Iran celebrating Astronomy Week 

April 24, 2023 - 16:26

TEHRAN - The celebration of Astronomy Week started in Iran on Monday with the aim of honoring luminaries and providing the ground for talented youth to progress in this field of science.

The International Astronomy Week is held every year on the Saturday closest to the first quarter of the month, which is between mid-April and mid-May (late April to late May), and accordingly, the occasion is marked in Iran this year from April 24 until April 30.

Astronomy is a natural science that has been ever-present in human history. Our ancestors looked at the night sky, filled with curiosity about what was beyond our planet with the same fervor as we do. Indigenous cultures from around the world practiced astrology with the naked eye and it played a key role in their societies.

In a major milestone for Iran’s scientific community, astronomers in Tehran announced in October 2022 that the Iranian National Observatory (INO) has seen “first light”.

The world-class, 3.4-meter optical telescope is operational and has acquired its debut images.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long,” said INO Project Director Habib Khosroshahi, an astronomer at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM) in Tehran, told Science.

INO project was initiated about 20 years ago, aiming at the development of a medium-class telescope to provide a research facility for national users. Thanks to its geographic location, it is expected to attract international users and visiting instruments. The site selection campaign was concluded by selecting Mt. Gargash at 3600m above sea level in central Iran, 100 km north of the city of Isfahan.   

“With this amazing image quality, right at the start of the commissioning, we demonstrated that the optics, mechanics, and the control hardware and the software, an integral of tens of thousands of parts, work in tandem and will allow our astronomers to explore the universe within reach of this modern facility”, Khosroshahi added, according to INO website.

He added that this is a special moment because most of the sub-systems have been developed in-house, either at INO or by the local industry supervised by INO.

“INO is at its best right at the start of a new journey towards scientific operation”, he asserted.

Gerry Gilmore, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and chair of INO’s international advisory board, said “When they started this project, it was just a dream. No one in Iran had attempted anything on this scale before.”

Iran ranked first in the world in the 15th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA 2022) held at Kutaisi in Georgia from August 14 to 22, 2022.

The Iranian team won first place in the tournament for the second time by winning 9 gold medals and 1 silver medal. 250 students from 45 countries participated in this competition.


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