanley and a Giant Meter Wave Radio Telescope. NCRA Pune has designed, constructed and commissioned the World’s largest radio telescope, GMRT near Pune, Maharashtra in the year 1995. The development of observational facilities in India has inspired Bangalore University to start a new specialization of astronomy and astrophysics in the Department of Physics under UGC grants in 1990. Over the past two and half decades, the Department of Physics has successfully offered special courses in astronomy and astrophysics. Many students have obtained Ph.D. Degrees under active collaboration from several research institutes such as IUCAA, IIA, Bangalore and Pune universities. Now with the advent of x-rays detectors and other high energy photons, the observational astronomy has extended its scope of observing celestial sources across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The Department has acquired small portable optical telescopes to train M.Sc. students and M.Sc. senior students are regularly taken to Radio telescopes at Gauribidanoor, Ooty and optical telescopes at Kavalur and Pune for getting hands on experience with the working of telescopes. Photometric observations of bright stars are carried out using 15-inch telescope to estimate the atmospheric extinction coefficient in optical band during their visits to VB observatory, Kavalur.