The current research and training capabilities in observational astronomy in Iran is unable to meet the growing demand due to a rapid growth in higher education over the past two decades. While almost every big university in Iran has an astronomy department or group, the existing observational facilities consists of a number of small telescopes in various university campus observatories generally used for undergraduate and graduate training.

A medium size optical telescope is thought to be a step to facilitate research in astronomy and observational cosmology. The geographic location of Iran, 32N 53E, relative dry climate and high altitude mountains, offer suitable locations for optical telescopes to carry out surveys and time critical observations. Site selection study for a proposed medium class telescope started few years before the INO project received administrative approval.

At the present the flagship of the INO observing facilities is a 3.4m optical telescope under construction.

History of Iranian National Observatory Project 



2001         Site selection studies begin

2003         4 sites selected for long-term monitoring



2004         Cabinet approves the project

    Parliament allocates budget code



2006         IPM hosts INO project

2007         Site selection concludes with Gargash and Dinava



2008         Site monitoring begins in Gargash and Dinava

2009         Vice-presidency for Science and Technology provides financial support

    Primary mirror ordered

2012          Conceptual design approved



2012         Road Construction begins

2013         Detail design begins

2014         Primary mirror is delivered to INO



2016         Secondary mirror ordered

   Road construction complete

2017         Science operation begins

   Enclosure and site construction begins