The State Observatory of Nainital was established in 1955 and shifted to Manora Peak in 1961 elevated at 1961 mts. It is about 1 Km from Hanuman Garhi and 9 km from the main town of Nainital. You can either drive here by road or hike to Hanuman Garhi and then here.
This 50 year old Observatory was re-established on 22nd March 2004 as ARIES, a short name for Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences and is an autonomous Institute governed by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India. It was originally built in Varanasi on 20th April 1954 but after a year shifted from the dust and hazy skies to a much clearer and star laden skies of Nainital.
ARIES is situated amidst the picturesque mountains with the Himalayas as the backdrop and the campus is filled with rich flora along with an occasional view of Fauna including rare species of birds. The main objective of this centre is to study and research in the area of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences which include solar, stellar and theoretical branches, study of galaxies, Supernova explosions and many more in the field of Astrophysics.
Any observation which is not possible in Canary Islands and Australia due to daylight is done here in ARIES. This is to ensure that the skies are monitored 24x7 and to ensure that no phenomenon is missed. Some critical observations were also made here for the first time in the country and it has contributed immensely to astronomical research.
The facility is well equipped with five optical telescopes made with the latest instruments like spectrophotometer, cooled CCD Camera, filters and others, Multi-wavelength radiometer, GRIM spectrometer and a modern computer centre, Highly maintained library hosting more than 10,000 labels of research journals and a collection of books on astronomy and a VSAT facility that links ARIES with the entire world through high-speed Internet are available just to name a few.
ARIES is constantly upgrading the existing facilities with better and latest high-tech equipments in order to facilitate better study and research. Students with outstanding academic record and a strong inclination towards software development and instrumentation are allowed to study here for a few months under supervision of the staff members. Some with exceptional engineering record are also taken as researchers here.
ARIES is opened to public depending on the season and clear sky in the evenings for night sky view through one of the telescopes, Science Picture gallery and Slideshows are available for viewing but the timings may vary depending on the season and climate. Prior permission is required to enter here and one can obtain all this information and visiting hours from the Institute itself.