The Astronomy club IIT Madras is the oldest of all clubs present. Students and campus residents alike have been fascinated by the roof of stars that houses us, and this is what lead to the formation of the club.
Recently we decided to move towards the Physics aspect of our world – everything from the world of subatomic particles to galaxies. And now, the club stands tall as the Physics and Astronomy club rechristened as “Horizon”.
We are generally a bunch of undergrads, along with some enthusiastic campus residents, working to achieve many things:
- Conducting observation sessions fortnightly, and in celestial occasions.
- Doing and managing projects, which have an application towards astronomy, astrophysics, and pure physics, including many research projects too.
- Organizing trips to Research facilities, labs and dark sky areas.
- Organizing workshops, generally for students, but open to all.
We have an entire page dedicated to the projects being undertaken/previously done by our club members, and they can be found here.
Over time, we have conducted many observation sessions, some very generic, and some special – on occasions of rare celestial phenomena. Fast forwarding, and just focusing on the last year, we have had some very successful sessions, including spotting Comet Lovejoy, catching a brief glimpse of the lunar eclipse in September 2015, 3 days (or nights :P) of the Great Planetary alignment, Mars opposition, and the session on the Mercury transit. The events generally have a turnout of 60-70 people, and in the case of special sessions, like the one for Comet observation, we have more than 200 continuously moving crowd.
We have had a quite a few trips till now. The last documented trip was to Rameshwaram for the observation of solar eclipse, in 2009. Recently, we organized a trip for Institute people (students and Alumni) to Yelagiri, to perform one-night observation of the heavens above, and also try out astrophotography. With support from CFI, and Dr. Suresh Mohan, whom we look up to as our mentor, we pulled off a trip for around 40 people, and were able to capture some deep sky objects on the screen! The students were enthralled to see the Milky way in the sky, not to mention the wandering meteors which fascinated many.
While we have been trying to reach out to labs, we will very soon have trips to premium Research facilities in India to enthuse students and campus students in physics!
Workshops & Lectures
We have conducted various workshops and lectures for the benefit of not only the students of the institute but also for the campus residents and people all over India, mainly as a part of Shaastra, the technical festival of IIT Madras.
We have had workshops on various subjects, most notably the Astronomical Data analysis workshop, wherein we taught more than 150 students data analysis of Sloan Digital Sky Survey data, which is one of the most extensive databases in the world.
In lectures, our biggest achievement, if known, would be having Prof. Arnab Rai Choudhry, who is among the biggest people in Solar physics, give a lecture to more than 200 people during Shaastra- 2015.