The Astronomical Observatory of Trieste (OATs) is one of the 17 Italian institutes that form the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). Besides being involved in frontier research in Astrophysics, OATs also carries out intense outreach and educational activities.

Active areas of current research include many of the main international astrophysics research fields: galaxies and cosmology, stars, stellar populations and Intergalactic Medium, the Sun and the solar system, astrobiology and exoplanets, relativistic and particle physics, new technologies and instrumentation.  The number of research staff involved in the single research fields varies and there is considerable involvement in cross-disciplinary research.

The development of research programmes largely depend on funding sources external to the Institute, and therefore most active research areas may alternate  in time as a result of successful applications to EU and international research calls.

OATs shares projects, facilities, activities, and students’ tutoring with the Department of Physics of the University of Trieste. In addition, OATs has established tight collaborations with Research Institutes located in the Trieste area such as SISSA, ICTP and INFN.

The core of  outreach and educational activities is the educational observatory of the dome dedicated to Margherita Hack which is  located at Basovizza Observing Station. Several telescopes are hosted at the station, among them is the 60cm Marcon telescope designed with the purpose of didactic observations for the general public. An interactive multimedia laboratory is also located in Basovizza. In addition to activities at the Observing Station, several didactic activities are carried out at schools, and  public conferences are organized.

22 technical administrative staff, 56 Researchers
Other facts and figures: 

In the timespan 2015-2018,  5 FP7 projects were still in progress:

  • 1 Marie Curie IIF fellowship GalCLU_ASTRO_COSMO (249,242,80.00 euro, 2015 to Jan 2017);
  • 1 ERC St Grant, CosmoIGM (891,400.00 euro, ended in 2016);
  • 1 participation in the Cooperation-SPACE program, name of project: Genius, lNAF coordinator: Astro. Obs. of Torino (OATs budget: 100,424.00 euro, from 2013 to 2016);
  • 1 participation in the Cooperation-SPACE program, name of project: VIALACTEA, INAF coordinator: IAPS of Rome (OATs budget: 105,000.00 euro, from 2013 to 2016);
  • 1 participation in Capacities-Infrastructures program, name of project Solarnet, INAF coordinator: Astro. Obs. of Catania (OATs budget: 15,000.00 euro, from 2013 to 2017).

As for H2020 projects, in the time-span 2015-2018, OATs hosted the following projects:

  • EGI-ENGAGE (OATs was third party of INFN) (81,487.00 euro) – from 2015 to 2017
  • INDIGO DATA CLOUD (187,500.00 euro) – from 2015 to 2017
  • ASTERICS (1,459,290.00 euro) – from 2015 to 2019
  • EXANEST (600,000.00 euro) – from 2015 to 2019
  • EOSCPilot ( 110,625.00 euro) – from 2017 to 2018
  • LACEGAL ( 112,500.00  euro) – from 2017 to 2021
  • EUROEXA (363,250.00 euro) – from 2017to 2021
  • BEYOND PLANCK (234,610.00 euro) – from 2017 to 2020
  • 2 PEOPLE fellowships, started in September 2016 (135,000.00 euro + travel allowances each). One ended in 2018.
  • ERC ST CLUSTERSXCOSMO (1,230,403.00 euro) from 2017 to 2022
  • HERMES, coord. INAF-OATs  (tot. GA 3.434.050,00 euro, INAF 565,375 euro) from 2018 to 2021
  • PARTICIPATION IN AENEAS (93,517.00 euro) coordinated by INAF-OABologna – 2017-2020

Also, OATs received a MERAC funding of 146,475.00 euro and, among other projects, whose funding is Italian but they envisage international participations, OATs received in the 2015-2018 period the following (in euro):

  • ASI  Euclid 703,930.00
  • ASI PLANCK 218,230.00
  • PREMIALE ESPRESSO 550,000.00
  • PREMIALE WOW 208,000.00
  • PREMIALE ELT T-REX 53,000.00
  • SKA MIUR 571,000.00
  • DHTCS MIUR 577,873.00
  • PRIN MIUR 118,665.00
  • PRIN INAF 124,000.00
  • ASI COSMOS 143.940
  • MIUR CHIPP 44.000
  • MIUR FORECAST 47.000
  • ESO GALACSI 28.800
  • ESO HIRES 11.500
  • NATO 4.000
  • FVG Divulgazione 15.000
  • MIUR Premiale Frontiera Euro 153.380
  • MIUR Bando Fare Euro 169.796
  • ASI HERMES Euro 987.784
  • ESO FORS UP Euro 40.000
  • ESAC Rosetta Euro 30.000

N° EU Projects (2015-2018): 

  • FP7: 5
  • Horizon 2020: 10 (+ 1 participation AENEAS) + 2 PEOPLE FELLOWSHIPS
  • Other international projects: 1 MERAC, ESO ecc
  • 10 EU scientific projects were hosted at OATs as at 31 December 2018 (including Aeneas and 1 ASTROFIT fellowship).

Research Outputs (2018): 

N° of scientific production (refereed publications): 172 (SAO/NASA ADS).

N° of scientific meetings & public events (2018): 40 (average attendance 40 researchers; 52 scientific visitors (28 of Italian nationality; 24 foreigners - including seminar speakers and visiting guests)


The OATs main building (Castello Basevi) hosts the Director’s office, the Administrative Central offices, the Computing and IT Service, the library and offices of research staff,  meeting rooms and a video-conference room for a total surface of sqm 1,394.57. A separate building (Villa Bazzoni), located at a distance of about 100 meters, is shared with researchers of the Astronomy Section of the Department of Physics of the University of Trieste and covers a total of  sqm 933,75. Moreover, it includes the Basovizza Observing Station which totals up a surface of sqm 4,315.35.

N° of Laboratories: 1 electronics laboratory located at Basovizza Observing Station.

Research Infrastructures:  Esploracosmo; Specola Margherita Hack, all facilities dedicated to outreach purposes.

Libraries and n° of available publications/journals:  1 library, located in Castello Basevi (OATs main building) counts about 14,000 printed volumes including approximately 7,200 monographs and more than 280 journals, and a vast collection of publications and contributions from other national and international scientific institutes operating in the field of astronomy. A substantial collection of electronic resources (e.g. IEEE Xplore Digital Library, SPIE-DL, Optics Infobase, Springer Physics and Astronomy Collection, ASP Conference Series, IAU Proceedings, ect.) has been added to all this print heritage. OATs library is one of the libraries of the National Institute of Astrophysics  whose resources and activities can be consulted through the INAF Cultural Heritage Portal .  The library also participates in the ACNP and NILDE  library services.

Other structures: Computing center hosting LINUX cluster with about thousand cores + LINUX cluster for Planck data processing center + number of disc servers + servers of the IA2 Italian Astronomical Archives Service.

Fellowships, PhD Courses, Master, Summer School, etc.: 

Research, training courses as well traineeships are carried out in the main areas of astrophysics through fellowships and research grants.

OATs is active in research in all the thematic macroareas (MAs) in which INAF research and development activity is organized:

  • MA-1 Galaxies and cosmology;
  • MA-2 Stars, stellar populations and interstellar medium;
  • MA-3 Sun and solar system;
  • MA-4 Relativistic astrophysics and particles;
  • MA-5 New technologies and instrumentation.
Information for international students: 

OATs central office helps international students with pre-arrival and arrival procedures.

OATs is also partner of the Welcome Office Friuli Venezia Giulia office that offers support to researchers arriving in Trieste.

International Partnerships: 

OATs is involved in many large International Collaborations.

Building on the expertise developed with the key-role participation in the ESA Planck mission, our Institute has now a strong involvement in the future ESA Euclid mission, holding the coordination of the Science Ground Segment, an intense participation to the activities of several Science Working Groups, also hosting the Italian Euclid Science Data Centre.

OATs researchers have been involved in the design, development and installation of the ESPRESSO spectrograph, currently in operations at ESO Paranal Observatory located in Chile.  ESPRESSO is the leading instrument in the world for exoplanets search and characterization and OATs researchers can now benefit of state-of-the-art observations in this field. OATs researcher have been moreover involved both in the upgrade of the FORS2 instrument for the ESO VLT - Very Large Telescope and in the design activities of the HIRES spectrograph for the forthcoming 39-meter ESO giant  telescope, named ELT - Extremely Large Telescope, in particular for the definition of the science cases, development of control electronics, control software and data analysis software.

Furthermore, OATs researchers have a growing interest in the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, with participation to the activities of pre-construction phase and definition of the key science goals. 

Contacts and Social Media/Network: 

Director: prof. Giovanni Vladilo


Central Office: Via G.B. Tiepolo 11, 34143 Trieste (Italy) - Tel. +39 040 3199 111

Basovizza Observing Station: Basovizza 302, 34149 Trieste (Italy) - Tel. 040 3199 111

Social media / social networkdott. Massimo Ramella