Gujarat is all set to get its first-ever solar as well stellar observatories, with government-recognised Indian Planetary Society (IPS) selecting Kutch district for embarking on this project at a cumulative cost of Rs 12 crore.
The Solar Observatory would be utilised to study the Sun as well as the Solar System, while the Stellar Observatory will collect crucial information by studying various galaxies, planets and stars, said IPS CEO Akshay Malhotra, who is at present in Kutch for a detailed study of possible locations in that area.
“This is for the first time when IPS is embarking on a project to set up its first solar as well as stellar observatories. We have decided to set up these observatories in Kutch, as the sky is very clear here, which is very essential for accurate results,” he said.
“There are such observatories in different parts of India being run by the government, while we are an independent NGO recognised by the government. This is for the first time when Gujarat will get such observatories, as there are none at present here,” said Malhotra.
Apart from having a clear sky, which is necessary for night observation of galaxies, the Tropic of Cancer passes from here, which gives ample sunlight necessary for solar observation, he said. “The Tropic of Cancer passes from near Bhuj, which makes this place ideal for solar observation.
As of now, we have zeroed-in on two locations, one is Lakhpat and another is Loriya village near Khavda, which is around 80 kms from Bhuj” he said. According to him, high-efficiency telescopes, along with other high-end equipments, would be installed at these observatories under PPP (public-private-partnership project) model. “Budget for the Solar Observatory is around Rs 2 crore, while we may require at least Rs 10 crore for the Stellar Observatory.
We will go for PPP model to execute this project, which will take a couple of years to complete. We will raise funds through donations as well as through government fundings,” Malhotra said.
Scientists from India as well as across the world are associated with IPS, having its head office at Mumbai. Scientist Dr J J Rawal is the founder president of this institution, he said. Rawal has recently published a research paper where he has suggested that there is a great possibility that the Sun is having its radial rings, made of granite rocks, like the Saturn, Malhotra said.
However, more research is needed in that direction and the Solar Observatory would play a crucial role in it, he said. “Very less information is available with us about various aspects of the Sun, such as solar flares.
The upcoming observatory will serve that purpose and throw some more light on solar activities,” he said. According to him, the ground work to establish these observatories at Kutch has been started and search for suitable land is underway.