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For The Public

The Center for Astrophysics hosts Public Observatory Nights, presents public lectures, and collaborates with museums in order to share the work of our scientists with the broader public.

Sharing the work of our scientists and engineers is a core tenet at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. Through a series of public events and a history of collaborating with museums and planetariums, we aim to make our research publicly accessible, and to bring a deeper understanding and appreciation of astrophysics directly to you.

Public Events

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian offers events for the public, including our Public Observatory Nights and public seminars. 

Explore Public Events

Resources for the Public & Amateur Astronomers

The Center for Astrophysics has resources, programs, and tools -- spanning from telescopes you can control from your laptop to citizen science projects -- to support learning about the universe. These resources are all open access and free for public use.

  • ADS
    The Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is a NASA-funded project which maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 5.3 million records: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and arXiv e-prints. The main body of data in the ADS consists of bibliographic records, which are searchable through our Abstract Service query forms, and full-text scans of much of the astronomical literature which can be browsed though our Browse interface. Integrated in its databases, the ADS provides access and pointers to a wealth of external resources, including electronic articles, data catalogs and archives. We currently have links to over 5.5 million records maintained by our collaborators.
  • Chandra X-ray Center: Public Information & Education
    In addition to the science results and images from the Chandra Observatory (NASA's flagship for X-ray astronomy) released by the Chandra X-ray Center (operated for NASA by SAO), other resources offered by the Chandra website include the "Chandra Chronicles," a variety of web-based and printed educational and outreach materials, and the opportunity to "Ask an Astrophysicist."
  • DASCH (Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard)
    The Harvard Astronomical Glass Plate Collection is an archive of roughly 500,000 images of the sky preserved on glass photographic plates, the way professional astronomers often captured images in the era before the dominance of digital technology. These plates are more than historical curiosities: they provide over a century’s worth of data that can be used by contemporary astronomers to trace how objects in the night sky change over periods from years to decades. Researchers with the DASCH project are scanning the plates for digital storage, analysis, and research. 
  • MicroObservatory Online Telescopes
    Designed to provide students and teachers nationwide the tools to investigate the deep sky from the classroom, this NSF-sponsored project, with in-kind contributions from Eastman Kodak Company and Apple Computer, endeavors to create a "virtual community."
  • Minor Planet Center
    The Minor Planet Center (MPC)-also located in Cambridge, Massachusetts-falls under the auspices of Division III of the International Astronomical Union. The MPC is responsible for the designation of minor planets, comets, and natural satellites in the solar system as well as for the efficient collection, computation, checking, and dissemination of astrometric observations and orbits for minor planets and comets.
  • Project PHaEDRA
    Project PHaEDRA is an initiative by the Wolbach Library, in collaboration with many partners, to catalog, digitize, transcribe, and enrich the metadata of over 2500 logbooks and notebooks produced by the Harvard Computers and early Harvard astronomers. Their goal is to ensure that this remarkable set of items, created by a remarkable group of people, is as accessible and useful as possible, and you can help!
  • WorldWide Telescope (WWT)
    The WWT is a free, open-source tool for exploring our knowledge of the universe. It provides planetarium-like views of the sky, as well as dynamic images of planets and other astronomical objects. The project enables users to incorporate images and video into scripts for custom “tours”, for use in classrooms, planetariums, museums, and other multimedia displays.
  • Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston
    Among the oldest astronomy clubs in the country, the nearly year-round meetings of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) are held on CfA grounds and are open to all with an interest in astronomy as a hobby. Established at Harvard College Observatory in 1934, the group is devoted to telescope making, observing, and studying the heavens and to promoting participation in amateur observational astronomy.
  • Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
    The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams CBAT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the official worldwide clearinghouse for new discoveries of comets, solar-system satellites, novae, supernovae, and other transient astronomical events. Under the auspices of Commission 6 of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), CBAT disseminates this information in both print or electronic form via subscription.
  • International Dark-Sky Association
    Since its formation in 1988, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has worked to stop the adverse effects of light pollution on dark skies. A variety of impact issues resulting from the harmful effects of light pollution-on wildlife and ecology, energy conservation, and health, to name a few-are addressed on local, national, and international levels in an effort to raise awareness and educate others about the benefits of quality nighttime lighting.