How I killed Pluto

Vainu Bappu Observatory

The Vainu Bappu Observatory (VBO) is located in the picturesque neighborhood of the village of Kavalur in the Javadu Hills, in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Telescopes at VBO

Telescope NameLens diameterInstall date
Vainu Bappu Telescope2.34 m
J.C. Bhattacharya Telescope1.3 m2014
Carl Zeiss Telescope1.02 m1972
Guest Telescope8 in

Personal Motivation to visit

How I killed Pluto
How I killed Pluto

Long ago, I had read a book How I killed Pluto And Why It Had It Coming. This book explains how the author uses a telescope to discover exoplanets and how he used programming to achieve it. This book inspired me to learn skills in other field other than computer science. Taking up skills from multiple areas can help in brining unique ideas.

Later, I have read couple of physics books from Stephen Hawking and Richard Fenyman and as a curious person I am, I wanted to learn more. I discovered this telescope put up close to Bangalore. Did some research and found that the 8 inch telescope is available for public viewing on Saturday evenings from 7PM.

So I visited the observatory this Saturday evening. The drive from Bangalore was calm and we had good roads almost till the observatory. The night sky is very amazing here because of the very less light pollution here.

The first time I enjoyed the night sky is when I was so young and we had gone to the nearby village for a family function. Once the function was done, we were supposed to walk to our village with our whole extended family. The elders waited for the night to grow on us so that we get more moon light to make our path so visible. We walked back to our village in night with no mobiles and very few torches. That was the first time I realized how bright the moonlight is. The next time also it was almost a similar incident. Coming back from a wedding night in a load auto. I had this feeling how beautiful the sky is. This time I did have a mobile phone with a camera. I tried clicking a photo of the night sky and realized not all things beautiful can be captured on a camera.

The next time was when I was in Rameshwaram. We had stayed in a small property which was shared by us and a couple from US. They had showed us the Sky Map mobile app and helped us identify objects on the sky. We clicked couple of awesome pics of the night sky with help from them.

After this it was a long time since I had enjoyed night sky. The next time was while camping in Gandikota and the next was this night at the observatory. Even though the place was bit crowded and the telescope was very small, we had some good time there.

Enroute to Vainu Bappu Observatory
Enroute to Vainu Bappu Observatory

How to Reach

The Vainu Bappu Observatory is located about 175 km Bangalore and about 200 km from Chennai. One would reach Vainu Bappu Observatory from Bangalore or Chennai by driving towards the other city in Bangalore-Chennai highway and deviating from Vaniyambadi towards Kavalur.

Best time to visit

Peninsular India is usually hit by two monsoons in a year – the southwest monsoon starting around the beginning of June, and the northeast monsoon which settles in around the end of October. The observing season requires a clear sky. The peak observing season is January – April or May.


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