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The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian manages or helps to manage a number of major observatories around the world. As part of this process, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Telescope Data Center (TDC) coordinates the use of visible-light telescopes by astronomers, keeps archives of the data from these observations, and provides computer tools for processing the data.

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The Big Task of Running Big Telescopes

The CfA’s large visible-light observatories include the MMT Observatory and other telescopes at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO) in Arizona as well as the Magellan Telescopes in Chile. TDC staff handle observation proposals from astronomers, assist researchers with planning their observations, and archives data from the telescopes.

The TDC also provides essential services for processing data, taking raw observations from the telescope and turning them into a polished product ready for analysis by the astronomers who performed the observation.


A glimpse into the dome of the MMT Observatory at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona.

Credit: CfA/Rick Peterson