The national observatory of Iran, which is being built near the city of Kashan, central Isfahan province, will be put into operation by mid-June next year. “All the components of the telescope and the control systems, except the mirror, are produced domestically,” said Sourena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology, IRNA reported on Wednesday.
The main activities of the national observatory include designing, construction, monitoring, and operating the 3.4-meter INO340 telescope, its instruments, and infrastructures. The range of instruments initially planned for the telescope includes a wave-front sensor, auto-guider, imaging CCDs, and a high-resolution spectrograph.
INO is a national project and has been envisioned to become an international scientific platform for astronomy in the future. Therefore, educating the general public and especially the younger generation about the basics of astronomy is another important step ahead of the INO project.
An important focus of these activities is the residents close to the area around the INO site whose lifestyles can directly affect the workflow of the INO observatory. So far, about 1,400 students from 22 schools in towns and villages close to Gargash site have been educated about the basics of astronomy and the effects of light pollution on the INO observatory. Furthermore, the project is using social media to engage the general public with the project.
INO scientists selected Mount Gargash in 2009 after a rigorous eight-year campaign spanning the entire country that measured the atmospheric features that could affect the location of the Iranian National Observatory. Many tasks have been done since then including building a dedicated 11.2 km road connecting the national road network to the summit. The observatory building is currently under construction and is planned to be opened by the next 8 months.