Gurudev Observatory

Spectroscope Making Workshops

What is a spectroscope

A spectroscope is a scientific instrument that splits light into its different wavelengths, so Humans see visible light as different colors. Violet has the shortest wavelengh that people can see, while red has the longest. This instrument can also identify wavelengths that humans cannot see, such as infrared and ultraviolet radiation. Light usually contains a mixture of different wavelengths; by studying these, scientists can find out useful information, such as the chemical elements present at the source of the light, what temperatures produced the light, how fast the light is moving towards or away from us, and what magnetic fields might be associated with the light. Spectroscopes are widely used in astronomy, chemistry, and other areas.

Spectroscopy in astronomy

Astronomers use spectroscopes to find out what elements are present in stars, in the atmospheres of planets, and in interstellar space. Stars have been found to differ in composition and can be classified according to their spectra. Spectroscopes have allowed researchers to find out what elements are present in the atmospheres of the other planets in the solar system. Astronomers may be able to analyse the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars; if oxygen, water or methane was discovered, this would be a strong indication of life.

Astronomers can tell what temperature the star is by analyzing is spectrum. That is, certain colors are only produced by certain temperatures. Astronomers can tell whether and how fast a star is moving towards or away from us by looking at how the light changes its frequency or wavelength -- just as you can tell a police or ambulance siren is coming towards you or away from you by how the pitch changes. Astronomers also use spectrographs to look very closely at the colors in the light and can tell whether the light is coming from an area of magnetism or not, and how strong that area might be.

The powerpoint presentation "Fingerprints in Sunlight - Understanding Spectroscopy" gives an overview of spectroscopy (click on the image to view):


First time in India

Indian students were eager to have spectroscopes but there was no local source. The Director of Stanford Solar Centre, Dr. Deborah Scherrer helped to solve the issue and motivate students. They have donated 250 Spectroscope making kits to Gurudev observatory with grating , a must essential part of spectroscope. This was the first ever arrival of the NASA Spectroscope in India.


With the help of these kits and other related material we have oganised several spectroscope making workshops througout India. We organised workshops for girls, slum areas, students from Municipal schools and others at Vadodara (Western India), Haridwar and Mathura (Northern India ) and Chhatisgadh (Central India) where students have made the spectroscope by themselves under our guidance, could see the spectrum of various natural and manmade objects and finally they were given the spectroscope they made themselves. Although the quantities donated to us were very small they were most useful to our students.


The workshops and spectroscopes helped us to teach spectroscopy, spectrum and wavelengths to students very easily.

Gallery of pictures


Making spectrocopes at a workshop: