The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is a far-flung enterprise. Having grown beyond the capacity of its original location on the National Mall, in 1955 the Observatory moved its headquarters to Cambridge, Mass., to create the Center for Astrophysics, a joint program with Harvard University.
It has been my pleasure to visit SAO in Cambridge a number of times and each time to be impressed by the Observatory’s leadership in astrophysical and astronomical research and its commitment to share that work through educational outreach.
Today, SAO operates, solely or in partnership, facilities in Arizona, Hawaii, Chile, the South Pole and outer space. I have visited the sites in Chile and the South Pole—locations with special conditions that allow astronomical observations that cannot be obtained elsewhere. On this trip I look forward to seeing the SAO’s famed Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on top of Mt. Hopkins, south of Tucson, Arizona. One of my goals in the future is to also visit the SAO facilities in Hawaii, but I suspect that any visit to the telescopes in outer space will have to wait for a cheaper form of space travel than we have now.