INAOE | History


Located in Tonantzintla, Puebla, the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) was founded by presidential decree on November 11, 1971. It is a decentralized organization that focuses on public interest, it also has judicial independence and assets of its own.

As an institution, the INAOE has the following goals:

  • To train researchers, specialized professors, experts and technicians in astrophysics, optics, and electronics.

  • To solve scientific and technological problems within those fields.

  • To drive educative and research activities that aim for the solution of specific problems in México.

  • To give courses and award degrees (masters and doctorates) in the fields mentioned.

The INAOE is part of a long-standing scientific tradition which dates back to 1942, when Luis Enrique Erro founded the Observatorio Astrofísico Nacional de Tonantzintla. This town, Tonantzintla, is an ideal location for an observatory because of clear skies during the night and a strategic geographical position. It also has very little light pollution, a quality that Mexico’s capital doesn’t possess.

The observatory paved the way to modern astrophysics in México and Latin America (at the inauguration of the observatory there was a Schmidt Camera). Important astronomers have worked at the Observatorio Astrofísico Nacional de Tonantzintla, among them: founder Luis Enrique Erro, Guillermo Haro, Luis Rivera Terrazas, and astronomer Enrique Chavira. The observatory has helped the country to bridge international scientific borders.

The INAOE has a collection of over 15,000 photographic plates obtained from the Schmidt Camera from different sky regions, mainly from within the following constellations: Orion, Taurus, Cancer, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor, among others.

Many discoveries were made with this camera. The most important is the discovery of Herbig-Haro objects, which are considered star formation indicators. Novae and supernovae were also discovered along with blue galaxies and countless flare stars, as well as the Haro-Chavira comet, discovered in 1954 in the Taurus region.

Dr. Guillermo Haro replaced Erro as director. Under Haro´s direction, the observatory became one of the most important astronomy sites in Latin America due to the quality of its scientific work.

In 1971, Haro decided to create the INAOE, as he realized how important optics and electronics were for México. The Optics Department was founded in, and two years later, the Electronics Department started its activities. Since its creation, one of the INAOE’s goals is to shape young researchers capable of identifying and solving scientific and technological problems in the fields of astrophysics, optics and electronics. Master in Optics studies started in 1972 and, in 1974, Electronics studies were created.

The Optics Doctorate program started in 1984 and the Electronics Doctorate program started in 1993, along with the Astrophysics Master and Doctorate studies programs. The Computer Science Master and Doctorate programs were created in 1998.

Full dedication is expected of our students so they can develop their abilities and create an excellent work environment. The INAOE provides them with work areas, labs, computers, and supports them in all efforts to merit scholarships as visiting students at other national and international institutes.

Last Update :
29-04-2016 a las 16:17 by Silvia Hernández Moreno

Address: Luis Enrique Erro # 1, Tonantzintla, Puebla, Mexico | Tel: (222) 266.31.00 | Contact: | Fax: 247.25.80


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