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Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Exterior of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Exterior of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Photo credit: By Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is one of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institutions in the world, where scientists carry out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education. The center's mission is to advance knowledge and understanding of the universe through research and education in astronomy and astrophysics. The center was founded in 1973 as a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. It consists of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

HCO played an important role in the history of astronomy. It was established in 1839, and in 1847 installed what was then the largest telescope in North America. Between 1847 and 1852, astronomer William Cranch Bond and pioneering photographer John Adams Whipple used the telescope to produce images of the moon. On the night of July 16–17, 1850, Whipple and Bond made the first daguerreotype of a star (Vega). HCO is also noted for the "Harvard Computers," a group of women hired in the 1880s and 1890s to process astronomical data. Some went on to make important discoveries in the field.

This description includes material adapted from the Wikipedia article "Harvard%E2%80%93Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. It has been edited for brevity and to conform with the style of this website. The edited description is distributed under the terms of the same Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 license.