The site selection activities began in 2000 before even the formal approval of the project in 2004. An astronomical site for optical observations is expected to fulfill several criteria including low atmospheric turbulence probed by seeing and desired meteorological parameters such as wind speed and direction, dark and clear sky, temperature and relative humidity, column of perceptible water, etc. The strategy adapted for this purpose was to perform a study based on existing meteorological and geographical data available from national databases to identify potential regions for inspection and short term measurements of the seeing. Short listed sites were then studied for longer periods for a better characterization.
Image quality is directly related to the statistics of the perturbations caused by the atmospheric turbulence on the incoming wave front. For the past 3 decades the DIMM became a most standard seeing monitor and is recently being used to measure the seeing parameter for many major astronomical observatories.
Dinava vs Gargash (2010)
With two sites in hand after the conclusion of the site selection (2000- 2007) INO made DIMM measurements to be able to compare the two sites, Dinava ~3000m and Gargash ~3610m. In 2010 we installed two DIMM systems which allowed the operators to control the instruments remotely. To assure the instruments safety minimize power consumption, this equipment is lunched only during observations time and under appropriate weather conditions reported by our weather station, installed close to the DIMM tower. The mountain was located on metal pillar located on a lifted concrete platform providing an altitude of 3.5m above the ground for the telescopes in both sites.