Astronomy in Iran: Past and Future
Reza Mansouri

Not much is known about astronomy in Iran prior to Islam. However with the onset of Islam, astronomy started to flourish with increased activities in theoretical and observational astronomy and the establishment of numerous research institutions and observatories such as the famous Maragheh and Samarghand observatories. Activities to focus on and to revive Iran's role in astronomy picked up again at the beginning of this century when Iran started developing plans to build a modern, state of-the-art observatory (Iranian National Observatory). After an initial planning phase, this national project was approved by the Iranian cabinet in 2003 as the first big science project of Iran. While the project did not start to take off until 2009, it has been steadily progressing ever since. The Iranian National Observatory's ultimate goal is to revive Iran's contributions to astronomy, to foster international collaborations, and to transport Iran into the modern era of astronomical research.